SUNDERLAND head coach Tony Mowbray has always been a homebird and had a burning desire to return to the North-East in the summer. However, he has described the ‘disappointing’ sequence of events that led to his departure from Blackburn Rovers.

Mowbray’s contract was allowed to run to it’s conclusion at Ewood Park with the Rovers hierarchy deciding against offering him a new deal after over five years at the club. He was replaced in the summer by former Danish striker Jon Dahl Tomasson.

The 58-year-old did not have to spend too long out of football. Following Alex Neil’s exit to Stoke City, Mowbray was handed the reigns at the Stadium of Light. While he was keen to have some downtime away from the game after leaving Lancashire, he maintained he was never planning on spending too long out of the game. “I was never done with football. It’s just that I got disappointed at that football club” he said.

“It is an amazing football club. I went to Blackburn Rovers, Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton, Stuart Ripley who I played with at Boro, Tim Sherwood, what a team. What a club. And yet it isn’t that club. It’s a third full with 12,000 there.

“I tried to play with emotion in a really young team. The stats show that they were the second youngest team in the league. I love them players. John Buckley, Scott Wharton. When I got there, those kids were in the Under-18’s never mind the Under-23’s and there they are now competing in the Championship every week.

“Adam Armstrong went for £15 million going to £20 million and nothing was put back into that team. Ben Brereton Diaz was about to be sold. I only wish them well.”

For the first half of last season, Blackburn were promotion contenders with striker Ben Brereton Diaz spearheading their charge with 20 goals by December. Mowbray has had to develop the Chilean international due to the fact that the club would reinvest sales back into the playing squad, something he found to be a significant burden.

Mowbray continued: “It’s hard work stood there in that box on your own trying to drive a team and if you’re getting beat and listening to the thoughts of the supporters. It’s difficult and you need help sometimes. I felt Blackburn had gone through the process that this club (Sunderland) might go through.

“Because if you develop and become a good footballer and then you are earning what you are earning but then you played really well and people are writing and talking about you, the numbers start to run away a little bit. You have to make a decision whether you are going to sell and reinvest or are you just going to grow the club so the salary levels go from here to here. It’s a conundrum for a club.

“I just got to the point at the end where it didn’t seem to be working. We tried to grow that club and make it bigger and more successful. I felt as if they could have had a really good season. No problem selling footballers but you have to reinvest some of the money back into the group. You can’t just keep selling them and think you are going to get better by bringing the Under-18 and sticking him in.”

Blackburn finished the season in eighth place in the Championship table having fallen away from the top six in the second half of last season. Mowbray was relieved of his duties and after a couple of months out of the dugout, he was appointed at the Stadium of Light earlier this month into a side who are currently operating with freedom as he describes.

“I made a family choice” he added. “It was a life balance for me. I was living two-and-a-bit hours away from home, I’ve got three teenage boys. I wanted to come home and kick the ball in the back garden with them for a bit, go on holiday and get some sunshine and play footy on the beach with the kids, be a husband for my wife. But I’ve had three months of that and she is sick to death of me!

“I love football, I listen to podcasts on my treadmill. I listen to Neil Warnock and he has retired about 14 times. You don’t give up on football, football gives up on you in the end. I’m never going to say I am retiring. I just needed to reenergise and what a club to come back to.

“I understand the pressure of 40,000 fans. What’s good for me is that the owner isn’t saying ‘it’s promotion this year’. I don’t think there is any teams that will runaway with this league but we will be competitive. But there is no huge pressure to be first or second or you are out. Some clubs I’ve managed, you have to win every game.”