Wise Men Say contributor and former Sunderland striker Stephen Elliott writes exclusively for wisemensay.co.uk on Sunderland, Jack Ross and a bright future for the Black Cats
On my way to the game on Saturday I must admit that, probably like most of us, I was very curious to what starting eleven Jack Ross was going to go with. After the shambolic performance last Saturday there was bound to be changes. And there were.
The biggest change that stood out for me was the new pairing of Jimmy Dunne and Alim Ozturk in place of Tom Flanagan and Jack Baldwin. I certainly don’t think the pair could have argued that much with the manager’s decision to leave them out!
This proved to be a masterstroke from the Sunderland boss as both did really well and looked solid throughout. There was no messing about from either of them. Both won their headers and cleared their lines. For me, this is the most important thing to do for defenders, especially at this level. The fact that Doncaster didn’t provide a real threat all afternoon was largely down to the two centre halves and their no nonsense defending. The other main factor in this was having the drive of returning midfield general Lee Cattermole
Ozturk especially should be highly credited for keeping himself physically and mentally fit after being a somewhat outcast for most of the season. He looked a bit leggy last ten minutes which was understandable, but he put in a really good shift which will hopefully give him a confidence boost in that famous red and white shirt.
Let’s hope himself and Dunne can become a solid partnership for the next few weeks and take the club one step closer back to where it belongs, in the top flight.
Jack Ross has made a few mistakes this season, most notably with his substitutions at Wembley, but he has a habit of getting a good a result immediately afterwards. Nobody is perfect but he seems to realise when he doesn’t get things quite right and tries his hardest to make amends as soon as possible.
I genuinely think he could become a long term manager for Sunderland. He speaks very well and looks so suited to this football club. I’ve every belief that over the next few weeks he has the tools to help the squad get the results required to finish in the top two.
Even if the club don’t get promoted this year, which would admittedly be a slight failure on everyone’s part, I would feel much more comfortable with Ross at the helm again rather than starting over with someone new. To say that there have been too many managers in recent times would be an understatement. Ross will learn from mistakes and get better as a manager moving forward.
I for one hope he is here for the long haul. If he isn’t, it would be very disappointing to see a different club benefit from his managerial development in the future.