Jack Ross reveals Sunderland's key motivating factor ahead of Checkatrade Trophy final against Portsmouth
Jack Ross believes his Sunderland squad has gone a long way to rebuilding the relationship with supporters following successive relegations - and he wants to reward them at Wembley.
Sunderland will be backed by 40,000 supporters on Sunday afternoon when they take on Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy final.
Sunderland’s first team is in the competition following their demotion to the third tier but Ross believes his squad is well down the road to repairing the damage of the past.
Ross said: “I would hope that people believe that relationship has gone a long way to being rebuilt. The identity of the team has become more in line with the supporters.
“We reach the final with that relationship with the fans being rebuilt to a degree.
“You carry that responsibility all the time, when you go to a final with that many numbers you want to make sure when the full-time whistle blows they are not the ones in the empty seats, you want to ensure that they enjoy the whole occasion by winning.
“There are so many motivating factors for us to win the trophy on Sunday and having that amount of fans with us is one of them.
“The responsibility to bring success is always there, I grew to understand that quite quickly. You only understand the magnitude of it once you are in the job.
“This competition has allowed us to payback the supporters for their loyalty and commitment. There were a lot of unknowns at the start but they have stuck with us throughout and Sunday is for them, the occasion first and foremost and then if we can give them a win even better.”
Asked whether Ross would be celebrating with cheesy chips on Wembley Way if the Black Cats win, he joked: “I think I need to try a ham and pease pudding sandwich first - not sure if you can get them down in London!”