Jack Ross on Dylan McGeouch's big early impact and why he'll thrive on Sunderland pressure
As the 25-year-old came to the end of his Hibernian contract earlier this year, conventional wisdom suggested he would either return to the Old Firm or move to the Championship.
The Black Cats pulled off an impressive coup in bringing him to Wearside, the midfielder won over by the superb facilities on offer, a massive fan base and a manager whose philosophy perfectly matches his playing style.
The 6-0 win over St Mirren served notice of his talents.
Sitting as the deepest lying midfielder, McGeouch controlled the tempo of the game superbly and showed an impressive passing range.
Notable, too, were a number of excellent challenges that steadied a defence still finding its feet amid an influx of new faces.
Jack Ross made McGeouch one of his top targets after taking the Sunderland post earlier this summer and has no doubts that he will be able to continue to perform when the pressure rises at the Stadium of Light.
“Dylan is a good player,” Ross said.
“They’re non-comparable at times, Scottish and English football, for a variety of reasons. But what there is up here is good players, good coaches, good teams. You’ve just got to make sure you identify the right ones for your team.
“The great thing was that when Dylan came here there were players in the squad saying, ‘he’s a good player’. And he is.
“He’ll thrive on the way we play. I know him well, his character as well and that was one of the key things for me.
“He’ll take the ball all the time, even with 30,000 at the Stadium of Light. It’ll not phase him because he’s that type, he’ll thrive on it and get better.
“That role he plays allows other players to go and press in the right areas as well.”
McGeouch’s display was one of many positives in the win over Ross’ former side, with fellow summer recruits Jon McLaughlin and Chris Maguire also impressing.
Alim Ozturk and Tom Flanagan combined to secure a clean sheet, while the club’s academy prospects continue to shine.
Ross is under no illusions when it comes to the need to strengthen what is currently a threadbare squad, but he has been greatly encouraged by the response of those he has been working with on a daily basis.
McGeouch’s flying start has been a big part of that.
Ross said: “He [McGeouch] was helped at St Mirren by a lot of unselfish runs from Cattermole and George that enabled him to find those holes and get into possession.
“The rotation of the wide players was really good. That front three at the moment have a licence to interchange and be flexible because of the types of player that they are and they’re thriving on it.
“They’ve understand their defensive roles too so there’s a lot of encouraging things for me, I’m starting to see that message getting across.”
Sunderland’s League One clash with Coventry City has meanwhile been selected for live TV coverage.
The game will now kick off at 12.30pm on Saturday, September 29. Ticket details will be confirmed in due course.