“Go Top & Stay There”

Jack Ross has set out his strategy for the season and it’s quite simple! “You just want to go top and stay there.”

Ross continued: “It sounds very simple but winning habits are good ones and we’re getting that at the minute. We just have to continue. The nature of this league is new to me in terms of the number of games and it’ll probably take a bit longer before it settles down completely but it’s nice to put ourselves in that position. Every game for me, when we win it, you get the same feeling of satisfaction. I probably never enjoy the games that much because I’m always looking for perfection. I’ve always been like that. In the Scunthorpe game and against AFC Wimbledon there are always things we can do better – and I can do better as well in terms of my choices and what we do. I’m always pleased for the people at the club – I’m pleased for the players and the supporters. They’re the ones that really do it. My prep’s done during the week with little bits and pieces on a matchday. Supporters help drive us on and the players are the ones that go onto the pitch and have to react. I’m more satisfied for them.”

Meanwhile, George Honeyman has been talking about the possibility of Lee Cattermole and Bryan Oviedo staying at the club beyond this week’s loan deadline, what it’s like to be captain and how you have to fight for the right to play pretty football in League One. “That was Lee at his best, although I don’t think scoring two goals is going to be the norm for him! I think he’s been playing really well recently anyway,” Honeyman said. “The Scunthorpe and Gillingham games, he’s been right at it. He’s had a load of injuries in the last couple of years, but he’s played through a load for the good of the club when it’s been in relegation fights, and it’s probably taken its toll on him. He’s had a year playing last year, and I think we’ll reap the benefit of him having played a season fully fit this year. He’ll be huge for us if he stays, and we all really hope he does. I’m just delighted for him because it’s been a rough couple of years for everybody at the club, but for him especially. You can see how much the fans idolise Lee. He’s had ups and downs, like the whole club, but I don’t think you can ever question his commitment or how much he wants the club to do well. I’m just glad that it all seems to be coming together – I couldn’t be happier for him. They’re [Cattermole and Oviedo] proper professionals. At the end of the day, it’s their job and they’re proud to do it properly. If you look at any of their previous clubs, no matter what the situation, they’ve always given it everything, and that’s exactly what they’ve done here. It’s credit to them, and I’m just happy they’re getting their rewards through winning games. We’ve got a young team so it’s invaluable having lads like that around us. We obviously don’t know what’s going to happen with the loan window shutting at the end of the week, but if you ask anyone in the squad, they’d all say that we’d be absolutely delighted for them to stay. We’ll see what happens, and it’s obviously out of the players’ hands, but we all know how important they’ve been for us so far. I rang Lee when the manager called me in and offered me the captaincy. I accepted it straight away, but he’s going to be backing me up through it all and it’s amazing to have someone of his experience and stature. I also spoke to John O’Shea, who was the previous captain, and they both said that if you get it right, it’s the best role to have. It’s a real honour and a pleasure at the moment. In recent games, we’ve been playing some real free-flowing, pressing, attacking football, and that didn’t really get going on Saturday. There was a little bit in the second half, but sometimes, we’re going to have to find different ways to win. We’re not always going to get our own way and be able to pass teams off the park. That was probably the most pleasing win of the season. It wasn’t our best performance, but to come back from a goal down and win in those kind of circumstances shows what the team is about. Speaking to the lads who have played in League One, they say that it doesn’t come much tougher than the two away games we’ve played this week. So to come away with six points from that stands us in good stead. We want to be a passing team and an attacking team this year, but we’re not always going to get our way for 90 minutes, so to come away with three points there is massive. It stands us in good stead for the rest of the season.”

Back to the gaffer and here’s his plan for Charlie Wyke’s week. The striker is expected to start from the bench against Oxford on Saturday. “All being well he’ll be able to join in training at some point during the week, and Tom Flanagan as well. We’re getting there. Charlie’s done a bit and he’ll join in with the first team group whether it’s towards the middle or the end of the week. We’ll just assess it from there. But he’s desperate to be involved and he’s a fit boy who looks after himself. I would probably more likely push him as not. It would help to have him in because we’ve played well in the opening period of the season and because we’ve played well other teams have squeezed us high up the pitch and I thought Wimbledon were brilliant to have the energy levels to do it. To get out then becomes a little bit more difficult and we need to get better at that. To have someone that allows us to adapt in forward areas will help us. Whether that’s a starter or changing during the game remains to be seen but the good thing is it’s coming [into Sunderland’s play]. That’s encouraging for me and to be five games in - having got through it asking a huge amount of Josh - is great. I thought in the second half he was good because he had a difficult first half at Wimbledon. He looked a bit leggy at times but he produced in the second half for us, which is great for him mentally.”