Q: What do you make of the job done by Jack Ross this season? Some are suggesting he should lose his job, but would you stick by him or move on?
Damian Brown says...
From what I can tell the only real reason anyone can give for continuing to support Ross stems from frustration at a manager merry go round. I haven’t heard a single clear argument as to why he deserves the job beyond “he hasn’t had enough time” and “it’s a long term project”. Well, fine, but does that mean Ross is the best man for the job?
What I know about Ross is that he failed to achieve promotion from League One, and throughout the season I was constantly surprised by his tactical decisions and timing. That isn’t to say he’s a bad manager but relative success in Scotland isn’t enough to balance the scales, and his relative success before he failed to see Sunderland out of League One - which by the way is a point everyone should really try to keep in mind because it’s kind of pertinent to the argument - really doesn’t have any bearing on his future or our fortunes.
Sticking with Ross wouldn’t be the worst thing Sunderland could do, but it certainly wouldn’t be the best thing based simply on it being the default option. Not sacking a manager through sheer stubbornness isn’t in itself a strategy. Refusing to accept you’ve made a mistake isn’t a game plan.
Who would replace him? What remit would they be given? These are an entirely different set of questions that don’t come into the equation when you’re analysing Ross and his term with Sunderland, because that’s called settling and settling isn’t progress. If it takes a hundred managers to get to where we want to be then we should pursue that, surely? Because being seen to be normal and justified in our appointments isn’t a priority. How the footballing world judges us for throwing it all out and starting again isn’t a priority. Achieving promotion is the only priority.
Ross can hold his own in League One with some investment, but he’s not Sunderland AFC’s only route out of this situation. He isn’t the only means to achieve our ends, and that should be something the owners consider if they’ve got someone else in mind or, as will no doubt happen, someone pops up with an idea of how to do it better.
Craig Davies says...
I think with Jack Ross there are as many questions as there are answers.
On the one hand, for the first half of the season he appeared methodised, planned and prepared - a student of the modern game with contemporary approaches to training and man management.
On the other hand, in the second half of the season and certainly in the last third of the season, he didn’t seem as assured in his execution of tactics and formations. In fact, there was a general lack of energetic impetus and the tactics seemed weighed down by caution and fearful apprehension.
At times it was desperate.
He also had two transfer windows that were abject failures considering the size of the budget, which was record breaking for League One. With a number one budget at his disposal it could be argued that fifth place is a dismal fiasco.
So I’m torn.
It’s not about keeping him for consistency’s sake alone, because I don’t want to consistently finish fifth. For me it’s a case of ‘does he deserve it?’ Has he done enough to show us he is the man to lead our next promotion charge?
Personally, I think he has just squeezed enough good faith over the course of this season to cling on to the job via the tips of his fingernails.
Others will disagree and I can’t fault their viewpoint.
Jack Ford says...
For me, Jack Ross’ first season in charge has been one of massive underachievement, and consistent failure to address glaringly obvious problems.
The game on Saturday was a crushing disappointment, but I felt like I had watched that game about 30 times already this season.
I can’t blame him for recruitment as I believe the club is set up in a way that doesn’t give him full power over transfers, but to consistently see a team of small, technically gifted players play long ball football is incredibly frustrating.
All season we’ve failed to get more than a one goal lead against teams, and repeatedly thrown away those leads. With Grigg and Wyke, we’ve two players with around 30 League One goals last season - they’ve scored less than ten between them.
The managers job is to set up a system and plan that creates chances for his team, while limiting chances for the opposition. This season we’ve never managed to consistently get our strikers into the game, and have been cut open like butter by opposition counter attacks again and again, spared only by poor finishing and McLaughlin saves.
He hasn’t had much time in the job, but if anything I think we’ve gotten worse as the season has gone on, and for a man who has told us repeatedly how hard he works and how much analysis he does on opposition, I see very little difference between games. Usually it’s the same line up, same formation, and “pass to McGeady”.
I know there’s mitigating factors, and I know we need more stability, but if I have to watch another season of ugly, ineffective football I really will get sick of League One.
I’d give him another ten games after he has a full pre-season and transfer window, then see where we stand.