Sunderland EXCLUSIVE: ‘Jack Ross still the man to get Black Cats promoted’, insists owner Stewart Donald

27 May

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has insisted he will not sell the club after their play-off final and insists Jack Ross is the right manager to deliver promotion next season.

The Black Cats have failed in their quest to bounce straight back up to the Championship, as they were beaten by Charlton in Monday’s League One play-off final at Wembley.

And they lost in heartbreaking fashion too, with the Addicks scoring the winning goal of a 2-1 victory in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.

Charlton came up trumps at Wembley as Sunderland prepare for another season in League One[/caption]

The victory has cast doubt on Donald’s ownership, having vowed to help Sunderland back to the second tier when he purchased the Wearside club from Ellis Short in May 2018.

It has also put a big question mark over the future of manager Jack Ross, who has faced criticism for failing to secure promotion with the league’s biggest transfer budget.

But in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT, Donald has insisted neither he nor Ross are going anywhere.

Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White after Monday’s play-off defeat, the Black Cats chief said: “It’s absolutely galling to not have delivered for the fans.

“That’s twice we’ve been to Wembley this season and twice we haven’t delivered for the fans, I’m absolutely gutted. This is a killer.

Lee Cattermole looks on as Charlton celebrate their play-off final win

“I will be here [next season]. I might sell some of my investment, but I don’t know yet.

“But what can you do? You’ve just got to go again.

“Financially we don’t need to let the club go, we’re safe enough, but if we really need to get back up to the Premier League we need some investment.

“So I’ll have a think about that over the next few days and have a look at the options in front of us.

“The bottom line is, off the field the club is safe. From where the club was 12 months ago, financially we’re secure so we haven’t got to rush into anything.”

It appears that needed investment may be on the way, after US investor Mark Campbell was spotted at Wembley alongside Donald.

The Sunderland chief said business with the American is a real possibility, but also revealed he wasn’t the only potential investor at the match.

“I think there are four or five people who have tabled options to us that are here today, he’s one of them,” he said.

“He [Campbell] is a good guy and he might be someone we get involved. He’s one of four or five options we’ve got, but nothing is done.

“I need to sit down and analyse the next few weeks and see what options are going to be best for the club.”

Jack Ross was appointed Sunderland manager by Donald when he took over the club in May 2018

Asked about Ross’ future in the Stadium of Light hotseat, Donald insisted he is the right man to take the club up next season.

“Jack is as gutted as we all are,” he added. “But if you’re asking me is Jack Ross going to be here next season, then yes he is, from my perspective.

“It was a big job on his hands. If you play football manager you’re going to say, ‘it’s the biggest budget, it’s Sunderland, you should go up’. But it isn’t like that and Jack has had a lot to contend with.

“He’s been thrown in at the deep end and we’ve done alright. Next year we definitely want to go up and I think Jack can deliver that for us.”

Listen back to Stewart Donald’s interview with talkSPORT IN FULL above

Portsmouth vs Sunderland: Luke O’Nien will not press charges against fan who hit him in play-off semi-final

17 May

Sunderland defender Luke O’Nien will not press charges against the fan who hit him during the play-off semi-final.

In the second-half of the second leg tie at Fratton Park, O’Nien and Portsmouth defender Tom Naylor tussled on the sideline before the Black Cats full-back was forced over the edge of the advertising hoardings.

O’Nien went over the advertising hoarding where Portsmouth fans were sitting and received a ‘few digs’

As he tried to get up, O’Nien appeared to be struck on numerous occasions by a member of the crowd.

“I went over the board and he had a few digs at me, but that’s football and it’s fine,” he told Sky Sports after Sunderland booked their place at Wembley.

“Police asked if I wanted to press charges, but that’s just football. When the whistle goes it’s just two teams going at it and two crowds going at it – that’s just part of it.

“There was a little bit of contact, but it was what it was. He didn’t hurt me in the end. I think he got arrested in the end, but he can have that one.”

O’Nien and Naylor grappled before the Sunderland player slipped over the hoardings
As O’Nien was on the floor, one Portsmouth fan (second from the right) appeared to aim a kick at him
O’Nien landed right in front of an angry mob of Portsmouth fans
Cattermole and Power were furious at the actions of the Sunderland supporter

Jack Ross, the Sunderland manager, said: “I asked the fourth official and he said I think a supporter had swung an arm
at him, which isn’t great.

“I wouldn’t make too big a deal of it, not because we won the tie but simply because I enjoy coming here. I think it’s a proper football ground, really good fan base.

“One idiot shouldn’t spoil it or tarnish that fan group.

“Knowing Luke as a lad, I would be very, very confident that he hasn’t instigated anything because he’s far from that type of character.

“You can’t condone it but there are 18,000-plus people in this stadium tonight and the vast majority come here to support both teams and back them properly.”

It was 0-0 on the night, but Sunderland progress to Wembley thanks to a 1-0 aggregate victory.

They will face the winner of Friday night’s other semi-final, between Charlton and Doncaster, which is live on talkSPORT 2 at 19:45.

Jack Ross praises Sunderland fans, calls on them to help make Stadium of Light into fortress

6 Aug

Sunderland manager Jack Ross has heaped adulation on the club’s fans following his first game in charge.

The Black Cats beat Charlton 2-1 in their League One opener at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as they began their recovery from back-to-back relegations.

Lynden Gooch scored in the sixth added minute to give Sunderland three points on the opening day

After recording just seven league victories in the entirety of last season and six in the campaign prior, the team’s supporters were overjoyed to get off to a winning start in 2018/19.

“There’s been so many changes at the club it felt a bit symbolic, if you like, to win the game in that manner,” said Ross to the Jim White Show of Lynden Gooch’s injury time winner.

“As a manager I’d like to win it in a more comfortable and relaxed fashion, but I think winning in that manner seemed right.

“People left the stadium happy, which is obviously what we want to do on a fortnightly basis at home.”

Ross was named PFA Scotland Manager of the Year last season after St Mirren’s Scottish Championship win

Regarding the supporters, Ross told talkSPORT that he was overwhelmed at the reaction to his first match in English football management.

“I’ve said often enough, over the last eight or nine weeks since that I’ve been in the job, that their loyalty and commitment is just unquestionable.

“But I think seeing it first hand on Saturday and giving them that something back… it just felt right.”

Moving forward, the 42-year-old called on his new home faithful to help make the Stadium of Light into feared territory for visiting teams.

“We can make our home stadium a really difficult place for opposition to come to, rather than enjoying coming to the surroundings and loving playing there.

“If we can do that with our support behind us, then we’ll create a momentum that will be very difficult to stop.

“It’s a good start, and I say a long, long way to go in that respect.”