Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anti-Ross Chants Show What a Heavy Weight of Expectation Hangs over Sunderland

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anti-Ross Chants Show What a Heavy Weight of Expectation Hangs over Sunderland

Article excerpt

IF any club could do with a free hit, it is Sunderland.

The Black Cats travel to Premier League Sheffield United tonight for a League Cup tie with pressure mounting at the Stadium of Light.

Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers felt significant for the way the majority of the 4,000 away fans turned on their manager, Jack Ross.

There have been grumblings before, the odd boo, but it felt like things went up a notch as they chanted, "You don't know what you're doing!" with some joining home supporters in singing, "You're getting sacked in the morning!" Given Sunderland have not lost either of their last two games - though they have only won one of the last four - it highlighted the expectations on Wearside.

Nine matches in, the Black Cats are fifth in League One, seven ahead of where last season's champions, Luton Town were at the same stage - but the Wearside public wants more.

As the big fish of the division, Sunderland are expected to win every game.

Actually being the underdogs for once should be a nice break.

At Burnley in the last round they produced possibly their best performance under Ross, coming from 1-0 down to beat a side featuring England internationals Joe Hart, Aaron Lennon and Danny Drinkwater 3-1. Drawing with struggling Bolton was one thing but surely no one will criticise them for failing to defeat a Sheffield United side who appear to have found their top-flight feet.

James Fowler, Sunderland's assistant manager, argued: "Mentalitywise there's a little bit of a shift because there is a bit of an expectation Sheffield United win the game, as there was an expectation that Burnley would win the game because of where they were in leagues apart. As Sunderland players there is an expectation on them every week to win in this division, so it helps them.

"I've been there as a player myself and there is a bit less pressure; you do feel a little bit less tense and that sometimes translates onto the pitch.

"Hopefully, we can put on a performance first and foremost and try to win the game. …

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