Pre Darlo Craic

Ahead of tonight’s pre-season game at Darlington, manager Jack Ross has thanked the Quakers for opportunity to kick off his reign against a fellow north-east side: “I’d like to start by saying thank you to Darlington for playing host to our opening pre-season friendly this evening,” said Jack. “Since arriving at Sunderland in June, I have been extremely excited for tonight’s match as it’s another tick in the box on our way to getting prepared for the start of our domestic season. It’s great that we are kicking off our run of pre-season friendlies against a local side like Darlington because it creates a bit of a buzz in the area, so I’d like to thank them for welcoming us and I wish them all the best for their season ahead. Tonight will be my first opportunity to meet the Sunderland fans so hopefully we can put on a good performance and begin our pre-season on the right footing. From the moment I took the job just over a month ago, my staff and I have been taken back by the warm reception we’ve received. I am immensely proud to be the new Sunderland manager, but I know there is a real responsibility that comes with a job like this.”

Tonight will mark the debut of not only the manager but many of his new acquisitions and the gaffer is all too aware of the challenges that lie ahead and that he will have to utilise his full squad: “It is a new chapter in the club’s history and a new one in my career also. I am incredibly excited about the challenges ahead because I have always wanted to progress my career. Timing wise it feels good. To get that chance at a club of Sunderland’s magnitude and potential, given where the club finds itself, means I have a chance to stamp my own mark on things. I have a responsibility to give the club back to the fans. The best way I can do that is by winning games and that will always fall on my shoulders. If we can do that then the reconnection with our fans will build. That said, no one can doubt how passionate our fanbase is. They’ve been with the club through thick and thin and that’s highlighted in the number of season tickets we have already sold for the new season. There has been a lot of work to do in a short space of time and there is still plenty to do, but I am happy with where we are tonight. The position the club finds itself in means there is a huge onus on me to help our young players progress through to become first-team players. I know the club has a good academy but that doesn’t change the fact that the last part of a player’s development is always the most difficult. I have come to Sunderland because I want to give the young players here a chance. So far, I have enjoyed working with them and hopefully I have had an influence on them.”

Jack insists that he’s very happy with his transfer dealings so far and that the new faces are settling in well: “One thing I needed to do was to act quickly in the transfer market, and I think we did that. We brought in four new faces ahead of our trip to Portugal, and we have since strengthened further, so I’ve been pleased with the business we’ve done so far. Of course, there is plenty more work to be done in that area, but I’ve been pleased with how the new lads have settled, they’ve trained well with the group and tonight will be their first opportunity to settle into a 90-minute match scenario with us. Last week we took the players away to Portugal for a six-day training camp. Obviously, the plans to go away there were in place before I took the job, but I was happy with it because it was an opportunity to spend time with the players and staff. It was 24/7 and that was beneficial on the pitch as well as off it. I made the decision to take a number of young lads, so Denver Hume, Bali Mumba, Andrew Nelson and Elliot Embleton travelled. It was important we gave those lads an opportunity because I’ve been there and seen that with younger players at my previous clubs that sometimes there’s things that can fall in your favour due to circumstance and timing. Sometimes it not just down to your ability and character, and I have to say all four of them impressed me immensely. Hopefully they enjoyed the experience and will take a lot from it. Like I mentioned previously, tonight is where our work takes another major step forward. Tonight is all about getting fitness in the legs and getting used to playing a 90-minute match once more. My staff and I have tried to put the foundations in place so the environment surrounding the players is one that is demanding and enjoyable to be in. Hopefully, those foundations will help us turn this ship around.”