The Only Way Is Up

Jack Ross reckons that he must achieve promotion this season to be deemed a success at Sunderland. Ross said: “Whether it would be a failure is for other people to judge, but my own view is that what I would view as success is getting out of this league. I’ve always tried to set targets for squads and for myself individually because I think they help drive you on, and throughout pre-season there has not been a single day where I have thought that I need to adjust my expectations. My aim has always been to get this club out of this league at the first time of asking. If I don’t do that, then it will be time to look at the circumstances around it. But right now, for me, it will only be a success if we get promoted. The expectation and the pressure is going to be consistent at this club, regardless of which league it is in. It’s always going to be there because of the size of the club and of the fanbase. It’s a matter of how you use it. It can weigh heavily upon people’s shoulders or it can make you grow, and we are trying to make it the latter. We’ve managed to build that confidence and belief but that is without playing a competitive game, so it is easier to do that when you go into the competitive stuff and it matters more and people become more critical. The challenge to me is to continue building it once the season gets under way. I don’t think I have ever tried to dampen expectations, certainly not here, and I’m happy to say that I will take on the expectations and if I can’t match them then I haven’t done my job properly.”

Ross has also been talking up his new captain, George Honeyman, who he believes has what it takes to succeed. "When I came into the club I was open-minded to the squad in general, to their abilities, to their attributes, to their characters. I tried not to be prejudiced in any way when I came in. So, rather than speak to people and gauge their opinion on players, I did as much homework as I could do myself and then I wanted to see how I found them. What I found in George is a player who reflects very much how I go about training on a daily basis. The intensity in which he trains, his attitude and application in training every single day is brilliant, and that’s a testament to how he’s been brought through the club by Kevin Ball in the academy. Lynden is a bit similar, they’re similar ages and they’ve got a terrific work ethic about them. When you add to that that he (Honeyman) is a good player, he’s an important part of our side this year, he’s a very mature and intelligent young man, and it means an awful lot to him to captain the club, so there’s so many boxes he ticks in that respect. I’m actually lucky that I think I’ve found the captain that ticks all of those - normally you might have to give a little on some of them and they might have strengths in other areas. He’ll grow with the responsibility, and I’m also lucky that I’ve got a squad that’s got a number of players that have fulfilled that role - so Lee (Cattermole) has obviously done it at this club and is close to George, then you’ve got Glenn (Loovens) and Jack (Baldwin) who’ve done the role at previous clubs, Alim (Ozturk) has done it at Hearts as a young player, Jon McLaughlin is experienced, Dylan (McGeouch) had a lot of responsibility at Hibs, so there’s loads that’ll be supportive. I look forward to seeing how he grows with it, and I look forward to him hopefully being a successful Sunderland captain, because I know that’s certainly his aim."