What next for Jack Ross after Sunderland sacking?

Graham Ruthven by Graham Ruthven / 09 October 2019, 10:56

No club has chewed up and spat out as many managers as Sunderland in recent years.

Indeed, the Black Cats have ploughed through 10 different permanent managers over the past decade, so Jack Ross surely thought twice about taking over at the Stadium of Light in the summer of 2018. For so many before him, this had been a career graveyard.

Ross was sold on the notion of a fresh start. Sunderland had been relegated from the English Championship before and would be favourites, with new owners in tow, to go back up from League One.

Just over a year on, though, and New Sunderland doesn’t appear to be much different from Old Sunderland.

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Following a poor start to the season, Tuesday saw Ross sacked as Black Cats boss.

Sunderland currently sit slumped in sixth place in English football’s third tier, a long, long way from where they see themselves in the not so distant future - the Premier League. This had been coming for a while. Ross couldn’t have been too surprised when the call came.

So what’s next for Ross?

He arrived at the Stadium of Light as Scottish football’s brightest and best young manager, but for whatever reason he failed to live up to those expectations down south.

His next move will go a long way to determining whether or not Ross is still destined for the top of the game.

Even before he was sacked by Sunderland, Ross had been linked with a number of Scottish jobs.

Indeed, there is a group of clubs all suffering disappointing starts to the season who would surely consider the 43-year-old should they make a change in the dugout.

Ross, who is still remembered north of the border for the near miracle he performed at St Mirren, won’t be short of offers...

Hibernian?

Hibernian is perhaps the most likely destination for Ross to resurface. The Leith side are currently just two points off the foot of the Scottish Premiership table and are without a win since the opening match of the season. Paul Heckingbottom has temporarily stopped the rot with back-to-back draws against Celtic and Aberdeen, but he is surely living on borrowed time at Easter Road.

Hearts?

Across the other side of the capital, Hearts are suffering their own problems. They too are just two points from the foot of the Scottish Premiership with many supporters growing tired of Craig Levein’s methods.

They want a change and despite a tumultuous history with the Tynecastle club Ross would almost certainly be a candidate for that job too if it came up.

Aberdeen?

Less likely is the prospect of Ross pitching up at Pittodrie, at least in the immediate term. It increasingly seems that Derek McInnes has reached the end of a cycle as Aberdeen boss.

Just like at Hearts, there is a growing desire in the stands for something new, something different. Barring a disastrous run of form, McInnes is in no immediate danger of losing his job, but it’s feasible that a parting of ways could occur at the end of the season. That could open the door for Ross.

Ross remains an attractive proposition for many in the Scottish game...

Some Scottish observers have been guilty of building up Ross too much. So desperate for another top tier football manager born and raised north of the border, Ross was afforded acclaim he barely deserved. The 43-year-old was even mentioned as a potential Scotland manager after Gordon Strachan’s departure as national team boss two years ago.

It’s true that even in Scottish football Ross has yet to prove himself as a top tier coach. He left St Mirren for Sunderland after leading the Paisley club to promotion and so the intensity of the Scottish Premiership would be something new for him. There would be an element of risk to his appointment at Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs or anywhere else in the top flight.

Nonetheless, Ross remains an attractive proposition for many in the Scottish game. Should he pick the right club, the 43-year-old will pick up his career trajectory from where it was just over a year ago.

His time at Sunderland could soon become little more than a blip, but while Ross might never be Scotland’s next great football manager, he can still make a mark at the top.

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