Sunderland manager Jack Ross facing arguably the biggest test of his managerial career

In isolation, a point away at a promotion rival would normally be classed as a good result.

Sunday, 11th August 2019, 5:23 pm
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

The problem facing Sunderland and Jack Ross is that 1-1 draws have become an all-too familiar pattern and that currently this team is showing no signs it is capable of winning promotion this year.

Since the Checkatrade Trophy penalty shoot-out defeat Sunderland have only managed four wins from 14 fixtures. That pattern is a growing concern.

Early days this time round, yes. But the pressure is there. A constant. Sunderland must win promotion this year or risk becoming a League One side for years to come.

Sunderland, under Ross, have now drawn 21 league games. 19 last year, a key factor behind the failure to win automatic promotion. And two so far this season, just two games in.

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Sunderland showed character and resilience to come back from a horror-show of a first half against Ipswich to salvage something from the game.

Yet it just highlighted again that either the system and personnel were not set up correctly in the first place or that worrying individual performances caused it to fail. Either way, twice now Sunderland have had to come from behind to salvage something.

Ross is under pressure. No doubt. And no doubt he avoided any sort of social media after the game. Twitter comments and Facebook posts may not represent the majority of the fanbase but a number, nonetheless, have seen enough.

And to think Sunderland remain unbeaten. It highlights the pressure and that patience is thin this season. Any novelty factor of last season has gone. It has to be promotion this season. And Sunderland have the squad at their disposal to achieve it.

Some fans will point to concerns over whether Ross knows his best side or system and the worrying lack of depth at left-back and lack of cutting edge up front, just three attempts at goal and only one on target. Another soft goal conceded. Not good enough.

The league table doesn't usually settle down for 10 games or so and I hope Ross is given time to prove he can turn Sunderland into a promotion-winning side this season.

But he will be fully aware of the pressure on him and the need to get it right sooner rather than later. Those draws need to be turned into wins because if they don't then it will only end one way. The stakes are high.

Ross will and should take heart from the fact that there was a marked improvement second half after his changes. He was bold enough to accept the original system wasn't working and reverted to four at the back.

And then tweaked to two up front second half with the introduction of Chris Maguire. Both those decisions helped spark a comeback.

This is now arguably the biggest test of Ross' managerial career, with the need to get it right from the off.