Jack Ross on his Stadium of Light change he hopes will boost Sunderland this season

A sign of loftier ambitions?

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 6:55 am
Jack Ross at the Stadium of Light.

Simon Grayson’s decision to shorten and narrow the Stadium of Light pitch has been reversed by Jack Ross.

The Black Cats boss may have questioned the logic of his decision in the opening moments of the 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic, his team carved open and his new-look defence struggling to contain the vibrant counter-attacking of Lee Bowyer’s side.

Charlton Athletic's George Lapslie (right) and Sunderland's Bali Mumba during the Sky Bet League One match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 4, 2018. See PA story SOCCER Sunderland. Photo credit should read: Graham Stuart/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In the second half, however, a slight reshuffle saw space open up for the hosts and they made their opponents suffer.

The winner may have come in the dying moments but it was a consequence of sustained pressure, Charlton noticeably leggy as they struggled to get hold of the ball.

For Ross, it is a sign of how he wants his team to play and a calculated decision to try and make the most of the individual talent in his squad, particuarly in the forward areas where Lynden Gooch is impressing and Aiden McGeady should thrive when fit.

He will hope to reap the dividends in the coming weeks, particularly now the players will be able to adjust to the change.

“When I took the job I was told that the pitch had been narrowed and shortened, I made quite a quick decision on it,” he said.

“It was more for the groundsman really, he needed to know! I just thought that in this league this season, I expect us to be on the front foot in games.

“My teams have always played with good width one way or another, so that makes it advantageous for us.

“I was kicking myself though because in amongst everything that’s been going on, I forgot to tell the players. In the meeting on the Monday after the game I told them and a couple of said “I thought that!”

“In my first job at Alloa I narrowed it, because we were a small team in the big league. But in this league I want that width and length.”

The Black Cats take on Sheffield Wednesday in the first round of the Carabao Cup on Thursday, before Scunthorpe United visit on Sunday.