New ownership: check.
Debt free: check.
New manager: check.
It’s difficult not to feel optimistic as a new dawn emerges over our club, and although we should remain as cautiously confident as we can, it’s easy to let yourself feel overcome with relief and optimism that this could be the start of something special.
That being said, despite this initial burst of excitement the majority of fans will understand that these last couple of weeks are merely the first steps on a long journey back to redemption, and the hard work starts now.
However, moving into the hot seat, what should Jack Ross prioritise in the short-term in order that he starts his reign on the right foot?
Four of my mates trying to buy season cards this afternoon. Fantastic stuff!— Roker Report (@RokerReport) May 25, 2018
Encourage yours along too - we need every single fan that we can get in the SoL next season. Great to see the Direct Debit scheme extended. #SAFC https://t.co/ZklGYQDQV3
Get the fans onside
We’re all excited, and we’re all desperate to see Sunderland get back to winning ways. Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven have done a sterling job in generating excitement among the fanbase - hopefully the new gaffer can keep this momentum going.
Jack Ross returned from a family holiday in the last couple of days, and will now be the focus of fans’ scrutiny as we look ahead to the coming season.
The club’s website have already released a couple of interviews with the new boss, and for further a peak inside the Scotsman’s footballing mind, look no further than Roker Report’s own Andy Tomlinson and his recent article analysing Jack Ross’s BBC blogs.
However, for another brilliant bit of insight - tune into this week’s Wise Men Say podcast, where Jack Ross will be this week’s special guest.
Ross needs to pick up the baton from Donald and Methven in order to keep up the recent positive impetus. This week - especially his performance this Thursday - will be key in ensuring fans continue to come back to the club in their droves.
If Ross can get fans onside, his side will reap the benefits from our passion and enthusiasm this coming campaign.
Get moving on the transfer front
Ten or more players will be moving on from the club this summer; Ross will have to act swiftly and decisively in order to ensure he has a squad capable of fighting it out for a chance of promotion.
It’s probably worth noting now that the calibre of player we look toward this summer won’t necessarily be the standard we have been used to in years gone by; however, to be fair, big name signings haven’t exactly set the SoL alight in recent times.
Signings from north of the border could well be a common theme - we recently published this article listing several youngsters Jack Ross might hope to lure down to Wearside, and if truth be told, that’s likely the type of player we’ll pursue this summer.
Ultimately, Ross will be looking to make a statement early doors with his acquisitions, and many of those players might not be household names. Fans needs to be patient and trust the manager; gone are the days of throwing money at what ifs and has beens - now we need a group eager to find success with the new man at the helm.
Shift the deadwood!
On the flip-side, Ross will also have to quickly find out who wants to stay and fight it out, as well as those desperate to find a move elsewhere. A host of ‘big names’ will likely be off in the coming weeks, and the club’s new leadership team will hopefully be able to use that money wisely. We still owe over £20 million in legacy transfer payments, so a solid series of sales is much needed.
This summer is a perfect opportunity for Ross and the new owners to clear the decks and start afresh. The pace at which Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven have acted thus far has been impressive to witness, but we need to keep this momentum in order that we are able to use as much time as possible this summer to assemble and gel together a team capable of bringing pride back to the city and the fans.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a ruthless streak within Jack Ross, and although every player will likely be given a chance to speak with the new manager and owners, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Scotsman swinging the axe frequently.
Part of his remit will likely be to lower the club’s expenditure on wages, and should he have a list of players he’d be keen to work with, a host of current players could well be on their way out.
The club will see this as a chance to start afresh, but how many of the old guard will remain to see the coming season?
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a Sunderland fan again, and I for one cannot wait to see what kind of team Jack Ross assembles this summer with a full window and pre-season at his disposal.
Fans have already begun to get behind the club’s new ownership, and hopefully Ross can add fuel to the fire of optimism sweeping Sunderland right now with his early actions.
Welcome to Wearside, Jack, and here’s to a successful era under your tutelage!