Sunderland boss opens up on adjusting to League One and the challenge of outwitting opposing managers
Jack Ross is loving life at Sunderland and relishing the '˜exciting' challenge of testing himself against the best League One has to offer.
The 42-year-old managed Alloa Athletic and St Mirren in Scotland before landing the job of rebuilding Sunderland this summer.
And Ross is thriving on adjusting to life in League One and coming up against new teams, players and the tactical battle with his opposite number.
Sunderland have enjoyed a positive start, the Black Cats sit fourth in the table with seven points from their opening three games.
Tonight Ross will attempt to outwit Gillingham boss Steve Lovell and maintain the unbeaten start to the campaign.
Ahead of the game at the Priestfield Stadium, Ross, reflecting on how he’s adapted to life in the third tier of English football, said: “I’ve loved it, to be honest.
“It’s a part of the job that I really enjoy.
“I’ve always described football management as problem solving and I’ve always liked that aspect of it, figuring out the puzzle and the solutions.
“For me and the staff, that freshness of the league and the way the games come around, you have to be right at it.
“It’s been exciting actually and I think all my staff who’ve come down from Scotland would say the same.
“Being stimulated like that on a weekly basis is a good thing.
“I’ve probably come slightly away from how I normally operate in the sense that I’ve had to immerse myself so much in what we’re trying to do, even in the games we’ve played to date, I probably couldn’t tell you all that much after about the opposition and how they were on the day.
“My staff have been much better with that because I’ve been so consumed in what we do and getting that right.
“I’m looking forward to that settling down when we get into more of a rhythm because you want to take it in.
“There’s good players that might cause you problems in the future, that you might to look at in the future, all those things.
“At the moment it has been very much just about what we’re doing and you look at the next opposition when they come on the horizon.”
The games are certainly coming round thick and fast, with Gillingham tonight, hot on the heels of the 3-0 demolition of Scunthorpe United at the Stadium of Light on Sunday afternoon.
The Gills are three places below Sunderland in League One, sitting in seventh just outside the play-offs following their first defeat of the campaign at the weekend, beaten 2-1 at Walsall.
Ross is wary of the big threat they pose, with the Scot also fully aware that his Sunderland side are a big fish in League One - and one their rivals will be desperate to beat.
“The interesting thing for me is facing new teams,” added Ross.
“Obviously in Scotland I was used to facing the same teams and a lot of the same players so my knowledge was greater.
“But they play in a system similar to Luton, which we’ve already faced this season, and that helps us to some degree.
“They’re a team that has started the season in a relatively positive fashion, taking Saturday aside.
“We’re aware of the challenges of that and, like every away game for us this season, there’s an added edge to it simply because of the status of this club and the fans we will take to each and every away game.
“That in itself lends itself to an atmosphere and intensity around the match and we’ll have to deal with that on each and every occasion when we go away from home and it’ll be no different on Wednesday evening.”
Unbeaten Sunderland will tonight be backed by a huge away following, with 2,000 fans making the 600-mile midweek round trip.
Saturday’s game at AFC Wimbledon is also sold out.
Ross has heaped praise on the Sunderland fanbase for their passionate support.
“To take in excess of 2,000 supporters on a 600 mile round trip is incredible,” said Ross.
“There’s not many clubs in this country and throughout Europe who will do that.
“I’ve got real gratitude for that. I think it hopefully reflects how they feel about the club just now.
“I think they realise there’s a group of players determined to reward that loyalty.
“It will help us, too, teams will want to take great delight in beating us and so it helps to have plenty of people on your side too,” added the Sunderland manager.