Ross In. A dignified but incisive valedictory: ‘I leave with head held high’

‘I reflect on two Wembley finals, one home league defeat, victories over Premier League opposition and overall progression’


A lot of Salut! Sunderland readers go nowhere near Twitter
and as one who spends far too much time there, Monsieur Salut can but say: “Bear with me. I am hopeful of finding a cure.”

But I must admit I have been flabbergasted by the names that have been more or less officially linked with the search for a successor to Jack Ross – and what those names say about our status and ambition.

First we hear in effect that Ross was not good enough. “.. with three quarters of the season remaining, we did not feel things were going as well as they should be,” our executive director and my own former colleague Charlie Methven tells The Daily Telegraph.

Lo and behold, we are revealed to have approached the Coventry City boss Mark Robins, confirmed by City after they promptly offered him enough reason (money?) to stay.

And now, so far unconfirmed but from the Chronicle’s excellent and normally reliable James Hunter, we have approached the Wycombe Wanderers rock ‘n rolling manager Gareth Ainsworth (his band is called something like Dog Chewed The Handle).

On the basis that we may well be looking at any manager whose team happens to be ahead of us just now in the league, stand by for news of Paul Lambert, who would be mad to leave Ipswich, Joey Barton (no prizes for guessing which word among the six before “no prize” best fits) or, for heaven’s sake, Simon Grayson.

Meanwhile, a man who had faults and did oversee too many draws but got us to Wembley twice and very nearly promoted while bringing a long-forgotten semblance of stability to the club has issued a rather dignified statement that, read between the lines, has a bit of punch.

In full (I think):

‘It has been an honour to have the responsibility and privilege of managing Sunderland AFC for the past eighteen months, and it is with regret that I leave my position there.

I leave with my head held high in respect to the depth of commitment and hard work my staff and I applied to the job. I offer my sincerest gratitude to all my staff, those who I brought with me to the club, and those who were already in place. Every single one of them has provided me with huge support and are not only good at their jobs, but more importantly are fantastic people.

I would also like to extend my thanks to all the players I worked with and who bought into my ideas and workings, and I will miss the relationships I built with them.

To the supporters of the club I offer my thanks for their welcome eighteen months ago and their support since. I hope that the future brings a deserved reward for their passionate and loyal backing.

Finally, I reflect upon two Wembley finals, one league defeat at the Stadium of Light, victories over Premier League opposition and an overall progressive record and take satisfaction from them. Furthermore, I believe that we rebuilt a spirit within the Academy of Light under the most challenging circumstances at times.

Thank you to Sunderland AFC and good luck’

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18 thoughts on “Ross In. A dignified but incisive valedictory: ‘I leave with head held high’”

  1. Like everyone I’m as frustrated as hell and almost drawn in by the social media trolls. But mature people take a breath, consider the realities, remember the days when the SOL was empty at half time after we conceded one goal and recognise Jack Ross is/will be a top top manager.

    Sadly I wonder if Mr Donald is now regretting his overreaction as it appears he has scrapped his twitter account for good.

    BTW as we are now in this position its Ainsworth for me so we can kick and cheat our way out this league like the rest.

    • If I have read things right, Stewart Donald has deleted his Twitter account because of threats that were made against him should he decide to appoint certain managers. These people are not supporters and despite the fact they purport to be passionate about the club are seriously undermining any progress or improvement. These morons seem to think that they know better than anyone else and that their simplistic solutions will guarantee we win easily every week and promotion will be a certainty.

      Their true understanding of all the issues involved in running a football club and creating a winning side is zero and is based on their own simplistic and bigoted opinions which are not thought through with any degree of logic. I do not use Twitter, Instagram or any other of these platforms which they use to vent their ignorance as I prefer to think for myself. These are obnoxious people who, if they started using my local would drive me to drink elsewhere and if I thought I sat near any of them in the Stadium I would change seats. Trolls is too cuddly a word for these morons who obviously have issues themselves if they feel it is acceptable to threaten violence and retribution on anyone who may not agree with them.

      • I have to say I didn’t check the real reason why he closed his twitter account, but if what you say is correct, then I totally agree with every word you’ve said.

        Ironically these morons (I was too polite…) will have been moaning about previous owner’s lack of information & not being open with fans. They get what they want and abuse it.

        Elsewhere you’ll see a once respectable and informative SAFC fans forum has had to put a notice out threatening to close the forum because of similar abuse between “fans”.

