Understated but ambitious, Jack Ross impresses at his Sunderland introduction

Sunderland fans could be forgiven for treating the unveiling of a new manager with a sense of scepticism.

Friday, 1st June 2018, 11:00 am

It has become a wearying process, a new face talking of the club’s potential and facilities with a sense of awe, only to see their ebullience eroded over the following months.

Simon Grayson spoke firmly of the players he felt he could bring in and his Football League experience.

New Sunderland manager Jack Ross at his first press conference at The Academy of Light.

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Chris Coleman arrived with the club at an ever lower ebb, but as he breezed through his first Academy of Light address, those present felt the lights had been turned back on at an ailing club.

In the end, neither were able to succeed under Ellis Short’s ownership and it was the same with many more high-profile figures before them.

With Ross, however, the situation felt different.

First and foremost, he has good reason to believe that he is the first manager in quite some time to take the job on with something approaching a clean slate.

There was no disguising his self-belief and while Stewart Donald has been careful not to put too much pressure on the man whose vision completely changed the course of his managerial search, Ross made clear that he wants to seal promotion next season.

The former St Mirren boss backs himself and was not daunted by questions on budgets or problem players.

Nevertheless, he was understated and made no grand promises for his time at the club.

Weighing up the established figures that had gone before him, Ross was keen to stress that there are no guarantees in football, takeover or otherwise.

On his philosophy, he underlined that he would always try to produce teams that play with a purpose and tempo, but stressed that the art of management was often in adapting.

On transfers, he admitted that he would look north of the border but hinted that he would look to bring in players with a successful League One history.

Coping with that league, he said, is the most crucial thing for the club and everything else can only follow once they have got to grips with that challenge.

He will play young talent and put his total trust in them but added that consistency is the hardest thing to achieve, and said that he would only truly know the potential at his disposal once he had worked with the individuals day in, day out.

There could be no delusions of grandeur, a theme that underpinned his remarks.

Ross will be in complete control of the footballing side of the club and said that was something he ‘expected’.

An authoritative figure, he will not take kindly to interference, a young manager in one sense and old school in another.

Ultimately, he believes he will succeed but at this early stage, there are so many unknowns.

The size of his budget, the situation with much of the current squad. Even pre-season has not been finalised.

This was less about expectation management and more about a healthy realism.

These are the most exciting times on Wearside for a number of years but only results on the pitch will define Ross.

As such it was a low-key, measured beginning, and all the better for it.

In his own words, it is a big challenge but far from an impossible one.