Ross discusses Sunderland rebuild
Jack Ross has made a great start to his Sunderland career, with the team sitting second in the table after six successive wins but more importantly the team all seems to be pulling in the right direction and for the first time in a long time, there appears to be a togetherness about the squad.
Ross sat down with The Coaches Voice to discuss how he has changed the mentality around the team around in such a short period of time and during his discussion, he mentioned how Stewart Donald had asked him two key questions before he took over:
There were two key questions that the club’s owner, Steward Donald, asked me when he was bringing me in. They were pretty closely linked.
The first was about recruitment. Did I want to bring someone in to help with that side of things?
We faced a huge challenge in that respect: the squad was going through a big transition in a short amount of time. Given that most of my playing and coaching career had been in Scotland, I knew it was important to bring in someone who had a strong knowledge of English football.
That was former Watford and Manchester City goalkeeper Tony Coton. I did my homework on him, as I’m sure he did on me. I met him, and liked him. He’s vastly experienced as a player and in his post-playing career, but even he said he’s never faced a challenge like that before. I don’t think either of us ever will again.
It was tough going, getting the squad to where it was at the start of the season. We were looking for players with important attributes. The playing ones speak for themselves, but there were aspects of their personality that I knew I wanted the players to have.
Which brings me to the second key question Stewart asked after showing me around our brilliant training ground, the Academy of Light.
“Is this place actually part of the reason the club has been on a downward spiral – because it’s so good? Does it make players pampered, soft and over-privileged?”
My answer to that was: only if you’ve got the wrong players in the building. If you’ve got the right ones it’s a platform for excellence, because it gives them every opportunity to be the best they can be, if they use this place properly.
I wanted players who were delighted to be here. Brilliant club. Unbelievable facility. Players should walk in here and say: “Wow. What a place this is to come and work as a footballer.”
We also had to have players with the courage to play here. It’s not easy – there are big demands on them, particularly in our stadium. The home record wasn’t good and I was aware that the atmosphere within the stadium had been difficult. We needed players who would continue to take responsibility.
Players who would continue to take the ball. To make decisions in a game that might not always be right, but to have the courage to go and do it again.
Finally, we needed players who were at the right age and stage of their career to grow with us. We want to go to the Championship – and I want those players to go, too. We want to go to the Premier League – I want them to come with us.
Now I’ve got a squad of footballers who are grateful for this. Who are embracing the challenge and the opportunity. I think that’s reflected in their performances.
How much of a difficult job Ross walked into is well known with even Mick McCarthy chiming in back in Feburary when he underlined how difficult it would be to turn the club around:
...it’s like trying to stop an oil tanker with a canoe paddle, I can tell you. It’s hard work.
That phrase is something Ross himself used during the interview but Sunderland’s manager believes that turning around process is now over and the oil tanker is now moving forward:
This job is a bit like turning an oil tanker: a big, strong, powerful thing that’s moving in one direction. We’ve got to get it to stop, turn it around and get the momentum going the opposite way.
That’s not easy. It takes a lot of work to do it.
But I think we’ve turned it. Now it’s about getting it moving in the right direction.
You can read the full interview with The Coaches Voice HERE.
Eastleigh faced National League leaders Salford City at the weekend and Max Stryjek’s loan club were unfortunate not to come away with all three points.
The first half was quite a quiet affair, with Stryjek being largely untroubled in the Eastleigh goal but Ben Williamson gave the hosts the lead just after the half-time break.
Stryjek almost made himself the hero with a minute remaining of normal time as he spectacularly tipped an effort from Salford’s Rory Gaffney over the crossbar but the visitors still had enough time to get themselves level as Lois Maynard found the bottom corner to pinch a point.
Despite Elliot Embleton’s best efforts, Grimsby Town lost 1-0 at Cambridge United in League Two.
Embleton had four shots on target during the game but couldn’t find a way past David Forde in the Cambridge goal. The Sunderland youngster had two efforts on goal in the last 10 minutes as Grimsby pushed for a win but shortly after the second of those attempts, Cambridge broke and Paul Lewis won it for the U’s.
Gateshead were 1-0 down at Wrexham when Luke Molyneux entered the fray with a little over half-an-hour remaining, he had a chance five minutes later but failed to trouble the goalkeeper and Wrexham then doubled their lead.
Molyneux did see two efforts blocked late on, from which Luke Armstrong pulled a goal back but Wrexham swiftly wrapped up the scoring to win 3-1.
Connor Shields was an unused substitute as Alloa Athletic fell to a 1-0 home defeat by Dunfermline Athletic, with Sunderland academy product Lee Robinson on form in goal for the visitors.
Finally, Lamine Kone started for Strasbourg as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Toulouse, with one-time Sunderland target Max Gradel scoring the equaliser for Toulouse.
Giaccherini scores embarrassing own goal
Emanuele Giaccherini has generally had a successful time of it with Serie A side Chievo since he joined them, initially on loan, last season.
His luck was out this weekend though, as the former Sunderland midfielder scored a goal that even Santiago Vergini would have been proud of.
During his team’s 2-0 home defeat to Sassuolo, the visitors were 1-0 up with seconds remaining when Giaccherini tried to chest a rebounded shot back to his goalkeeper, you can see the end result below: