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Feature

In Focus: Sunderland

10 July 2019

Name: Sunderland AFC

Founded: 1879

Ground: The Stadium of Light

Capacity: 49,000

Manager: Jack Ross

Last season: Fifth in Sky Bet League One

Competing in Sky Bet League One for a second successive season, Sunderland will be aiming to bounce back from Play-Off disappointment under the Wembley Stadium arch.

Having concluded the campaign fifth in the third-tier after suffering back-to-back relegations, the Black Cats were beaten 2-1 by Charlton Athletic to miss out on a Sky Bet Championship return.

From their 46 fixtures, Jack Ross’ men won 22, drew 19 and lost five to earn 85 points throughout the 2018/19 term.

Falkirk-born Ross was appointed as Sunderland manager in May 2018, replacing Chris Coleman on Wearside.

During his first year with Sunderland, the North East outfit compete in two Wembley Stadium Finals, losing them both – the Checkatrade Trophy to Portsmouth and the Play-Off Final.

Overseeing an automatic promotion challenge, Ross will be hoping his players can go one better and secure a return up to the second-tier at the second time of asking.

As a player, Ross began his career as a youth apprentice at Dundee and Forfar Athletic before moving onto Camelon Juniors.

In 1999, Ross switched to Clyde, where he earned promotion from the Scottish Second Division in his first year, making 159 league appearances prior to leaving for Hartlepool United in 2004.

He spent 2004/05 at Victoria Park, featuring 23 times for the Pools and transferred to hometown team Falkirk in 2005 as he returned to Scotland.

In three-years with the Bairns, Ross played 76 games before a further 64 appearances followed in a St Mirren shirt, who he represented from 2008-2010.

Bringing his days as a player to an end with stints at Hamilton Academical and Dunfermline Athletic, the one-time Scotland B international moved into coaching with Dumbarton and Heart of Midlothian.

In December 2015, Ross took charge of Alloa Athletic, his first management position, guiding them to a 10-game winning streak at the start of 2016/17, taking up the St Mirren vacancy in October 2016.

Ross ensured St Mirren’s safety in the Scottish Championship and would lead the Saints to promotion back to the top-flight as champions in 2017/18.

The 43-year-old’s success north of the border would see him appointed boss at Sunderland last May.

Micky Mellon’s Tranmere will head to the Stadium of Light on Tuesday 22nd October and are due to host the Black Cats at Prenton Park on Tuesday 28th January.

Tranmere have a good record against Sunderland, winning nine, drawing two and losing six of the meetings between the two sides.

The last time TRFC played the Black Cats was in an FA Cup fourth-round tie at Prenton Park in January 2000, with Wayne Allison’s winner sealing the result in Rovers’ favour on the Wirral.


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