Who is he?
Jack Ross is a name that is probably unfamiliar to many Sunderland supporters, but he’s making all the right noises within the game and will arrive from St Mirren highly tipped to go on and do great things in management.
He hails from Falkirk and won a host of personal honours at the end of the season, most notably the awards for PFA Scottish manager of the year and the Scottish Championship manager of the year.
At the age of 41, Ross is just at the start of his career off the field, and he’s coming to Sunderland on the back of successful spells elsewhere, albeit at smaller clubs.
Outside of the game he’s incredibly grounded, and holds an MA Honours degree in Economics. During his playing days he used to be the chairman of the PFA Scotland players’ union, and is regarded as one of the most switched-on and level-headed coaches to emanate from the Scottish game in years.
Ross was interviewed for the Barnsley job in February when they looked to replace Paul Heckingbottom, and spoke earlier this month to Ipswich Town about replacing Mick McCarthy after permission was given by his club in order for him to do so.
What’s his past experience in the game?
Ross had an 11-year playing career which started with Clyde and ended at Dunfermline Athletic, with prominent spells at Hartlepool United, Falkirk and St Mirren in-between.
A defender by trade, Ross also picked up a Scotland B cap during his playing days and eventually retired due to a knee injury in 2011, instead focusing on a career in coaching.
Ross started out with Dumbarton as a coach, became their caretaker manager, left to join up with Hearts as the head of their U20s side in 2014 and then took up his first permanent role as a manager in 2015 with part-time Alloa Athletic.
He was unable to halt their slide into the Scottish second division, but in the following season completely turned their fortunes around and was eventually touted by St Mirren to take over the reins from former Sunderland midfielder Alex Rae in 2016.
Just like at Alloa, Ross was charged with keeping his side up and this time managed it - before turning the club on its head in the following year, walking the Scottish Championship this past season and, in the process, earning prominent individual accolades from the PFA.
Ross leaves St Mirren having promoted them to the top flight in Scotland, in a far healthier position than the one that he found them in.
What could he bring?
When Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald spoke passionately about their vision for the club on our Podcast this week, it was very clear what kind of manager they were hoping to appoint in order to take the club forward next season.
They wanted a man with a winning mentality, capable of rolling up their sleeves - someone that can bring us success, but can also rule with an iron fist.
Ross has worked in difficult jobs already in management and his complete turnaround of St Mirren in such a short space of time with little to no funds has been admirable - but the scale of the task that he’ll face in coming to Sunderland is something far, far bigger.
Is he going to be the man to set us back on a path to success? Who knows. What is for sure is that we’re making an appointment unlike ANY we’ve made since even before Peter Reid arrived - an unheralded, ambitious young coach who, despite having a decent reputation, isn’t someone widely known within the game.
It’s time to realign expectations at Sunderland, and our focus now goes to ensuring this club gets out of League One as quickly as possible. It’s a huge challenge, and we must back the judgement of our new owners in their appointment if this is going to start as smoothly as possible.
Here’s hoping that, in taking a gamble, Sunderland and Jack Ross become a match made in heaven - God knows we all deserve it.