sunderland, Exclusive: Jack Clarke on ‘perfect’ Sunderland boss Mowbray and praise for Leicester City, Southampton stars

Exclusive: Jack Clarke on ‘perfect’ Sunderland boss Mowbray and praise for Leicester City, Southampton stars

Sunderland have found success since returning to the Championship in 2022 and a big part of that has been winger Jack Clarke.

Sunderland first had Clarke on loan from Tottenham Hotspur for the second half of the 2021/22 campaign. He came in for the Black Cats’ League One promotion push and helped them make a Championship return via the play-offs.

The Wearside outfit moved to snap him up permanently the summer after their promotion and since then, Clarke has taken his game to another level. He now has 21 goals and 19 assists to his name in 87 games, many of which have come under Tony Mowbray.

Mowbray was appointed in the early stages of last season following Alex Neil’s exit to Stoke City. Now, Clarke has credited the Sunderland boss heavily with his development over the past year or so.

Speaking exclusively to Sky Bet on behalf of The72, Clarke labelled Mowbray as the ‘perfect’ boss to come in, highlighting how he has helped him. He said:

“Tony Mowbray was the perfect manager to come in – he gives me freedom to go out and play, and doesn’t try over complicate things, he knows that for me and other creative players it’s about nurturing what we have and trying to create something every game.

“He’s really good with us and just gives us that platform to go out there and express ourselves and you can see that with not only my performances but the team’s performances as well. 

sunderland boss tony mowbray
Image courtesy of: LEE SMITH/REUTERS.

“We always speak about little things during the game, for example whether he thinks I’m better off going down the line, or coming inside, how he sets the team up and where he sees the weaknesses in other teams and their defences.

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“He always speaks about shooting with no back lift, mentioning players like Thierry Henry and others from his era, trying to draw similarities from how they used to improve their game and score goals.” 

Despite the best efforts of Clarke and Mowbray, Sunderland ultimately fell short in the promotion race last season. They were beaten by Luton Town in the play-offs, with the Hatters going on to complete a remarkable rise to the Premier League.

22-year-old Clarke and his teammates have their sights on bettering their efforts of last season too.

“To replicate what we did last year, if not better that,” the Sunderland star replied when asked about the goals for the season.

“Personally, I think the division is even tougher this year with a lot of strong teams in the top six, eight, and ten – we’ve just got to be involved in that and part of those top teams for as long as possible.

“We had a lot of injuries last year that jeopardised us a bit towards the back end of the season, so hopefully if we can keep everybody fit, we can look to build off what we did last year, if not better it.” 

As Clarke said himself, the Championship is looking even tougher this season. Between relegated sides Leeds United, Leicester City and Southampton, there’s players who should arguably be playing top-flight football rather than in the second-tier.

It means Clarke will be tested against some seriously challenging opponents, and two who have already given the winger plenty to think about are Kyle Walker-Peters and James Justin.

“Even though we won the game 5-0, Kyle Walker-Peters put up a really good performance and he’s a top player. He is a very intelligent right back, in terms of positioning and he was very good on the ball. Same with James Justin at Leicester – knew when to get forward and hold the position.

“These are the sort of players you want to be coming up against and challenging yourself against to see how you fair up and I think I did alright in both games.  

“There are a lot of tough defenders in this league, teams are well organised and set up and a lot of the time. Especially for me, I’ve noticed that I’m getting double marked and that affects my game in a way that I can’t express myself as much as I want to, but also leaves space for other people to flourish.”

Sunderland are back in action against Plymouth Argyle next weekend as they look to rise from 6th in the Championship table. Clarke will be hoping to add to his tally of nine league goals while Mowbray and co look to make it four games without defeat.

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