Assessing Sunderland's Celtic swoop and why Jack Ross is keen to rekindle a key partnership

Earlier this month, BT Sport visited Jack Ross to catch up on his time with Sunderland so far.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 8:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 8:45 am
Lewis Morgan looks set to rejoin Jack Ross after a productive spell at St Mirren

Unsurprisingly, the Black Cats boss was also asked for his thoughts on the current Scottish Championship race and what was required to win promotion.

It is something that he has spoken about regularly and there are almost always two key answers.

First is momentum.

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His St Mirren side got used to winning games as they staved off relegation and carried that with him into the following campaign.

That has been his biggest task at Sunderland, stopping the oil tanker and then slowly and surely turning it around.

The second aspect is having a matchwinner.

For him, it was Lewis Morgan.

Ross said there was little between a lot of the teams in that division and a player like Morgan could make all the difference.

He thinks much the same about League One.

The table tells its own story, with five teams harbouring very realistic expectations of two automatic promotion places.

It will be a tense finale and a matchwinner will be key.

Morgan has always been in the thoughts of the Black Cats boss.

He has consistently batted away stories of a swoop, but has never once wavered in his admiration and respect for the 22-year-old.

Morgan and his St Mirren side are an example he has drawn upon when his Sunderland side have not always blown opposition away.

Ross would argue that no successful side ever does that for a full season and that players like Morgan are vital.

Sunderland have not been short of matchwinners this season.

Josh Maja’s finishing has been remarkable (he scored with just over 70% of his shots on target this season), while at different times the output of Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire has been very good.

In recent weeks, however, their form has reflected that of Sunderland.

The play has been a little less fluid, the chances not arriving as freely, the goals coming every week, but in no great quantity.

Sunderland need a spark and so with Celtic flexing their muscles by bringing in Timothy Weah and Oliver Burke, it is little surprise that Ross has rekindled an interest in Morgan.

He is a brilliant ball-striker on his right foot, but is more than decent on his left.

He also has enough pace to stretch a game and in that sense has a slightly different profile to the other options Ross has behind the strikers.

There is also a clear trust between the two that would surely help Morgan make a fast start.

In a tactical master class on The Coaches Voice, Ross was asked to explain how his St Mirren side picked apart then favourites for the title, Dundee United.

Ross talks through how his system was specifically designed to balance risk and reward, exploiting the opponents pressing game.

The key, though, was the quality of Morgan to turn a promising move into a goal.

Ross is as meticulous as a manager can be.

Preparation, tactics, coaching and man-management are all vital parts of what makes a teams successful and he spends an immense amount of time on each one.

Yet he would be the first to insist that football is a game of great variables.

The big question is clearly whether Morgan's obvious quality in the Scottish second tier will translate to League One.

What is for certain is that if anyone is going to coax the best from him, it will be Ross.

They met early in their respective careers and both owe one another a great deal for their subsequent success.

If a move comes off, they will hope that the sequel is as spectacular as the original.