Dear Roker Report,
In my opinion, contrary to the views of many in the aftermath of Jack Ross’ departure this week, our newly departed addition to the list of those who’ve headed to the managerial chopping block at the Stadium of Light in recent times was not given too raw a deal.
Yes, he came into a club in obvious transition with a massively depleted squad both in terms of numbers and in terms of morale. That he yielded fairly immediate positive results in the opening salvos of his first season is laudable, and will no doubt make him of interest to clubs elsewhere in the future.
However, he also came to a club in an enviable position in the eyes of almost any other club in the league - he could create a team in his image with fresh, supportive owners. It was hardly a Coventry style situation, and we were humiliated by them later in the season.
The optimism pervading the fanbase has been alluded to recently as a defence of Ross’ team, and while this was of course buoyed by on pitch success, it was also attributable to engaged ownership and the novelty of new, or renewed, experiences such as the unforgettable trips to Blackpool (even if, just before Maja’s fleeing to France, the game itself was eminently forgettable) and Wembley. I feel that remnants of such feeling actually helped Ross hold onto his job for longer than may have otherwise been the case; while there were the usual complainants who called for Ross’ dismissal from the first signs of difficulty in the spring, the fury of fans has been relatively muted compared to that surrounding other failed managers this decade, notably a certain Steve Bruce.
With this in mind, the sacking may come to be seen as sad - especially given the apparent absence of an obvious replacement - but not indefensible. While results may be bandied about as a defence of Ross’ performance, promotion is required, and promotion has not been achieved. Nor would it have been on current form alone, notwithstanding the particularly worrying performances seen at Ipswich, Peterborough and Lincoln. Such collapses away from home may also point to a further weakness in the argument that Ross was essentially hounded out by fans - while previous Sunderland sides evidently struggled under the pressure of playing at the Stadium of Light, we prospered there even when many fans wanted Ross gone. This suggests a deeper failure, whether it be Ross’ cautious style of play inviting pressure away from home, or an inability to motivate the players when not backed by 30,000 at home.
In the end, the wisdom of this decision will probably come to be judged by the results obtained by any future management, and Ross’ future managerial exploits. However, to strive to achieve promotion when the current manager is falling far short of the goal explicitly fed to fans by the owner of a 100 point season - whether such promises display a worrying lack of circumspection on Donald’s behalf or not - is surely a laudable enough goal. Here’s hoping in the future we can thank Ross for what he did achieve, from a point where both us and him are in a better place then we are this week.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: You’re absolutely spot on in your summary there Mitch, and I agree with almost all of it. I was one of the fans who, despite feeling the disappointment of our play-off loss, was still willing to support Jack this season.
I have no ill-feeling towards Jack, it just became clear even back in pre-season that there wasn’t the same feel about the squad going into the new season, and that we were perhaps lacking the energy needed to get our season off to a great start.
We stuttered through the majority of the games we’ve played so far during this campaign and that’s concerning - sometimes you need an adrenaline shot and I’m pretty sure that was never coming under Jack who, whilst trying his best, wasn’t providing the supporters with any hope that he was capable of mounting a serious challenge for promotion.
Dear Roker Report,
While the job that Jack Ross managed last year has to be commended to a certain level, and I’m indeed grateful for what he was able to put together, the sad reality is that he seemed overawed and like the job was too big for him. I certainly think we would not be achieving any of the set goals if he remained in charge. I wish him every success in the future and can see him doing well elsewhere, probably back home.
As for Sunderland, though, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Ever since the sacking of Peter Reid, with the only exception really being Sam Allardyce, we’re not asking a new manager to come in and rescue a sinking ship. We’re not where we want to be in League One, no, but we’re not propping up a table or asking for a miracle to keep us up, like we have been for the last 10-15 years.
The team we have is more than competitive, and when you look at the squad, it is the kind of team that should be pushing for honours, and should have promotion as the number one focus. Makes a huge change from asking Allardyce to sort out Advocaat’s mess, or Di Canio to save O’Neill’s side, or Poyet to clean up the Di Canio shambles, or even Ross to stop the rot. We have a strong team for the league we’re in, which we haven’t been able to say since probably the start of the decade.
The appointment obviously has to be well thought out and be the right guy for what the club wants to achieve, but I think the new man who walks in is walking into a football club in a much better state than those who have before him. It’s a novel change.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Your point about the job being too big for him is something I definitely subscribe to. It almost felt like he was out of his comfort zone, and that’s understandable. Jack’s experiences in football have all came with small clubs, both as a player and a manager. Sunderland, especially in League One, are a huge club with huge expectations. Managing a massive squad and trying to get this team out of the league is not an easy task and is something that should only be attempted by men with balls of steel.
Jack gave it his best effort but I think he’s just not ready for a job like this yet, despite results during his stint here indicating he did a solid enough job. He’ll likely go back to Scotland and take a job there and be very successful, and I hope that he is. That still doesn’t mean that he’s the right man for Sunderland, and I think most supporters will agree with that.
Dear Roker Report,
Like many other fans glad to see the back of Jack Ross proven that the job was to big for him. Last season cost us promotion with to many draws & negative tactics plus substitutions which left us all scratching our heads in disbelief. I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon I wanted change at the end of last season.
I read earlier the name of Nigel Pearson good call like Keano would kick a few arses into gear or ship them out. I hope the next appointment is inspiring to get us on the road to promotion which we so badly need financially & reputation.
Haway the lads - always red and white.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I get why people are suggesting managers who represent discipline, but I’m not sure that should be the number one trait we’re looking for in the new manager. I don’t think discipline is a massive problem amongst the current players. We need someone with a big character, charisma and plays a style of football that wins us games. That’s it!