Jack Ross eager to tackle big challenge at Sunderland

Jack Ross, unveiled at the Stadium of Light yesterday, is 'excited rather than intimidated' by the task of reviving Sunderland. Picture: Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty
Jack Ross, unveiled at the Stadium of Light yesterday, is 'excited rather than intimidated' by the task of reviving Sunderland. Picture: Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty
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New Sunderland manager Jack Ross is undaunted by the prospect of succeeding where so many more famous names have failed by bringing the good times back to the Stadium of Light.

By Sunderland’s standards Ross – named as their ninth manager in five years last week – is a low-key appointment compared with predecessors such as Roy Keane, Paolo Di Canio, Dick Advocaat and Chris Coleman.

But the 41-year-old, who began his managerial career at Alloa before leading St Mirren to the Ladbrokes Championship title last term, says he is relishing being given the opportunity to lift the club back where he believes it belongs.

Ross said: “The appeal of this club is big, and some of the managers who have been here have had a big profile as both players and managers.

“If I didn’t think I could do it I wouldn’t have taken the job on. I’ve never really lived in fear of a job. It’s more about wanting to do the job to the best of my abilities and this gives me the platform to do that.”

Ross was introduced to the Stadium of Light for the first time yesterday, and he will now set about discussing plans for the new Sky Bet League One season ahead with ambitious new owner Stewart Donald.

The future of big names such as Jack Rodwell and Lee Cattermole is set to be top of Ross’s agenda but he insisted he is ready to listen to all sides and create a squad which mixes both big-game experience and youth.

Ross added: “I think the absolute position will become clear in the coming weeks but none of the jobs I’ve taken has been easy – there have always been challenges and this is another one for me to overcome.

“Bringing a squad of players together is the ultimate challenge for any manager and that is a big part of my job within the next two months.

“The challenge for me is to immerse myself in League One because that is where we are at the moment – there is no point having delusions of grandeur.

“So I have to learn as much as I can about it as quickly as possible. I’m excited rather than intimidated. I’ve always enjoyed the problem-solving side of management.”

Problems do not come much bigger in football than the steady demise of the Black Cats, who are preparing to face opposition such as Fleetwood and Accrington next season.

But there is a mood of cautious optimism following Donald’s bullish takeover, which has effectively cleared the club of debt, and the new owner has made plain the prospect of a budget which will dwarf those of their League One rivals.

Ross believes the club’s fans will be crucial during what he admitted would still be a period of “transition”.

He added: “I think there has to be that reconnection with a fanbase that I don’t need to build – it’s there and it’s remained pretty consistent and true even through difficult periods.

“But their connection with what happens on the pitch has probably lessened over recent seasons. There was a disconnect and if you get that right there is a real momentum and it becomes more powerful.”