Tonys Talking Points: Tonys Talking Points: SAFC vs Middlesbrough

 Sunderland welcome north-east neighbours Middlesbrough to the Stadium of Light on Sunday for a midday kick-off.

 The Lads are looking to bounce back from their recent defeat to Swansea City whilst Boro are on a four match winning run in the Sky Bet Championship.

 Ahead of the meeting against a former employer, Head Coach Tony Mowbray has been discussing the salient talking points ahead of the game...

Given that Sunderland welcome a local rival to Wearside, how are you feeling ahead of the game?

“They are games that footballers should want to play in. It will be a big crowd and there will be a bit of local pride at stake between two teams that are doing okay in the league.

“You know that I live on Teesside. Every time I go to the garage or the shop, everybody wishes you well. But as I said the last time we played Middlesbrough, everyone is nice but they don’t want you to get a result on the day.

“I’m really looking forward to it and it will be a really good game. Watching Middlesbrough games over recent weeks, they have done exceptionally well.

“Michael has brought a confidence and a belief in the team. They are very good with the ball, they have got good rotations and passing lines. It will be a really good game of football.

“Our team is in a good place. We’ve got some good players ourselves and it will be a really good football match."

It's quite often teams get a new manager bounce but Michael Carrick has built some momentum. How do you feel he has done?

“Middlesbrough have invested a lot over the years and Steve Gibson has been there for a long time.

“As different managers come, different managers like different types of players. I think the impressive thing with Michael is that he hasn’t changed too much from Chris Wilder and yet he seems to be getting a positive reaction from the team. He’s found a slightly different style of play.

“Chris Wilder built an amazing reputation with outside centre backs in a back three overlapping their wing-backs and creating amazing overloads down the sides. He did amazingly well with Sheffield United.

“He tried to bring that to Middlesbrough and for whatever reason, it didn’t pan out as they would’ve liked.

“Michael has brought his own style and his own way of playing and his own way of handling players. They are all reacting very positively at the moment.

“The point I am trying to make is that they have got good players and that is why it is a really good challenge for us. It’s a derby game, it’s a home in front of a big crowd and we’ve got really good players as well.

“I said to them on the training ground this morning, they have got to enjoy the challenge, they have got to show how talented we can be and face it head on."

Amad was recently crowned the PFA Young Player of the Month for December. How important has he been to the side? 

“He has done exceptionally well. From being one of a handful of young signings on the periphery when I arrived, he’s earned the right to play almost every minute of every game. That’s not because of anything other than his talent really.

“He has earned the right to do that with his performance levels being extremely high. There was a purple patch where he scored goals in just about every game but he is always a threat to the opposition. People dangle a leg and he dances past them.

“He’s scored some goals from outside the box, he links amazingly well with our other strikers. Much warranted that he won a prize for his performance level and let’s hope he can bring that this weekend."

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