Sunderland linked with Nice guy Sablé as hunt for Mowbray replacement begins

Written by on 6th December 2023

OGC Nice’s assistant coach Julien Sablé has emerged as the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Tony Mowbray as Sunderland manager.

But even though Sablé’s odds are evens to join the Black Cats, BBC Newcastle’s Sunderland commentator Nick Barnes thinks it will be a “difficult” deal to complete.

Julien Sable on Nice bench. Credit Alamy 

The 43-year-old former Saint-Étienne interim manager is now odds on favourite with the bookies to take the reins of the Wearside club following Mowbray’s dismissal on Monday evening.

Sablé is assistant to head coach Francesco Farioli, who was also linked to Sunderland before he took the Nice job in the summer. Their side currently sit second in Ligue 1 having only just lost their first game of the season on December 2.

Fan group Nice Stadium Supporters (NSS) has credited Sablé with playing “a big part” in Nice’s recent success, praising his “link between the coach and the players.”

“He will be close to his players, but he will need a little time to adapt” the group told Spark.

NSS was optimistic of the impact that Sablé could have on the Black Cats’ team saying he would bring “freshness and rigour” to the club. The Frenchman also has the right qualities for a club who are looking at a mid to longer-term approach, according to the group.

But BBC Newcastle’s Nick Barnes says that there are still so many “imponderables” when it comes to Mowbray’s replacement.

“I suspect the players will be quite shocked, they are a close-knit group and were close to Tony,” Barnes told Spark.

“Tony Mowbray was a bonding element and a major reason the club has been doing so well.

“I think [sacking Mowbray] is probably unfair, but I think this has been rumbling. There’s been tension for some time.”

Tony Mowbray – Sunderland v Southampton. Credit: Alamy 

On Mowbray’s replacement Barnes said: “I understand the club didn’t actually have someone lined up when Mowbray was sacked.

“When managers go you get an orgy of names thrown in the hat. Nobody knows. The club keeps such a tight lid on who they’re looking at.

“It is easy to link names, because there are a lot of young up and coming managers around the continent like Sablé and Will Still.”

If appointed, Sablé would be taking up his first full time head coach position at a club outside of his native France.

Barnes said it was difficult to predict how he would do in a “challenging” Championship season.

“There are foreign managers in the division doing well, Corberan for example.

“They have a background in English football because foreign managers keep tabs on the Premier League and Championship because they can make a name for themselves.”

However, Barnes thinks any deal for Sablé will be “difficult” to get over the line – but is clear of the amount of control the incoming head coach will have.

He said: “Whoever takes the job must do the bidding of Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus – they will be purely coaches rather than managers.”

The success of a new head coach will come down to “relationships they can forge with the players. Whoever comes in has to be able to maintain the trust Mowbray built up.”

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