Sunderland, Swansea axe managers; Sheff Weds, QPR on the up? – F365’s Championship Spotlight | OneFootball

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·8 December 2023

Sunderland, Swansea axe managers; Sheff Weds, QPR on the up? – F365’s Championship Spotlight

Article image:Sunderland, Swansea axe managers; Sheff Weds, QPR on the up? – F365’s Championship Spotlight

Tony Mowbray and Michael Duff were sacked this week.

The Championship Spotlight is on Sunderland and Swansea City after they swung the managerial axe, while Sheffield Wednesday and QPR *might* be on the up…


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SUNDERLAND AND SWANSEA SWING THE AXE The managerial game is a cut-throat business and two of this season’s nine sackings so far took place on Tuesday as Sunderland and Swansea City parted ways with Tony Mowbray and Michael Duff respectively.

Regarding Sunderland and Mowbray, despite them finishing in the play-offs last season, this has always felt like a cursed marriage.

After being drafted in to succeed now-Stoke City boss Alex Neil (who is on the brink of the sack himself), Mowbray did a great job for the surprise promotion candidates in 2022/23.

Despite this, reports indicated Sunderland were considering sacking Mowbray and these rumblings gave the impression that the veteran coach was going to be in hot water as soon as the club suffered a decline in form.

And their current five-game winless run – which includes defeats to struggling duo Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town – has proven to be his downfall.

Last season’s success has raised expectations at the Stadium of Light and with TEAMtalk reporting Reims boss Will Still and Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna are on Sunderland’s optimistic ‘shortlist’, it’s clear the club’s board have grand expectations and the unfashionable 60-year-old was going to be ousted at the first opportunity.

While Mowbray did not fit the desired mould at Sunderland, the Duff-Swansea City relationship looked set to fail from the off.

Duff worked wonders at Cheltenham Town and Barnsley so a step up to the Championship was warranted, but he felt shoehorned in at Swansea City.

A club whose supporters demand possession-based tactics appointed Duff, a manager renowned for his old-school and unstylish approach.

His past success with this preferred style cannot be denied, but it was never going to stick with Swansea City’s supporters, who have been calling for his head for much of this season.

Duff will learn from his Swansea City failure and come again at this level, just as Mowbray will when the right club seek his services.

LEAM IN AT ROTHERHAM AFTER JONES SAYS NO While Sunderland and Swansea City begin their search for a new manager, Rotherham United are *finally* reaching the end of this process after Matt Taylor was dismissed more than three weeks ago.

Rotherham’s restricted budget and likely relegation from the Championship ensured this post was not highly sought after, but at one stage last week, the appointment of ex-Southampton boss Nathan Jones looked set to be completed.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, Jones would have been the perfect fit for Rotherham. He was very, very bad at Southampton but his stellar work at Luton Town made him suitable for the Millers and the South Yorkshire outfit ideal for the manager.

As awful as his spell at Southampton was, Jones’ stint at Luton still stands him in very good stead at this level and as F365’s resident Miller, I pessimistically felt his potential appointment was too good to be true.

And sadly this proved to be the case as it has been widely reported that Jones has turned down Rotherham United.

The Championship strugglers could not afford to get too downhearted over this snub as after wasting three weeks chasing Jones (and others), they were back to square one and required a speedy appointment ahead of the breathless sprint towards the Christmas and New Year fixtures.

Thankfully, the club’s board have got their act together and they have settled on former Wigan Athletic boss Leam Richardson. His arrival is a less exciting prospect than Jones, but he is still a solid appointment for the Millers.

Richardson did a wonderful job at Wigan before his unfair dismissal in November 2022, which came not long after signing a new long-term contract. His Latics side were not renowned for thrilling football, but he made them organised and difficult to beat. And with the position Rotherham United are in, this is just what they need.

SHEFF WEDS AND QPR’S NEW MANAGER BOUNCES Rotherham United’s position has been worsened by Sheffield Wednesday and QPR picking up under their new managers.

The Dejphon Chansiri-led Hillsborough circus has been doomed to fail from the get-go this season, but inexperienced head coach Danny Rohl is making the best of a bad situation at the moment.

Well-regarded from his spells at RB Leipzig, Southampton, Bayern Munich and Germany, the 34-year-old earned his second win as Owls boss in his eighth game in charge last weekend against Blackburn Rovers.

Sheff Weds’ squad is not good enough to compete at this level and they were unable to lay a glove on most of their opponents while Xisco Munoz was at the helm, but Rohl and his staff have managed to raise performance levels significantly.

They are still likely set for relegation, but Rohl has admirably been able to inspire the disgruntled Sheff Weds fanbase and Chansiri would be wise – regardless of how this season ends – to stick with him.

Over at QPR, new head coach Marti Cifuentes is far more likely to save his side from relegation.

After club legend Gareth Ainsworth – in spite of his dull style of football – just kept QPR in the Championship this season, they were only heading in one direction under the ex-Wycombe boss this term.

QPR’s board wisely decided to part ways with Ainsworth before they were too far gone in the relegation fight and his exit preceded the arrival of the former Hammarby head coach.

Ainsworth’s methodical but uninspiring philosophy blended well with Wycombe, but it did not allow him to get the best out of QPR attacking standouts Ilias Chair and Chris Willock.

Cifuentes has let the reins off QPR of late and so far, this is working a treat. His first five games in charge have resulted in two wins, two draws and one defeat. They can make it three wins in a row when they host Hull City this weekend and this would leave them within a point of safety if Huddersfield Town are beaten by Bristol City.

QPR, Sheff Weds and Rotherham looked set to be cut adrift at one stage but the recent upturn in form of two of the bottom three will be welcomed by neutrals as we look to have a proper relegation fight on our hands.

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