        Please stay away from Salut!

  2. Well Kev, that’s your opinion and you are entitled to it.

    What I would like to know is what bench mark does the new manager have to rise to, any more than two losses and he’s out, fails to win by at least two goals every game. This is a tight league, we just need to get out any which way we can.

    Ross was not even half way through his current deal, and was ditched by the Club who have nobody lined up and the names being associated don’t have records as good as Ross. Additionally Ross had a lot of old baggage to deal with prior to getting things sorted on the bench.

    That pretty much sounds like headless chickens to me. We have pretty much been plunged back into the terminal vortex and I for one will be amazed if we get out of this division this season and if we don’t what was the point of sacking Ross in the first place and not honouring the contract. The Club never learns from its past mistakes, just when we start to establish some degree of stability we throw it away because we think we should be winning every game and cakewalking the league, get real.

    • I agree with many of your points CSB. Ross did a brilliant job dealing with the baggage he was left with 16 months ago. And there is an element of our support who think we should be winning 5-0 every week. I’ve always said it was never going to be easy, especially as every team we play treats it like a cup final.

      Changing your manager is always a gamble. Man Utd keep getting it wrong and so could we. But as I say, the performances over the last 18 league games and 7 months, don’t suggest Ross was likely to take us up. I agree with you, we need to get out of this division any which way we can. If we were in the Championship it would be a different ball game and we could afford to give a manager more time. In this division I feel it’s different – despite the tough schedule, some teams are managing to ‘boss’ games, score goals and be convincing. Luton and Barnsley last season and Peterborough are the best example at the moment. Ross’ team in recent months have never threatened to do the same. Like most people on this forum I crave stability but, in my view, Ross had hit a wall and there were no real signs that things were going to change enough to get us up.

      We have different views on the owners obviously. I think they’ve done a superb job since they arrived, running the club properly and sensibly. They’ve made the difficult decision to change manager and will appoint someone soon. They’re certainly not headless chickens as far as I’m concerned. Many of the names being mentioned have Division 1 and 2 Promotions on their CV. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily fit us but I’d argue that their records are just as good as Ross’ who has one Promotion on his CV.

      • Kev, time will tell but I feel they have made a very poor decision with no explicit explanation as to the why or our current strategy in face of these actions. That’s why it looks knee jerk.

        I agree that they have done a fine job in stabilizing the club but this action has just destabilised the whole situation again and this is where the concern is coming from regarding the direction we are going in.

        Personally, I think we can kiss promotion good bye this season and so Ross’ sacking has been counterproductive.

        Time will tell.

  3. I think we should take a look at performances rather than concentrate solely on statistics. As I said on this site last week I was a big Ross fan last season – I was hoping he’d be our manager for years to come and I have the utmost respect for him as a man. I was really saddened that it has come to this.

    But it just wasn’t working. Take a look at the last 18 league games during Ross’ reign (11 this season and the last 7 of last season). By my reckoning there was ONE convincing performance in this period (the 2-0 Doncaster win last Easter). The other games included the appalling defeats at Fleetwood, Southend, Peterborough and Lincoln. And the shambles at Bolton. There were some awful draws and a few wins …… but none of the other wins were convincing. We ended up hanging on in most of them. Probably more importantly, there were no signs that things were going to change. There was no evidence that we were ever going to be able to boss and control a game and win 2 or 3-nil. Ross (a great man-manager I suspect) failed badly on the tactical front throughout this period.

    Those who say he should have been “given until December” …. why ? …… you’d have only been sacking him in December, giving the new man even less time to resurrect things.

    And as for a number of people who’ve been saying that the owners are now running around like “headless chickens” trying to find anyone ….. where does that come from ? ……….. they are drawing up a shortlist, they’ll interview those applicants and then appoint one of them. How else should they do it ?

    I’m also not sure who people expect us to be interviewing …. Klopp, Guardiola ? We’re in the Third Division and where else can we start looking other than managers with a Promotion or two on their CV, preferably at our level. Ross only had one Promotion on his CV (in Scotland) when he arrived. Keep the Faith.

    (Interesting point about John Cooke. I’ve always thought that Cookey should write the definitive book about our club over the last 30 years. He is the one man who knows it all !).

