Proceed With Caution

Little over an hour after the appointment of Jack Ross, I’ve just finished watching a ten-minute YouTube video of him ‘talking tactics’. Evidently, there is no such thing as mystery in 2018, already we have access to his footballing ideologies at our fingertips and the initial signs are encouraging.

Ross spoke at length about his desire to play purposeful attacking football, whilst retaining a short passing style. Throughout the interview, he came across as assured, intelligent and very much a student of the game.

As things stand, I am embracing this new era at Sunderland and it’s a great feeling to be looking forward to the future with a sense of optimism and excitement, but if history is to teach us anything, it is that optimism is a dangerous thing indeed.

As impressed as I was with Jack Ross’s words on the YouTube video, I also remember waxing lyrical about David Moyes after listening to an hour long two-part interview on the Graham Hunter podcast. I recall saying to my dad after the whole Kone debacle, ‘we’ve got a proper boss here, mind’ after he dispelled all rumours of a transfer in a strong statement of intent. Following an unfortunate 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on the opening day of the season I remember thinking ‘if this is what he can get out of a patched-up side, what can he do with his own players?!’ We all now know that the answer to that question was, ‘not a lot!’

Despite this, I’m not suggesting that I was a fully paid up member of the David Moyes appreciation society but as football fans, although experience should dictate otherwise, we are optimistic by nature. Regardless of our own reservations we rationalise things, because we love our football club, we want it to succeed and we want to believe that every new manager is the man to take us to the ‘next level’, whatever that may be. We also become defensive, every fair criticism may as well be a personal slur directed at your Granny. Everyone who puts down the appointment become ‘pricks’ and fans of the new gaffers’ former club are simply jealous and bitter if they warn of his shortcomings. Naturally, if they praise the appointment then their words are treated as gospel and it reaffirms our own belief system.

With Moyes we reasoned that his style of football was ill suited to Manchester United and Real Sociedad, but Sunderland were in a similar situation to what he inherited at Everton and he had good foundations left behind by Sam Allardyce. Preston fans were sad to see Simon Grayson depart their club last summer and he was deemed a ‘safe pair of hands’ at Championship level. Chris Coleman was sure to succeed, after all the Wales players were gutted to see him leave. I could go back further to Paolo Di Canio, the man who graduated from Coverciano, the same coaching school that produced that likes of Carlo Ancelotti with record marks but was ultimately a failure.

This is in no way meant to talk down Jack Ross and I would encourage every Sunderland fan to give the new boss the warmest Wearside welcome we possibly can. Watch the video of that Barcelona style goal that St Mirren scored last season as many times as you want and read up on his tactical ideas, but ultimately the proof of his managerial ability will be in the performances and results on the pitch.

However, I am pleased that we have taken a chance on a hungry, young manager who has been talked up as a future Celtic and Scotland manager and let’s hope that in a years’ time I am writing another piece on Jack Ross hailing him as the man who brought the good times back to our football club rather than trying to convince myself that Owen Coyle’s appointment on a rolling one-year contract isn’t necessarily a bad thing.