Home Comforts For Ross...

New SAFC gaffer Jack Ross reckons we need to become a force to be reckoned with at home again. On the back of our unprecedented run of shit results at the SoL Ross likened it to his own time at St Mirren where there also suffered from an inability to win in front of their own fans: “I know it’s very easy for a manager to come in and make promises, as people have heard it all before particularly with the high turnover of managers there are these days”, said Ross. “But I do genuinely encourage my players to play, and I think if you speak to anyone who has worked under me they will tell you there’s no fear about how they go about their business. Mistakes will happen – I’ll make them and the players will make them – but it’s about how you react to them and how you learn from them. If we’re going to get over that element [of fear at home], and it was very similar when I took over at St Mirren because we had a horrendous home record, we can become a real force at the Stadium of Light. If we can get it right, what a powerful place it will be to play.”

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald reckons that the opportunity to own SAFC was just far too good to turn down. He also admits he'll be slightly conflicted if we were to meet boyhood club Oxford at a crucial point in the season: “It’s a phenomenal club,” he said. “When you actually see it and appreciate what you have here. For the price and given the stature of the club, it was a very difficult deal to say no to. I am sat here looking out at a near 50,000-capacity stadium. We also have a state-of-the-art academy that’s up there with the best in the country. The cost of buying Oxford and the stadium – and then doing what needs doing to it. I have probably got Sunderland for a similar amount. Anything I did always had to make financial sense. This does. At Oxford, it didn’t always. I would have wanted the ground and the club and I could never get the two at the same time. But owning Sunderland and being up against Oxford is going to be very different, that’s for sure. I just hope the two teams do not play each other when it matters. That will be very tough.”

In other news Charlie Methven believes that he and Stewart Donald can turn Sunderland’s fortunes around and bring the good times back to the club. He also praised the work of former chairman Sir Bob Murray: “I think Ellis has been pouring money into this place for some time but the foundations have not been right, I think Ellis would say he doesn’t know a great deal about football administration, I’d like to think Stewart and I know a great deal more. The infrastructure is there, the fanbase is there, the academy is strong. These are things which cost a vast amount to put in place, the job that Sir Bob Murray did - and I’ve spoken to him a lot during this process - he did the hard bit. Our part is being professional, clear, and executing a plan. We think we can turn it round reasonably quickly. We’re in a decent position to get it to a blank sheet of paper, which I think has been hard in the last year or two with all the baggage that has been carried. Some baggage is still there but it is another year down the track.”

Speaking exclusively to ALS Charlie praised Sunderland’s youth academy and insists that they need to be brutal and ruthless in order to build any success in the next few years: “One thing that’s been noticeable is that there’s been no budget to poach”, Explained Methvan – “I use that word snidely - there’s been no budget to bring in other young players from other parts of the country or even locally at a slightly later age. When you’re a Category One academy, I’m afraid you have to be brutal. You have to use your Category One status to go to see young players who are going places and tell them that your future is going to be brighter with you. This is the place that turned out the England captain, England’s number one goalkeeper, that’s where you want to be right? You don’t to be at a Category Two or Three academy … you want to be at number one. You want to be the next England captain. So, we’re going to be ferocious, brutal, and tough for Sunderland, because we believe that it’s worth fighting for. And you’ve got to fight! This isn’t going to be a soft touch. Sometimes people will find Stewart and me abrasive, I can’t say otherwise, that is going to happen, but we’re going be abrasive on behalf of Sunderland Association Football Club. And the people who are going to feel the force of that abrasion, 98 per cent of the time it will be agents, other clubs, people taking the piss. Occasionally we’ll get it wrong and it’ll be someone inside the club, but we’ll find them afterwards and make up, it’ll be fine.”