Watford open talks with Sunderland target
Watford have wasted no time in dipping into the transfer market following the end of a season which saw the club promoted back to the Premier League after finishing second in the Championship.
The Watford Observer say that Watford are attempting to sign reported Sunderland target Josh Doig from Hibernian.
The 18-year-old was said to be of interest to both Sunderland and Stoke City after earning rave reviews at left-back in the Scottish Premiership but Watford have opened talks with Jack Ross’ side over the Scottish youth international.
The Hornets have agreed to sign former Sunderland loanee Ashley Fletcher from Middlesbrough, also according to the Watford Observer, after he turned down a new contract at the Riverside and was subsequently released by Boro.
The striker will sign on a free transfer, three years after a loan spell at the Stadium of Light that saw him score two goals in 16 games.
Finally, the same newspaper say Watford have made a £1.5m offer for Lewis Ferguson, the son of former Sunderland midfielder Derek Ferguson but that bid was described as derisory by Aberdeen. Ferguson has since handed through a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to the new Premier League outfit.
No regrets taking charge of enormous club - Ross
Jack Ross is set to take charge of Hibernian in the Scottish Cup Final tomorrow, as his side take on St Johnstone at Hampden Park.
The former Sunderland manager is having a stellar season back in Scotland, finishing third in the league, only behind the Old Firm, and is now attempting to end the season with a trophy.
Ahead of the final, Ross told the Glasgow Times that although he has had success at Easter Road, he does not regret taking charge of such an enormous club like Sunderland, despite being sacked:
First of all, it was brilliant, it’s not something I’ve regretted for one moment. I had a lot of good times there. I think I’m a better manager now. I think I’ve hopefully continued to improve after being with an enormous club.
Until you’re in that part of England, you don’t maybe appreciate how big the club is and how much expectation goes along with it.
There’s a lot of different facets to my management and coaching that are defined and have not changed, because I think I’ve always had a consistency of approach, but others I’ve learned from, and hopefully I’ve improved.
That’s the key challenge for me, to continue getting better all the time in what I do, whether I’m on the pitch or how I work as a manager. That whole experience, that whole time I was there, was something that has definitely helped me, hopefully, to continue to improve and bring success to Hibs.
Ross said he questioned his future in football management when he was sacked at Sunderland but was lucky that the Hibs job came along so quickly:
It’s not nice when you’re putting everything into the job and are so focused on delivering success to the club, you become attached to it and build relationships with loads of people around the club. Then you have that taken away. And it’s taken away very quickly in football management.
Whenever you’re sacked, it’s human nature to question your abilities, I think every single person would do that.
The choice is just not to be a football manager again and then you’ll be okay or you put yourself back in the firing line and back yourself to go and do it.
There was a quick turnaround between the two jobs but I was lucky to get this opportunity so quickly.
It’s probably about reminding yourself to enjoy these times because I’m sure there will be a time in the future when I have that same feeling, because naturally it does happen in football management.
He then talked about what learned from Sunderland’s two Wembley defeats during the 2018-19 season and said that although it’s obviously important not to lose, he needs to detach himself emotionally as much as he possibly can:
First of all, it’s not to lose, it’s not nice, not a nice feeling. What did I learn from it? Detaching yourself emotionally as best you can is important.
That becomes a little bit easier with no crowds at the moment. You are talking about just shy of 90,000 in there. It’s an unbelievable arena to play a football match in. Unless you have been there, it is difficult to do it justice, it is a brilliant stadium.
So it is difficult not to get caught up in the emotion of it, but the key aspect of management is remaining as clear headed as you can at all times. That is something I look at now after those occasions, that clarity of thought. You need that at times.
That and the puzzle of how to win games, how you make sure players are influenced by your behaviour, your actions, your communication as well.
When I was a kid being involved in the Scottish Cup final was a dream, but when you become a manager it’s an ambition, it’s something that in years to come I will look back fondly.
I’ve been lucky to do it at Wembley a couple of times, which was something I never thought I would do. The memory of the two games is sore, but the actual experience is something which, in the fullness of time, I will look back on and be proud of.
Doing it at Hampden is special because Hampden is still special to me.
McCoist on Sunderland spell
Rangers legend and former Sunderland striker Ally McCoist sat down with Jamie Carragher this week to talk about his career on the newest episode of the Greatest Game podcast.
During the interview, McCoist says although he was too young when he moved to Roker Park, he would not swap his experience at Sunderland for anything and revealed why an honest conversation with Alan Durban was behind his move to Rangers:
Hindsight is a great thing. The first thing I would say is I was probably too young. But you know something, I wouldn’t have swapped the experience for the world, I really wouldn’t. I went down there just turned 18 and obviously it was the first time I moved away from home.
I was playing in a Sunderland team that was struggling a little bit sadly. One of my roommates was Frank Worthington, Big Frank dear me, there’s a book in itself rooming with Frank Worthington let me tell you. I was rooming with Leighton James and all these guys and it was a brilliant experience, clearly I didn’t score as many goals as I would’ve wanted to.
The team were struggling down the wrong end of the table and I remember Alan Durban come in as manager at the end of the season and he said to me that Rangers had been on the phone and would I be interested in going. I was amazed, I’ll never forget it. He looked at me and said I think you should go and I said ‘why’s that boss’. He said ‘Two things: I think it would be good for your career and secondly I don’t see me being here very much longer.’
And you know something, he was right on both counts. I thought it was very, very honest and kind of him. He looked after me really, really well and he genuinely thought the best thing for my career moving forward would be to go back up to Rangers and I did and clearly it was the best thing I ever did.
After leaving his job as Rangers manager in 2014, he revealed that he had interviews regarding the managerial roles at Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland:
Believe it not I had a couple of interviews. I had an interview at Blackburn, QPR and I had an interview at Sunderland but thankfully I don’t do interviews very well.
You look at what’s happened particularly to Blackburn and to Sunderland, I didn’t get those jobs which is fair enough. You throw your hat in the ring and see how it goes but I didn’t get them and then clearly the opportunities came for me to get back into media and I jumped at it.
You can listen to Jamie Carragher’s interview with Ally McCoist by pressing play on the podcast below: