Hours before Tuesday’s game with Grimsby, Sunderland announced that they had released Jack Ross from his managerial duties - but, after two defeats in the opening eleven league games of the season, was this a good decision by Stewart Donald and the board?
After performances seemed to be deteriorating, it proved to be the end of Jack Ross’ time at the club where he was appointed after Ellis Short’s reign as owner was ended by Stewart Donald in June 2018.
After steadying the ship in his first season, Ross lost the EFL Trophy final to Portsmouth on penalties and the Black Cats were defeated in the League One play-off final to Charlton towards the end of May. But, he was given the beginning of the 2019-2020 season to turn things around yet, after two defeats, his time in Wearside has ended.
To people outside of the club I imagine that this looks like a shock dismissal, but to the Sunderland fans it was what was needed at a time where only automatic promotion will do for the Black Cats. Sunderland are eight points off leaders Ipswich, and in the play-off places, but not everything is as rosy as it might appear to some, and there have been concerns over performances and playing style under Ross for some time.
Saturday’s performance at Lincoln simply wasn’t good enough and after the negative displays seemed to be building up after the 1-1 draws against Bolton and Rotherham, we’re now left looking for a new boss.
Who will become Sunderland’s next manager? Right now that’s anyone’s guess, but if the bookies favourites are anything to go by, Sunderland could be targeting Daniel Stendel - the German who was recently sacked by Championship outfit, Barnsley. Whoever it is, hopefully it is someone that can turn the ship around at the Stadium of Light quickly.
The decision taken earlier in the day took much of the focus off the game of football that was due to occur later in the evening. Despite this only being an EFL Trophy match, a win is a win and hopefully it stabilises the mood on the pitch after the inconsistency on it brought about by Jack Ross’s timely dismissal.
James Fowler took charge and managed the team well, and Watmore, McNulty and Grigg were on the score sheet to give them more confidence heading into a long run of league fixtures in such a short space of time. I stated after the Burnley cup match that Grigg’s goal will give him more confidence, but it proved that it didn’t and his struggles continued.
That said, I’m now hoping that a goal and a good ninety minute performance and maybe the arrival of a new manager will inspire Grigg to find his best performances, like what we saw at Wigan.
Whilst Stewart Donald needs to get someone in as soon as possible, they need to be thorough in their process so that they can find the best possible suit for the Sunderland manager’s job at this moment in time.
In Sunderland’s next game we face an away trip to Wycombe Wanderers in just over a week and a half time at Adams Park. Hopefully by this point we will have a new manager, as already mentioned, who this will be is anyone’s guess.
Wycombe are high-flying so far this season and have 23 points on the board; at the moment, they are four points ahead of Sunderland and four points behind Ipswich. Hopefully, the arrival of a new face at the club will inspire the team to a well-needed three points.