Jack Ross arrived on Wearside amid scenes of joy, anxiety, and hope.
Fans were euphoric upon learning the news that Ellis Short had finally agreed to sell his failed experiment after multiple seasons of sheer agony. The crippling debts and sky high interest was all but gone, and emerging from the shroud of despair was Stewart Donald with the promise of resurrection.
Fans were of course excited at the prospect of a clean slate, a chance to move back in the right direction, a chance to do things right both on and off the pitch. Yet, fans were also cautious, too, and understandably so. Many questions emerged as old queries faded into the ether.
Fans were curious to learn whether the new regime would be able to remedy our ailing fortunes. Yet, despite the reservations, fans bore a sense of renewed hope: perhaps this could be the dawn of renewable success on Wearside?
Jack Ross’ opening weeks as Sunderland manager saw fifteen first-team players leave the club in search of pastures new.
Subsequently, amid the enormous turnover on the pitch, the club’s new ownership were left with the daunting task of trying to sift through the maelstrom of chaos left in the wake of Ellis Short’s ownership - £1,000 per-month to rotate plastic plants, anyone?
The duty of assembling a squad capable of finding any modicum of success must have been a formidable one to say the least. In spite of the swollen coffers offered by Donald and co. Ross and the recruitment team were left attempting to attract talent to a side that had just suffered a double-relegation, had flirted with insolvency, and had few quality players remaining within its ranks.
To enter into that fray with the sense of belief that you know what to do is commendable, but to emerge with tangible signs of success is very impressive.
However, this isn’t an article aimed at merely waxing lyrical about Ross’ impact on the side thus far. As H.G. Wells once noted:
We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity.
The grindstone that is this season has certainly kept Jack Ross keen. For, despite Ross’ relative success thus far, people want more.
And rightly so.
Jack Ross will likely welcome this ever-growing challenge because it is one that will cement his credentials as a top manager in the game.
Bringing twelve new recruits into the club during the summer whilst promoting talent from with and then moulding said players into a side capable of playing together as a cohesive unit is impressive and deserves credit.
Yes, League One may be limited in its quality, yet as we’ve seen already this season, it won’t be a stroll in the park. But, fans demand success and that is Jack Ross’ goal as manager of this much adored club.
A trophy in the form of the EFL Trophy and promotion back into the Championship are Ross’ two goals this season - that is not too unrealistic a target given our current position.
Admittedly, recent performances haven’t been as emphatic as many had hoped, and as such, Sunderland sit fourth in the League, albeit with enough games in hand to mount a challenge for automatic promotion spots.
However, after a busy January window, Ross now has additional reinforcements ready to renew the club’s bid to emerge victorious come season’s end.
It is said that the road to success is always under construction, and should Ross succeed in his current campaign attention will then turn to future endeavors - it’s the cycle of progress and the pursuit of success.
Right now, though, fans would do well to cast their mind back to where we stood on May 25th, when Jack Ross was appointed Sunderland manager. Tentatively embarking upon a journey into the unknown we stood by hoping for the best.
We’ve come a long way so far, and a long way yet to go.