Thinking Man’s Boss

Jack Ross is a very philosophical man and now he’s almost got a full strength and decent sized squad at his disposal he recounted the time, not so long ago, when he only had ten players turn up for the first day of training. “Things get forgotten very quickly, not just in football but in life,” he said. “It’s only really when you take a step back that you think where we were not so long ago. I have to remind myself of that, genuinely. Early in my tenure I sat in my office on a few occasions and thought, this is a heck of a job in terms of turning this round and how we ‘piece a squad together’. I was asking myself, ‘who is coming back?’ I honestly had no idea who was going to walk though the door. First day of pre-season I think we only had ten or so. You forget that. If I take myself to being in the barn at the training ground on the first day and doing the testing, we had two groups of five or something like that. How quickly we’ve got to this stage is encouraging. And it is not about dampening expectations, I’ve said often enough that we should have that and that I welcome it. That’s why I’m here. But you have to keep things in balance. We’ll have got some things wrong, that’ll happen and we’ll see that in the fullness of time, we’ll continue to get some things wrong in the future. But it’s encouraging that we’ve got a lot under real duress in terms of times and circumstance. It wasn’t smooth, it was frantic at times. I’m sure Stewart [Donald] would say that it was a lot more challenging than even he imagined. You think ‘clean slate, we go again’. and it’s nice and easy smooth. There’ve been a lot of bumps and I’m sure there will be along the way.”

Ross also gave an interesting insight into the Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong saga. “I used to work with the PFA and I’ve done quite a bit of work for FIFPRO [the global players’ union],” said Ross. “I’ve seen some cases where players have been treated appallingly by clubs. There’s probably more procedures put in place to protect the player when the club was wrong, so there has to be that balance between the two. My role has changed because I’m a manager now, but I would never take the stance of saying that all players are wrong all the time. I’m not casting aspersions over the people who have been here in the past and made decisions, but they’ve probably got too many wrong. I’ve got ones wrong in the past, and I’m sure I’ll continue to do that. But you have to get more right than you don’t, and you certainly have to make sure they never develop into something that can have a detrimental effect on the football club. We need to make sure we’ve got a different process in place, and there will be. We’re playing a catch-up a little bit in that respect because it was a new start for everybody, and Tony [Coton] has had to spend so much time on moving players out and finding solutions to particular problems he’s not been able to do what he was intended to do, but that will hopefully start to pick up now.”