Having been unveiled last Thursday, Jack Ross now has his first full week at work as new SAFC boss and he is aware of the task ahead of him. “I am interested in management as a whole, not just in football, but people in general and leadership,” said Ross. “It had always fascinated me, how leaders get the best out of people. When you get a reaction from players, there is a buzz and a benefit from that. If I can get individuals playing better, it should make the team better. You also have that potential to take you to the next level or a model where it benefits the club further down the line in terms of selling them. It is win-win if you get it right. It sounds easy, doesn’t it!”
On how the move came about: “It was a quick turnaround between initial contact and then the agreement, but that was testament to the sales pitch by Charlie and Stewart and listening to the vision they have for the club,” added Ross. “And, equally, my desire to be here. I keep mentioning the job I was in and the hardest part was leaving a job I love so much. I got home late Tuesday night, but was trying to stay off my phone on holiday as much I could which was difficult. But I had a long flight home, which gave me the chance to make notes and think of stuff, too. It’s about knowing the squad and familiarising myself with as much of the club as possible, but you don’t do that until you are in place. I need to find out as much as I can about things, so I’m looking forward to learning so much about it in the next few weeks.”
On the restructuring of the squad: “The in-depth discussions haven’t yet been had. We understand as a club that we have assets because there are good players here. They’ve had a couple of difficult seasons but there are still good individual players who will naturally be of interest to other clubs. Then those players have to assess if that’s better for them moving forward than being part of this progression at Sunderland. Those questions will be answered over the coming days. Once the holes in the squad become clear, the process of bringing players in to fill the holes will become clearer as well. I’ve got a lot of work to do on that in a short period of time but there’s still enough time for us to hopefully get that right. Jack Rodwell just falls into the same bracket as everything else. He’s part of the assessment of the squad and what we can have within it and what’s the right mix for us. It’s a question of who wants to be here and who wants to be in this league. We need to have players who are desperate to play for this club, and maybe not desperate to play in this league necessarily, but who understand the challenge of what lies ahead to get us promoted. I haven’t really differentiated between different problems at this stage and different players, they all fall under the same bracket. Day one of pre-season is not all that far away so we’ve got a lot to do in a short period of time and it really starts now and I’m looking forward to it. I feel I haven’t started doing the job properly yet.”
In other news, John O’Shea is set to leave for Reading on a free transfer. The Irishman has been given a one-year deal with an option to coach when it expires. O’Shea captained Ireland for the last time over the weekend, in their 2-1 friendly victory over USA amidst much fanfare.
In other news, Rennes President Olivier Létang has provided an update on the Wahbi Khazri transfer saga. “Today, the ball is in hands of Wahbi," he said. “He has an offer from the club, which for Rennes, is a very good offer. We are in competition with other clubs who are in a better financial position, but we cannot play around with our structure. And we need to know quickly if the player wants to be part of the project. For us it would be a professional mistake to only look at Wahbi Khazri."
Meanwhile it's been announced that we've parted company with coaching pair Robbie Stockdale and Adrian Tucker. Stockdale has been at the club for six years, including a couple of stints as caretaker manager. Tucker has two years under his belt as goalkeeping coach. It's a move that won't surprise many with the arrival of Jack Ross who will be bringing in his own team working alongside him. A club statement said: "Sunderland AFC has confirmed the departures of first-team coach Robbie Stockdale and goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker. The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Robbie and Adrian for their hard work and professionalism throughout their time at the Stadium of Light. We wish them both every success for the future."