Sunderland sack manager ahead of Newcastle United FA Cup clash as ex-Leeds United boss tipped to take over

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Sunderland have parted ways with manager Tony Mowbray ahead of next month's FA Cup meeting with Newcastle United

Sunderland have sacked Tony Mowbray ahead of next month's third-round FA Cup clash with Newcastle United. The Magpies and the Black Cats will renew their fierce rivalry next month after being drawn to face each other at the Stadium of Light in around four weeks.

The pair have not faced each other since March 2016, when the rivals played out a 1-1 draw at St James' Park. The pair have been in different divisions ever since the 2016-17 campaign but the FA Cup has paired them together in what is arguably the most anticipated clash of the third round next month.

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Ex-Blackburn Rovers, Celtic and Middlesbrough player Mowbray will not be in the dugout for the clash, as he was relieved of his duties on Monday night. Mowbray joined Sunderland in August 2022 after Alex Neil's surprise departure and guided the club to the Championship play-offs in their first season back in the second tier.

They were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual promotion winners Luton Town and sit ninth after 19 fixtures this term. Sunderland have made the 'difficult decision' to part ways with Mowbray with the Black Cats sat just three points behind Hull City in sixth. It comes after a run of three games without a win, following defeats to Plymouth Argyle and Huddersfield Town with Mowbray's final game in charge a 1-1 draw at Millwall.

Sunderland's sporting director Kristjaan Speakman commented: “All at SAFC have thoroughly enjoyed working with Tony and he is quite rightly held in high regard by our players and staff, and our supporters. After arriving at an uncertain time, he helped guide us to the Sky Bet Championship play-offs and played an important role in developing our team.

"This was a difficult decision to make, but we remain loyal to our ambition and our strategy, and felt that now was the right moment to take this step. We are now focused on identifying the right candidate and we will continue to support our coaching team and players throughout the interim period.”

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Chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus added: “I would like to place on record my gratitude to Tony for his hard work and commitment to Sunderland, a place where he will always be welcome. As custodians of our great club, we believe in our long-term strategy that we hope will ensure sustainability and success for SAFC. Central to that approach is a relentless demand for a high performance culture to be implemented throughout the club and the development of a strong playing identity that you, our loyal supporters, can all be proud of.

"Your continued support will also be fundamental to that progress and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Stadium of Light throughout the festive period and as we enter 2024.”

Ex-Leeds United and Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom is being tipped as the early favourite to replace Mowbray, with the Sheffield United manager set to be sacked by the Bramall Lane club on Tuesday. The Blades have endured a tough start to the Premier League campaign, including an 8-0 loss to Newcastle United earlier in the season.

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