    • Nice comments Kev. Managers last a couple of years at every team. So, while I don’t like a lot of names in the frame, someone who gets us up will do for me

  4. Gareth Ainsworth has done a decent job at Wycombe but it has taken him seven years to get them to where they are now. He did spot Luke O’Nien and took a gamble on him, so he can identify a good player and one with the right character. But (and it’s a big one) my admiration for him declined after their display at our place and disappeared after the appalling attempt to clog as many as our players as possible at theirs. The foul on Duncan Watmore that ruled him out for another 6 months was a disgrace. Ainsworth was responsible for the environment that that foul came from.
    We could wait a few weeks and grab Pochettino when Spurs sack him. Barring that, give the job to kit man John Cooke; he’s been there for years. He couldn’t be any worse than some of the abject names that are being suggested.

  5. Looking at the stats. He has the highest win ratio (50%) of any manager until we go back to Billy Elliot in ’79. We had lost 7 league games since he came (10 including the cups). We were 3rd in the table of football clubs losing the least number of games (behind L’pool & Chelsea).
    Granted we didn’t win as many games as we would have liked, but compared to the state of the club when he came, I thought that he had done a decent job. Yes, he could have done better; then again, so could many people in their job who don’t get sacked. I would have loved to have been promoted last season, but it didn’t happen.
    It is a shame that an extremely loud, negative campaign effectively got rid of him. I would have given him until the end of December. We’re now back to normal, running around like headless chickens trying to find someone who wants to come to us. Planning? What’s that?

  6. When you look at the names being named as his successor you have to hide behind the curtains . I liked Ross, but he didn’t address the problems we had last season re. big wrong midfielders and defenders, pace throughout the team , and a goal scorer to replace Maja. Plus a leader on the pitch .

    • Quite correct, but we were moving in the right direction. The sacking of Ross is a retrograde step as they will inevitably fail to attract anyone with his record.

      I think back to Steve Bruce’s ill advised comments regarding Sunderland fans expecting too much just before he was pushed out, its right to dream but we must have realistic timescales. this league is very competitive and no body cake walks it and to expect us to do that is unrealistic look at last season where the teams that got promoted lost more games than us, yes too many draws but we were better placed.

      How anybody can say that this move is beneficial to the Club based upon Ross’s record and that anybody else coming in is going to achieve a 100% record is head in the clouds territory and up there with the clowns who got him sacked in the first place.

  7. The Ross out brigade got what they wanted, possibly despite what Stewart Donald says, because they were loud enough on social media and amongst those who go to away games and the board realised the negative effect that constant criticism was having on the team and the manager.

    Never once did I hear a credible alternative suggested, only an assumption that not changing the manager was the only reason we weren’t winning every game by a large margin.

    Now those, who Pete Sixsmith eloquently described as knowing everything (in their own minds) but understanding nothing have got their way, we are bound to win every game with ease and walk this division are we not?

    Meanwhile, should Ainsworth be appointed I can provide insight into his training methods and confidently predict the first session goes like this.

    A row of those mannequin things is set up. The players are instructed to run towards them, make slight contact without knocking them over, but then to fall dramatically, like a bluebottle zapped with fly spray and roll round clutching a body part of choice.

    How long before the next man becomes a target? I don’t think Ross got everything right but he got a lot more right than wrong.

  8. Yes, all this sounds, feels, smells and tastes vaguely familiar, Sunderland without a Manager and the hierarchy running around in an embarrassing manner trying to plug the managerial gap that they have just created!!!

    Sunderland Rule Book – Rule Number 1, when a minority of the support turn on the manger for loosing two games out of eleven panic and sack.

    Rule Number 2, prior to the enactment of rule Number 1 ensure that no managerial replacement has been sounded out regarding the soon to be vacated post,

    Rule Number 3, having ensured that Rules 1 & 2 have been met and a quorum vote of membership acceptance of said completion, proceed due haste to a position whereby the Club sets itself up to be a laughing stock in the increasingly frantic and desperate attempts to get a replacement,

    Rule Number 4, should any manager have the audacity to stop and reverse a terminal decline in the Clubs direction sack immediately for showing up the Board and offering a faint wisp of hope to a beleaguered and jaded support.

    As the demised fanzine said ‘its the hope I can’t stand’!!!!! and that hope has taken a very real hit this time. Do they know what they are doing, me thinks not.

    • The quote attributed to Einstein
      ” Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”
      fits SAFC to a T.

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