After yesterday night’s one goal victory away to Sheffield United, Jack Ross noted that:
I don’t want to go too much into the weekend and some of the things that were said in the aftermath of it, but it has been a tough couple of days for the players and staff...
...The drive and determination I have put into this job since Day One would stack up against anyone and I will continue to put that in, whatever happens and for however long as I do it.
I believe I am a good football manager and I believe that my record and my stats stand up to scrutiny, and we have come away from home and won at a Premier League club tonight.
It’s clear to see that Ross considers this victory to be a very important one, and after a tricky month in terms of results, the Sunderland boss will be keen to utilise the momentum this win generates in order to get Sunderland moving in the right direction.
Some might point to the fact that Sheffield United made ten changes to their side last night from the one that defeated Everton as Goodison Park this past weekend, but then again Jack Ross made eight changes of his own in the wake Sunderland’s poor showing at Bolton.
The Sheffield side were by no means a poor one as Phil Jagielka, Lys Mousset, Richard Stearman, Muhamad Besic, and Callum Robinson, but to name a few, have all been successful at levels higher than League One.
Ross and his team should emerge from this game with a newfound sense of belief - that they are good enough to keep winning, no matter the opposition.
Fans in attendance noted that Sunderland looked pretty comfortable throughout the affair, though Sheffield did create a couple of decent chances. There was intensity and purpose in attack, an effective high press when out of possession, and our defence looked solid.
The inclusions of Lee Burge, Joel Lynch, and Laurens De Bock were all noted to be positives, but the omission of a couple of high-profile names might well given Ross some food for thought, too.
Aiden McGeady was rested due to injury and Grant Leadbitter was an unused substitute. Both players have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, and suggestions have been made from fans that perhaps Sunderland could do with starting players that bring high energy and balance to the team.
That’s not to say these players aren’t needed, but rather that perhaps they could be better deployed when Sunderland need to slow games down or approach a team from a different perspective.
Ross gambled on giving Power and McGeouch a chance to prove their worth last night - they could well start this weekend’s match at home to MK Dons.
Without going into the finer intricacies of our tactical approach, Sunderland looked like a balanced team last night and that could be vital in order to instil some belief in the side.
It could be argued that Sunderland were in a similar position when they thrashed Burnley only to then capitulate away to Peterborough the following weekend, but both team and fans alike cannot afford to think so negatively.
Instead, we must all take this result for what it is: an opportunity to go into this weekend’s game against MK Dons with confidence, belief, and a side that looks to have found some much-needed balance.
It’s now over to Ross and the team to keep delivering the goods. The gaffer rolled the dice last night and those he provided with an opportunity to impress did just that. I’m hopeful that this could well prove to be a cathartic moment for Ross who might now look at the team as the balanced sum of its parts.