Wise Men Say: Stewart Donald's next move will dictate Sunderland's future for years to come as fans wait for takeover and manager news

So, the Sunderland revolving door spins again.

Friday, 11th October 2019, 8:46 am
Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald.

Farewell Jack Ross, we can chalk your name up against the multitude of managers that have failed to make the grade at what has consistently been described as a “basket case club”.

He leaves not with the burning supporter hatred of David Moyes, nor with the sense of loss with Sam Allardyce but he does get a little more than a shoulder shrug of Simon Grayson or Chris Coleman.

The former St Mirren boss did restore some pride to a fanbase used to being the whipping boys of every other team in the country but, ultimately, he is yet another manager to fall short.

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While Ross’ departure did look inevitable after his side’s meek surrender at Lincoln City, the final decision took everyone by surprise. Assistant manager James Fowler seem to insinuate in his post-match interview on Tuesday that even the players and staff were unaware of chairman Stewart Donald’s decision to pull the trigger until the afternoon.

Supporters were also curious as to the timing of the sacking. Ross’ dismissal was announced within an hour of reports emerged suggesting that the proposed takeover by MSD Partners had collapsed.

While Donald was quick to deny any of these suggestions on Twitter, the search now begins to find yet another manager to take the reins at the Stadium of Light.

It is no secret that supporters were growing tired of Ross’ tenure.

The novelty of snatching a draw at Wycombe Wanderers and being held at home by Fleetwood Town has worn considerably thin and the performances at both Bolton Wanderers and Lincoln proved to be the final straw for a large contingent of the fanbase.

The team, despite being packed with talent capable of mounting a promotion challenge, looked out of ideas, relying heavily on individual moments of brilliance to win matches.

For all the promise Ross exhibited in the early months, since losing Josh Maja in January he has been unable to find a consistent winning formula.

While Ross must shoulder the blame for lacklustre performances and tactical missteps, the Scotsman has had to contend with a number of issues rarely faced by a League One manager before.

From the bizarre contract situations of Papy Djilobodji and Lamine Kone, and the sale of his top goalscorer in the middle of the season to the owners publicly setting the target of a 100-point season less than 24 hours after a play-off final defeat, he has handled it with dignified grace.

Ross will leave with his reputation intact and will most likely go on to have success elsewhere, however now all eyes will be on what happens next.

The pressure is on Donald to secure the right manager to get Sunderland promoted, failure to do so - especially if the takeover or increased investment isn’t delivered - then the ire of supporters will be directed squarely at the boardroom.

While they have succeeded in helping to reconnect the fanbase, through appearing on podcasts and fitting some new seats in the stadium, the simple fact remains - if Sunderland are not promoted come May, they have failed their own objective.

Every new managerial appointment on Wearside seems to be even more important than the last but Donald’s next move could dictate the club’s future for years to come. Still, good news about the win over Grimsby.