Jack Ross says he wants his players to play with pace and dynamism – and help turn the Stadium of Light into somewhere that opposition players will be scared of.
New Sunderland manager Ross is in the early stages of rebuilding the first-team squad as he settles into his first full week in the job.
Having earned a reputation as one of the brightest young coaches in Scotland, Ross quickly became Stewart Donald’s No 1 choice for the Black Cats role after glowing references on the style of football the 41-year-old had St Mirren playing north of the border.
Ross’s side became renowned for their tempo and verve as St Mirren stormed to the Championship title, scoring bags of goals with a young, vibrant squad.
The new Black Cats boss would like to see Sunderland play in a similar style, though he says he is happy to tinker with his football philosophy depending on the circumstances as Sunderland adapt to life in League One.
However, he says a team playing with high energy and on the front foot is vital if Sunderland are to succeed next season.
“I think that I’ve always been conscious as a manager not to pin myself down into playing one particular way,” said Ross.
“You have to be adaptable but you also want core aspects to how you do things and that is probably been reflected in all the teams that I’ve managed.
“They’ve all had an energy about them, a pace about them, they’ve been dynamic.
“Of course, it’s a challenge to get the players we need to be capable of playing in that manner but I think it is important for us to try and play that way. It suits what we have in terms of our stadium and our facilities.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to trying to create.”
Having a side that can excite the home crowd and bring winning football back to the Stadium of Light is vital if Sunderland are to get out of the third tier at the first attempt.
St Mirren won 14 of their 18 home games as they romped to the title, scoring 37 goals in the process.
In contrast, Sunderland fans have had little to cheer about in recent years with research by Your-Promotional-Code.co.uk claiming that they have the worst home record of the 92 League clubs over the past decade.
The Stadium of Light is the easiest place to take points off a home team, with Sunderland averaging just 1.15 points each time they play host. The Black Cats also have the poorest home goal difference – conceding 254 goals in 193 home games, their goal difference stands at a miserable -34.
It’s a trend Ross nows he will have to reverse, and he wants to turn the Stadium of Light into an intimidating place for opposition players to perform in.
“To be successful in any league, your home form has to be a cornerstone of that,” he said. “It’s something that have you to get right.
“If we get that right, because of who we are, it will become hugely powerful and it will make it very difficult for teams who come here.
“You don’t want it to be enjoyable for teams, when the facilities are so good it can be for opposition teams, they look forward to it.
“So you want to make sure that when the game starts they don’t enjoy it, they’re smothered by it.
“It’s a challenge for us but certainly not an impossible one.