Q: After yesterday’s performance, do you think Jack Ross is the right man to take Sunderland forward? Why?
If I were Stewart Donald, I’d have sacked Ross on Saturday night.
For the team with the biggest budget and transfer spend in the division by a mile to have to rely on a soft last minute penalty to salvage yet another 1-1 draw against a club that was all but dead a fortnight ago is ludicrous.
The fact it was not even that much of a surprise is damning.
Time and time again Ross has failed to pick a team and tactics that make the individual talent of our players into an effective attacking force.
Time and time again we’ve reverted to ugly and blunt long ball tactics, bashing the ball over our midfielders’ heads to a 5’10 striker who can’t be expected to do a thing with the service.
Time and time again we’ve failed to keep a settled back four and midfield and build the partnerships all good teams rely upon.
That performance was yet another vintage Ross’s Sunderland game, and one we’ve seen about thirty times before.
Last season we let results, governed significantly by luck and not performances, deceive us into thinking that some semblance of progress was being made. We cannot afford to let this happen again.
I didn’t see a single person defending Ross after that result, and it’s clear the vast majority of fans are simply sick of the same old failings being seen week in week out.
The only argument in favour of keeping him in place seems to be that no one knows of a replacement. Who two seasons ago would have suggested we should have replaced Coleman with a manager from the Scottish Championship with absolutely no experience of English football?
If I were part of the new ownership, I’d replace the manager, the head of recruitment, and the man negotiating deals. None of these have proved good enough at all.
As I walked out of the ground on Saturday after the game I thought the game was up for Jack Ross at Sunderland. The atmosphere in the away end was toxic by the end of the game, and the way he walked straight down the tunnel without as much as a glance to the 4,000 Sunderland fans looked like the actions of a man who knew his time was up.
However, Saturday night and then Sunday have been and gone, and Stewart Donald has decided now is not the time to pull the trigger. And, despite my initial reaction after the match, I agree with his hesitation.
We’re in the middle of a takeover, and until that is completed we don’t even know which calibre of manager we could attract, someone who seems like an unrealistic option now could be within reach if promised - for argument's sake - £10 million to spend in January, and £50 million in the Summer.
Furthermore, despite the poor performances and lack of playing style even 14 months into his reign, we aren’t that far off the top two - and in a much weaker division than last season that doesn’t look like changing. At worst, Jack Ross is doing the job you would ask a caretaker boss to do, so why sack him until someone is available who is a significant upgrade?
Having said all that, just because I wouldn’t sack him just yet doesn’t mean I think he’s the right man for the job in the medium, to long term. And if I was one of the ‘Dell-Boys’ I’d make convincing a quality manager to join the ‘Sunderland Project’s my first priority.
I think I’m split between both Phil and Jack’s points on this one, but ultimately the issue goes beyond Jack Ross, in my opinion.
The big question issue facing Stewart Donald and the Sunderland hierarchy is first of all, when will the takeover be completed? And once it is, do the new owners have staff in mind already? Furthermore, who else could come in and take the club forward at this moment in time?
Sunderland are in an odd situation, in my opinion. The club have invested some faith in Ross as a long-term project, but is that what we need right now? Could the argument be made that Sunderland simply need someone capable of getting us out of League One before looking to bring in someone else that can take us to the next level?
There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of managerial loyalty in football nowadays; as such, do we perhaps need to invest in backroom staff who are in it for the long-haul over the day-to-day coaching staff?
Bringing in a modern, forward-thinking Director of Football would solve a lot of our issues. Tony Coton hasn’t covered himself in glory with his acquisitions, Richard Hill has been thrown into the deep end and struggled, and Jack Ross has admitted he lacks a thorough knowledge of English players at this level.
Basically, we need someone capable of pulling all our departments together in one direction. Someone capable of helping the manager identify and implement a style of play, someone capable of earmarking the type of player we need moving forward, someone capable of green-lighting signings and sales to help the club progress.
Don’t get me wrong, Jack Ross should be doing a better job with the tools at his disposal; however, getting rid of him is potentially just another short-term solution to a big picture issue.
Sunderland need to look beyond this. Let’s say we do bring in another bright manager who takes us up: will he be here for years to come, or will he move onto another club higher up the food chain with more money going into his bank account?
Ross needs to do better, but we need to plan for the future, it’s about acquisitions rather than expenditures.