Too Many Draws

Sunderland remain third in the table after failing to beat Luton. The draw is our tenth this season. Jack Ross said: “There are loads of different facets to that; one, you are playing for a big club, whether you like Sunderland, hate Sunderland, you can’t dispute this is a big club with an incredible fanbase an incredible infrastructure. That in itself is different to a lot of clubs and brings with it expectation, pressure and responsibility, not just on me but the players. The perception of us being in this league, how other clubs perceive visiting this stadium, supporters, how they view picking up a result against us. All these things and maybe the view from afar that only being third in the table is underachieving, that is for some people to judge on me whether that is the case or not. We are a good League One team. We are not a Premier League team that has been chucked into League One. These are all things that come into the mix. I have to be acutely aware of that and continue to make sure that I keep my players on that upbeat, they are good as a group. They need me to drag them along and it is up to me to say ‘don’t leave here with your chin on the floor, leave here knowing you are third in the league, a game in hand, right in amongst it with loads of the season to go.’ They are in a good place. We are not seventh, eighth or ninth in the table, thinking can we scratch into the play-offs. We have given ourselves a chance. It is a balance between the positives, scoring in every league game, the way we play at times, but also recognising the areas we need to improve. That is how we approach training and the analysis we do. I have a group that buys into that, it is just reminding them of that constantly.”

Ross on bringing in a new striker: “Nothing that I know that is imminent. We are working hard on it, obviously. I have always been quite straight forward and when I knew somebody was coming in then I would say I expect it to be the case, but I can’t say anything definitely that somebody would be in for then. I would hope but nothing imminent at the moment.”

Ross on Josh Maja’s absence: “I know that there'll be 101 different theories as to why he wasn't involved. The good thing is I generally I tell the truth, so when I say he is ill, that is the case. I first got word on Friday night around 10 o'clock that he was unwell, he deteriorated overnight and didn't get any better this morning. The doctor went to see him mid-morning and he wasn't well, he had a stomach bug. One, Josh is absolutely not the kind of lad where that wouldn't be the case. Two, there is absolutely nothing happening with any club in terms of him leaving. Three, he just wasn't well. It is as straightforward as that."

Ross on whether George Honeyman will return next week against Scunthorpe: “He’s probably no more than 50/50. If you ask the medical team they would say no, if you asked me and George then maybe - that sums it up best! We have a mini break with no Gillingham game after next weekend. There is an opinion that we would be best served to wait until after that. I value George highly having him in my squad. We will just see how it unfolds this week regards him.”

Reece James also put a positive spin on the disappointing draw: “The first ten, 15 minutes they made it very difficult for us. They started well, really bright. They put us under pressure but once we settled in we created some good chances and I thought we could have been more than one up. But then Jon in goal has made some fantastic saves. I don’t think it was too bad a point but we have to turn some of these draws into wins, especially when we go a goal up. We’ve just got to keep plugging away. Things just haven’t quite dropped for us, there’s been some ricochets even that just haven’t dropped in the right place. We’ve got to keep going and hopefully some luck will fall our way in the next few games. I still think it was a free kick on Chrissy on the edge of the box (leading up to the penalty). If the referee has given what he’s given for what happened in the box, which was for me, minimal if anything. Even their players looked a little bit bewildered. It was harsh on us but these things can happen in football. When you get that run of games you build that momentum and you start to understand the players around you, what they want from you and what you want from them,” he said. “You build relationships, playing regularly means you get that. I still feel there’s more to come from me, hopefully I can do that in the next few games. We’ve got a squad where anyone could play on any given day, Bryan has come on there and done well, Denver isn’t too far off. We’ve got quality everywhere, hopefully we can get the squad fully fit soon.”

Stand in Luton boss Mick Harford was happy with the point and thinks Jack Ross is doing a great job for the club he loves so dearly. Harford said: “I have a lot of admiration for Jack Ross, he has built a good team in a short space of time. He has them galvanised, has some real good players and he has recruited very well alongside my best mate Tony Coton, head of recruitment at Sunderland. Jack is doing a great job. Sunderland fans want to see an attractive team, people who have a go and work hard, I am a Sunderland fan. If the players don’t work hard then the fans won’t turn up, you saw there was almost 40,000 fans here for a League One game which tells you. Is he doing a good job? Absolutely, yeah, and in a short space of time because he had a lot of s**t to sort out, really! As we all know.”