Jack Ross has backed Luke O’Nien to bounce back after the 23-year-old was sacrificed at half-time on Saturday.
O’Nien was thrown straight into the starting line-up to face Charlton Athletic, despite not being able to play with his new team-mates during the pre-season programme.
Ross replaced O’Nien with Jerome Sinclair as he moved to a 3-5-2 system that got Sunderland back into the game and helped to eventually seal the three points.
The Black Cats boss said that O’Nien has great potential, however, and expects him to go on and enjoy a successful season.
He said: “It was a decision to change the system to get Jerome on the pitch. It was hard to throw Luke in today in terms of the way we play because its different to what we have been used to.
“He has only just come to the club, he is getting to know players names and adjusting to training. He was delighted we won the game. He is young lad who was brought here for partly his potential as well. He will play an important part of this season as well.”
Ross was thrilled to see his players begin the season with a win, celebrating wildly with his backroom staff as Lynden Gooch stooped at the back post to head home a memorable winner.
The Scot admitted it was one of the most ‘incredible’ moments in his managerial career so far and wants his team continue to build a rapport with the home support.
Ross said: “All the time in football your highlights always shift because the most recent becomes the most enjoyable. I
“In management I have had quite a lot of good times in the last couple of years, but for noise, intensity after those goals it was incredible.
“You don’t get that in many football stadiums, that level of passion and reaction to scoring goals, it was fantastic to be part of it and makes you want more of it.
“It will never determine your season but for us, for what the club has been through, what the fans have had to endure and experienced, it almost felt cleansing if you like,” he added.
“I think they came, stuck with us massively, they saw a team that was passionate about playing. There were mistakes, of course they did, but it was young side who will experience things together on and off the pitch was really powerful, that can get a stronger bond.”
Ross hailed his young players after five academy products played their part in the 2-1 win.
The Black Cats boss believes that is key to keeping the fans behind the team and also said their ‘energy and intensity’ could keep the feel good factor going.
“I felt like the fans have bought into the young players from the off,” he said.
“I had heard interesting things, from players and staff, about why we have not done well here in recent years. I had synergy with that at my recent club, the advantage I had here was that it was a clean start as oppose to having it mid-season.
“I was always conscious of that and I was saying if we can get a team on the pitch that will have the energy and intensity then I thought we would get the fans’ support. We have to keep that intensity going and the bond.”
Ross spent his Sunday with family before gearing up for the final days of the summer transfer window and a trip to Luton Town next Saturday.
He said: ““My wife and kids have moved down here, plus my mam and dad have come down as well. So I’ll have a bite to eat, take it easy with the kids.
“Have a nice Sunday and then my preparation starts immediately for the next game. I will enjoy it for a couple of hours before my attention turns to that next one.”
Sunderland’s next opponents Luton fell to a 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth on the opening day.