Pre Donny Presser

 

Here's Jack Ross' pre Donny presser, in full...

 

Five matches left to go; it is still in your own hands?

The season has been emotionally draining for everybody involved in the club and the journey we've been on over the last eight or nine months - but if you strip it back and look at where we're at, what lies ahead and what we could possibly achieve, the truth is we've got five games left and if we win them we still achieve it. The margin for error is obviously less because of the last couple of games but such is the nature of the season - not just for us but the other teams at the top - then I would imagine there will still be some twist and turns over the remaining fixtures.

 

You managed to pick the team up after Wembley - is this another test of character?

Yeah, but I have to be quite strong and say there has to be a sensible aspect to it. When you lose one game in 20, when you lose in your own stadium for the first time over the whole course of the season, it's not enjoyable and you don't want it to happen at a vital stage of the season, those are the facts. The players are sore at losing the game but it's not like they've lost 10 games in a row. They're a squad which put that run together so it's probably just making sure they stay calm and they remain true to what they've done to date and ensure they keep trying to do the good things over these remaining five games, while looking to rectify the things they could have done better, particularly in the last match.

 

Do you sense any tension around the Stadium of Light?

No, but I think there's an increased atmosphere within the stadium. I certainly felt that last Saturday although obviously the way the game panned out probably added to that, but certainly I think pre-match you felt that added intensity for the game. That happens when you've chasing the prize. What we have to be careful of is we don't get drawn into playing in a manner where we lose control of our emotions. You have to play with emotion and be passionate about what you do but I think we've shown we've got in the group - even how we performed to come back (against Coventry). But we have to keep making good decisions and I think in the last couple of games we've maybe lost a little bit of control. I take my responsibility for that in terms of controlling the game and controlling some of the decisions within it, whereas because of the record we've had at the stadium this season, we've controlled other games and had more of a grip on them, which has allowed us to win games.

 

Have you had any tactical rethink this week?

Any tactical decisions are only judged as being good or bad by the end result. As a manager you look at different things but ultimately it's about winning games. There's an element about the system we play but it's also about how the players play within that system. Now if they play poorly or well that will obviously dictate the success of it, but also it's about some of the choice you make. We were making choices which allowed us to not have any control of the game. Now that lack of control meant we still a threat and created opportunities, but equally left us vulnerable at the other end so we need to make sure we pick a team and find a way that shows we have control of the game and we can win it from there.

 

Is it better to playing rivals or teams will little left to play for?

We've found every game challenging this season for different reasons, but I maintain our performances by and large have been better against the teams around us. I think the fact we've got a good side (Doncaster) who will try to win the game on Friday will suit us as well. We're very respectful of what Grant (McCann) has done this season and how Doncaster have performed - I've enjoyed watching them.We enjoyed the game at their place and had to work hard, but hopefully we'll have a similar result on Friday.

 

Is anyone who was out injured set to return?

We've had a lot out recently and some have benefited from the week (since Coventry) - for example Lee Cattermole maybe shouldn't have been in the squad last weekend after only just returning to training at the end of week, but we were so short on numbers we needed him just in case. But he's had a full week of training so he's much more in contention. Aiden (McGeady) is still not training so remains extremely doubtful. We managed to get a little bit of game time out of him last Saturday but probably shouldn't have. We have a few which are just returning to training today - Lynden (Gooch), Adam (Matthews), Reece (James) but they've been out for a period of time. Chris Maguire also falls into the bracket but obviously with a longer time out, so there's a few who have returned today (Wednesday) which is equivalent normally of Thursday for us so it's quite close to the game - we'll see how they've come through. I would hope a couple would be available, but there'll probably be a couple it's too soon for. Hopefully they'll be in stronger contention for Monday.

 

 

Chris Maguire had hoped to be back last week?

That was the goal he had set and he did return to training just prior to Coventry, but he's been out for eight weeks, which is quite a long period of time, so you're playing catch up with general fitness but also in terms of awareness and touch etc. He's had a full week in training so he's much more in contention to be involved with the squad than he would have been last Saturday.

 

Any thoughts about changing centre-backs?

Across the season we haven't made any knee-jerk reactions or decisions. What we've always done is considered the game - and other games - which have gone previously and if there's patterns which emerge or things which you think can do better. Also you judge players on what you see on a daily basis. Having this full week has been helpful in that regard because we've been able to look at players to see where they're at both mentally and physically and then choose what we think is the right team based on what we think we need to beat Doncaster, and also what we've seen this week as well.

 

Two games in four days - there's no rest

No, it's been like for us all season because of the cup runs, so we've been used to it in that sense. I must admit for me as a manager I've enjoyed this week because I've been on the training pitch properly. We've hardly training recently, so we've had a good week's training and I've been back to actually working with the players on the training pitch. There's a certain amount of escapism for manager in that you're out doing what you enjoy the most, and then there's the obvious benefit when you've able to work more easily on things you can't when you don't have time on the training pitch. So we've got as much as we can out of this week, because post Peterborough is a short week before Portsmouth and we don't really have any free weeks before the end of the season.

 

And are you still reasonably upbeat?

Yeah. You have a frustration and Saturday took a lot of you emotionally in terms of the disappointment you feel as you have a lot of pride in what you do, and the run we were on, but if you're involved in professional sport at an elite level you're going to have bumps in the road along the way. I've spoken a lot about consistency and my behaviours and actions don't really change, it's just making sure the players follow in that same way, and I think they have done this season. We're looking forward to Friday now - it's great when you have that opportunity to get back out on to the pitch and try to put a defeat right.

 

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At the back end of the 1980s, football fanzines began to sweep the country and in 1989 we were presented with a new vehicle on which to enjoy some of this ride – A Love Supreme. ALS was a place we could all go to celebrate and commiserate being a Sunderland fan. Win, lose or draw, the pages of the fanzine became solace for many of us as we stumbled our way through our day to day lives, punctuated by the ups and downs of more match days than any of us care to remember.

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