Q: What do you make of Jack Ross’s recent spikiness when speaking in the media? Is this a man feeling the pressure, or is he out to prove his doubters wrong?
Phil West says...
Personally, I like the fact that Jack Ross is showing a bit of edge. You can interpret it two ways: as either the words of a man who is possibly planning to resign and is determined to make himself heard before he departs (highly unlikely at this moment, in my opinion), or as an attempt to light a fire under the players, and perhaps himself.
Reserved and quiet by nature, perhaps Ross is revealing a well-camouflaged competitive side to his character that we hadn’t previously seen.
Ross’s ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ comment was perhaps misguided, and some would doubtless label it ill-advised, but I can see both sides of the argument.
When Sunderland were a Premier League club, the demands on managers were never sky-high. From 2013 to 2017, we always settled for survival and a place at the top table and anything more was a bonus. Circa 2019, however, the expectations have changed.
The demand has been to get out of League One as quickly as possible, and the fact that Ross failed to deliver that last season has led to increased pressure on him this season, and so he will be aware that fan patience is in far shorter supply this time around.
It is absolutely right that the fans expect a certain level of performance and result, but it is also fair that the manager is given the autonomy to manage as he sees fit and that he can express opinions, good, bad, or indifferent.
I believe that Ross is of the opinion that regardless of what system he plays, or the players he selects, there will never be a consensus that he has chosen correctly. He is correct, but that should not trouble him. I simply want him to pick the best eleven and the best system that HE believes will do the job, and to do it with conviction.
To be frank, I believe that Ross has simply reached his limit and has felt the need to get things off his chest. Much of the criticism (‘worst manager in our history’, ‘useless Scottish this and that’) has been completely over the top and unwarranted.
The man is trying his very best to deliver what we, the fans, crave.
We can question the man’s tactical approach and managerial capabilities without resorting to insults, and this, I suspect, is what is playing on his mind right now. He’s not an enemy. He’s here to try and manage us to promotion, and maybe a more confrontational approach might well have a positive impact.
Neil Graney says...
Personally, I think some of the criticism of Jack Ross since the start of the season has been knee-jerk. Oxford have started well (beat Peterborough twice) and our away draw at Ipswich is a creditable result, given their squad, and how poor we were in the first half.
The performances so far are an issue - I’d give credit to our manager for changing his formation so quickly, even if he won’t admit it didn’t work publicly.
Rarely do teams start extremely well and stay at the top all season (see Luton last season). I’d predict that Sunderland will be top two come end of October and some supporters will look silly - though I’ll hold my hands up if we aren’t.
I was Accy on Tuesday and the team looked much more dangerous and comfortable with four at the back. I think our manager is on the offensive, and hopefully he will use the apparent discontent in the fan base to drive the players on.
‘Pressure is a privilege’, said Billie Jean King. I hope he is feeling the pressure, and it should drive him on to succeed. I don’t think Sam Allardyce and David Moyes felt pressure as they didn’t care too much, whereas Ross evidently does.
Sam Blakey says...
Listening to Jack Ross get a little angry in reaction to a question from the media was, in my opinion, refreshing. If for example, Roy Keane had reacted badly in a media interview no one would batter an eyelid - he’d probably be praised for doing so.
It’s no secret that Ross’s position has been under scrutiny, particularly in the past few weeks but, after Tuesday nights result and in particular performance, credit should be given to him.
He wasn’t stubborn and changed from his seemingly preferred three at the back to a flat four and it looked to have done the job well against Accrington. His statement which has raised a few eyebrows was the ‘damned if you do damned if you don’t’ response to a question about different systems, and in my opinion he was fair to say so.
Ross has always been criticised for not changing things when it is obvious that a change is needed, so now that he is trying different things should be seen as a positive, so long as he remains open to change back.
I’ve always liked how Ross seems to always remain calm and collected, however seeing him give an answer that raised some question is in my opinion good to see - shows he is passionate and cares.
As long as he is not having a dig at the fans then I say - long may it continue!