Inside track on why Sunderland could have landed one of the best bosses around in Jack Ross
When Jack Ross was appointed St Mirren boss in October 2016, the Paisley side were rooted to the bottom of the Scottish Championship and on the brink of dropping down to League One, writes Kyle Gunn.
Ross replaced former Black Cats midfielder Alex Rae after he was dismissed after failing to rack up maximum points from the first nine league games of the season.
With a deflated dressing room, the former Saints defender didn’t get off to the best of starts and faced a decision whether to stick or twist.
He and assistant James Fowler decided to twist, shipping out 10 players and bringing in the same number of new faces in a chaotically busy January transfer window.
It could have backfired, but proved to be a massive gamble worth taking. He guided the team to seven wins out of the last nine games to steer the club to safety.
If that was a surprise to The Buddies faithful what was to come in the season which has just ended was simply unthinkable.
Ross guided St Mirren to the Championship title with three games to go and picked up The PFA Scotland Manager of the Year award, beating ex Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, former West Brom boss Stevie Clarke and Hibs gaffer Neil Lennon to the prestigious gong.
That’s enough of the facts because those speak for themselves.
My first press conference as a freelance journalist was Jack’s first as manager and we already knew each other from his previous spell at the club.
I was early and I was getting out of the car and he drove up. We shook hands and shared a joke about a previous cup final that he played in.
I knew from then on that we would have a good working relationship.
There was a major disharmony between the club and the supporters when he came back to the club.
But with an open and attacking style of play, that The Stadium of Light regulars can look forward to seeing, that wasn’t going to last very long.
In fact Ross’ brand of the beautiful game hasn’t gone unnoticed and not just in Paisley.
La Liga champions Barcelona congratulated Saints on Twitter after an outstanding team goal finished off by midfielder Cammy Smith against Dunfermline in January.
He is very hands on and will implement his ideas quickly, and will work closely with the players. He will also want to identify and sign his own players.
But if new chairman Stewart Donald and his consortium give him the backing he needs both in terms of time and financially.
The Black Cats may just have landed themselves one of the best young gaffers about.