Ross had the choice between Ipswich Town and Sunderland. Upon his appointment he stated some of the reasons he picked Sunderland;
“If you look at the history, the facilities and, most important of all, the fanbase, you can see what this club can be.”
His rise through to ranks of football has been meteoric considering his first official management job was in 2015 for Alloa Athletic. Ross, at 41, is considered a young manager and is part of an ever-growing trend of young managers given opportunities to turn clubs around and make them successful.
Jack has been successful where ever he has been. A side from an already doomed Alloa side he has suffered relegation but through no fault of his own. He was actually given a new contract in April in 2016 after the relegation. He went on to break club records and finished 2nd in Scotland’s League 1. He then moved to St Mirren and again proved to be a success. He even won the PFA Scotland manager of the year along with the Scottish Championship and reportedly turned down two opportunities to go and manage elsewhere.
In May 2018, Jack Ross was officially announced as manager of SAFC and lets be fair it’s been a bit of a fairy tale. Two league defeats (so far) and a cup final in his first season isn’t a bad start at all is it?
His style of play is something us fans are not used to. Free flowing attacking football is not something Black cats’ fans haven’t seen since Peter Reid’s days. Scoring in every league game this season along the way, up to Tuesday's battle against Barnsley, has given fans a renewed hope that the club is on its way back. It hasn’t always been plain sailing but compared to the last five or six years it feels like a breath of fresh air.
Flying wingers and strong central midfielders feel like a throwback these days, with wing-backs, ball playing centre backs and centre forwards who are no longer just goal scorers taking centre stage. Jacks’ system seems to incorporate the best of the old style and the new style of football. Long gone are the days of 4-4-2 but Ross has adapted his football into a 4-3-3 attacking system and a 4-5-1 defensive system. He has also signed players who have not only bought into him as a manager but also Sunderland as a club.
There is also a small batch of local boys in the team as well. Honeyman, Leabitter, Robson, Embleton, Molyneux and few more in the lower ranks all hail from, or near to, Sunderland. This core group of local lads is going to be key in the future. I believe the gaffer knows this and having Honeyman as captain is also a great message to send to the academy boys. For too long we have shipped out talent for a profit who, yes, some may have gone on to do very well. The argument for me would be, could they not achieve more here before moving on?
Jordan Henderson is possibly the best player produced by the academy but spent a season or two on the bench or in the reserves at Liverpool. Time which could’ve been spent here growing and developing as a player. Same for Pickford. Despite the summer he had, he has produced a few mistakes which has put him under a spotlight. I’d like to think our manager, and the people above, will see past the money and put the club first. For two seasons in a row Sunderland lost their top scorer half way through the season, Grabban and Maja, this isn’t good enough.
We seem on track for a recovery and a new lease of life. We are close to promotion, have a trip to Wembley booked in and most of all a sense of excitement at the future. For years, floating around relegation left fans glum and back to back relegations left fans in despair. The atmosphere was dull, the team had given up, the owner had given up and the fans were giving up. However, everyone is now pulling together and hopefully we will be back to where we belong soon.