Jack Ross is looking forward to bringing in a centre half on Monday who can add a bit more power to the back line, but feels that the return of Charlie Wyke has already added some steel up front. "By and large we've had a front four who are technically good players but not that big in stature, they've had to score some really good goals," Ross said. "Now we have a different facet to our attacking play. The last couple of games we've also put a lot of crosses into the box, so we can encourage that and try to take advantage of that. Now we know we have the players to attack that, so it can change the dynamics of our game a little bit. For us, the team doesn't necessarily set up any differently. What Josh is asked to do is the same really to what Chris [Maguire] is asked to do when he players there. It's just that you've got different types of player playing there, so if you've got Josh playing there he's naturally going to link up more. If you've got George [Honeyman] there he'll naturally drop in more, Chris will naturally come to the ball more. The system and the structure stays the same it is just tweaked by the player in there. Charlie being back, it's not just Josh, just in general, is huge for us. On a pitch like Tuesday you see what a difference he makes. Not just his physicality either, he is just a good player, you don't score as many goals as he has without that. It's a big boost. If we were signing him in January, people would say 'great signing'."
Lynden Gooch is also excited to have Charlie Wyke on board: "He was brilliant at Blackpool," Gooch said. "He relieved so much pressure on us. He was a big outlet, won almost everything in the air and held the ball up for us, which got us up the pitch and allowed us to create opportunities. He didn't get his goal but he was brilliant. He is like a new signing. He helped us get up the pitch and was a big outlet at set pieces as well.”
Back to the gaffer and Ross touched on the last time we faced Charlton, which, was of course the first game of this season: “It was a massive moment,” said Ross. “Ultimately, it earned us three points rather than one, and I suppose if it’s two points separating us from achieving success or not at the end of the season, then it becomes even more vital. But away from that, the importance of the goal in terms of the bigger picture at the club was even more important. We weren’t brilliant on the day, although I thought we got better in the second half and showed really good character, but it just felt appropriate when the winning goal went in. We speak a lot about the documentary, but if that game was chosen and hand-picked by the production team, then I’m sure they would have written it that way. It wasn’t just an important moment in my tenure, it was important in terms of the club in general. I’m sure in years to come, people will look back at certain games and certain goals and believe they were significant moments in the club’s history. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I genuinely think it was a moment like that. The emotion in the stadium was incredible that day, and it was probably a bit of cleansing for a lot of people. At the time, I didn’t try to underplay the significance of it because I knew how important it was, and six months down the line, it still feels just as important.”
Ross also summarised our performances over the festive period: “If we look at the Christmas period as a whole, then we were disappointed with the result at Portsmouth,” said Ross. “We were frustrated with the draw against Shrewsbury, but it’s been similar to the season as a whole really – it’s not been perfect, but there were more pluses than minuses. For the club as a whole, the fact we performed and won in front of 46,000, and that we performed and won in front of 8,000 travelling supporters, was good. It’s not always the case that things go that well. On both occasions, we’ve given those fans a result and a performance that was worth the effort they made to come and support the club. So I do think it’s been another small step forward in that respect.”
In other news, Jonny Williams joined Charlton Athletic yesterday and could face Sunderland today, but he had some nice things to say about his former club: "As much as I could, I enjoyed my time there and made some really good friends," Williams said. "Lovely people and a lovely club, so what better way to start my time here than to play against my old team Sunderland? I’m really looking forward to it.”
In more random news, Didier Ndong has been chatting about his time at Sunderland. The midfielder has joined French side Guingamp, who have also taken Papy Djilobodji. Maybe they will sign Donald Love next. "My transfer to Sunderland was not really my will. Loïc Féry [the president at Lorient], who is a president who also loved me, was forced to sell me because Lorient needed money at that time. My first season went well in England. In terms of the game, there was no problem. But there was a lack of language and the absence of my family, all that hurt me. I also did not understand the good behaviour to have in Europe. I had some delays, I lacked professionalism. There are many things that I did not master. At one point in the season, the club was not doing well - it went down two times in a row - and it started chattering around me. I missed something. I was not undisciplined but there are too many things that I did not master. There was also poor communication. It cost me dear."