In It To Win It

Jack Ross has visited Wembley before to watch the Scottish national team, but he can’t wait to lead Sunderland out there later this month. “I was at the old Wembley in 1996 believe it or not as a supporter when England beat us and the European Championship,” Ross said. “I’m told the new stadium is magnificent. The club were at there a few years ago at the League cup final and the guys have been raving about it. We will take 40,000 fans and more. So will Portsmouth. There is talk about there being more at this final than there was the League Cup final between Manchester City and Chelsea. What does it mean to me? The thing is, and I used to say this when I was at St Mirren, I do view this as my job which means I don’t get carried away. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t appreciate what’s happened because I’m so wrapped up in the job. Maybe that will happen in the fullness of time. But what I do recognise is that this is an incredible football club. It’s been through really tough times and yet the fan-base is loyal, unbelievably so, and hopefully this is a little bit of repayment for them. Even after we won on Tuesday night, you could sense how excited everyone was around the club because so many are fans. They are true Mackems and just happen to work at the club. I could see the excitement. We have a lot of important games between then now but in the week leading up the final it will be special. There is a perception on the outside that we should win all the time; that Sunderland should be winning every week,” admitted Ross. That comes with the size of this club, the expectations are huge and the reality is that League One is tough. Remember, this is a football club which hadn’t won a lot of games over a fair few years. There are new owners and, of course, a new management team. So, there was a lot of things to sort out and to be honest we still going through a lot of of transition. We have had two league defeats, four in total, over 43 games. We’ve scored in every league game. We’ve done a lot of good things this season. I do take pride in that but, and this is just the way I am, I’ll only take satisfaction in all of this if we win this trophy and get promotion, which was the targets I set myself right at the start when I took this job. This is a wonderful football club. It’s intense and demanding. I feel like every decision I make is scrutinised. But that’s the job. I genuinely believe it’s a privilege for me to be the manager of Sunderland. Who knows if I will get another chance in my career to be responsible for making so many people happy.”

Meanwhile, Will Grigg reckons that he’ll only enjoy the Checkatrade Trophy final if we win it! That’s the attitude. He said: “We’ve got players here who have played in massive games – like Aiden (McGeady) and Adam Matthews – but some of the lads haven’t so it’s going to be a great occasion for them. You have to take it in while you can, but at the end of the day it’s a game of football and you have to win it. You have to approach the game as normally as possible, and I’m sure the gaffer will be brilliant in that respect. You have to enjoy it and take it in – but the most important thing is you have to try to win it. It’s probably the perfect fixture for the EFL and everyone involved – it’s going to be an unbelievable day, two big fanbases, two big clubs. But we’ll be doing our best to come out on top. I like the Sky cameras and all that,” he added. “I like the big occasions, so hopefully that will be another to add to the portfolio. Everyone knows we’ve been taking the competition seriously, and you could see that from Tuesday's line-up. We knew it would be a tough game having been there a few weeks ago and it was even tougher than that. The conditions made it a little bit difficult, but I think we showed our quality and we've got a trip to Wembley now. My all-round play has been quite good, but I came in saying I was going to score goals so there's obviously been that emphasis. I feel like I've fitted in well and got a good connection with the players on and off the pitch. I think I've been playing quite well, it's just I've missed a few chances and people start to talk. I have missed a few chances, so I expect that. But I’ll score goals no matter what, and if I add a few goals to my all-round game at the moment, I'll be doing all right. Hopefully, the fans have seen that every game, I give my all. I’ll keep working hard and doing the right things - I believe in myself and my ability. I will score goals – I’ve proved that at every level and every club I've been at. It’s nice people are appreciating my all-round game though, and I'll continue to work hard.”