Tony Mowbray gives this assessment of his ambitions at Sunderland this season ahead of Middlesbrough test

Tony Mowbray says he believes the Championship is wide open this season but has said Sunderland have to just take each game as it comes.

Sunderland's 3-0 win over Rotherham United in Mowbray's first game in charge moved the Black Cats to within striking distance of the play-off places in the early table.

With a young squad still adapting to the league, Mowbray was clear when asked about his aspirations for this season that there would be some difficult days and dips in form along the way. He has been recruited to develop the club’s young players and has made clear the ambition of the ownership of the club to grow the club ‘incrementally’.

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However, he does feel that well-organised teams can make a dent in a division lacking a standout team like Fulham were last season.

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray

"We've just got to take each game as it comes," Mowbray said.

"Look, it's a tough league. There's a lot of travelling, a lot of experienced players, a lot of experienced coaches and every game is tough.

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"It can be very attritional. We aspire to win and keep winning but I know there are some difficult games and days around the corner - that's football.

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"What I do believe.. there's no Fulham in the league this year. You played them last year and you felt their quality all over the pitch, their positional play and the speed they moved the ball, it was a different quality.

"I'm not sure there's any of those teams in the league this year. If you can get your own model right and your team functioning, I think anyone can be competitive. All the games I've watched our team, they've been competitive. Norwich are favourites for promotion this year and for large parts of that game we were the better football side, more positive and looked like we were going to score.

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"We should be positive and look, who knows as the games tick away, we've shown we can win home and away.

"It's a great league and it's exciting, so let's enjoy the journey."

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While Mowbray believes it is an open division this season, he feels the stronger sides are beginning to hit their stride and has warned over a stern test on Monday night against Middlesbrough.

Chris Wilder's side have endured a frustrating start to the season but retain some impressive talent and are widely expected to push for the upper end of the table this season.

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Mowbray watched their 2-1 defeat against Watford and despite watching his former club concede a late goal, he said the quality of the game underlined the task at end.

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“I watched the Watford vs Middlesbrough game and I thought the Championship is looking stronger every week because I did feel it was lacking quality in the early weeks and now I think the big teams are starting to show their qualities," he said.

"It was a really high class game.

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“They will be a different test for us next Monday away in a vociferous atmosphere and a local derby. Young boys, can they stand up to it? What I can guarantee our supporters is that they will be giving everything and they will be fighting tooth and nail for every ball."