‘A great style of football, working on a budget and restoring a bond between club and fans’ - the view from St Mirren on Ross
- Credit: Archant
We asked St Mirren fan David MacDonald, editor of the Black and White Army website, for his views on Jack Ross, as the odds tumble on him becoming the next Ipswich Town boss.
St Mirren boss Jack Ross is now the odds-on favourite with the bookmakers for the Ipswich Town job after his odds were cut dramatically over night,
The 41-year-old, who led St Mirren to the Scottish Championship title last season, is 1/4 with SkyBet for the vacancy, with Shrewsbury’s Paul Hurst drifting out to 6/1.
It is thought the Scot is having talks with the Blues today, with owner Marcus Evans initially stating he hoped to make an appointment at the ‘end of May or beginning of June.
We asked St Mirren fan David MacDonald, editor of the Black & White Army website for his views on Ross, who has been a hit during his time with the Paisley club.
How would you describe his style of play?
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DM: He plays a great style of football and is a very attack-minded manager, so if you look at some of the games we did lose last season you will find we lost heavily. That’s because Jack chased the game so, if you’re 1-0 down, he’s not one of these managers who will sit back. He’s go for it, so sometimes we did lose 3-0 or 4-0. He’ll chase a game.
But his style is all about quick passing and attacking. We played one up front but with two just behind, so almost with a front three and sometimes with three behind, so it became really fluid and a pleasing style football on the eye.
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The fans really enjoyed it and that wasn’t the case under the manager we had had before Jack (Alex Rae) so it was kind of a breath of fresh air.
We didn’t play with a very physical side last season and it was noted we had quite a small side, especially in the final third where our strikers were all quite small. That’s testament to the fact there weren’t a lot of balls played into the box, it was all trying to get in behind with balls into feet to then cut inside and shoot.
It’s a good style of play but whether that’s his entire philosophy or just the style he played because it suited the players and division we were in, I don’t know.
We only really had him for one full season with his own players, but I suppose if you look back at the second half of last season when he rebuilt the squad in January it was pretty similar then. We’ve never been a long ball side under Jack.
How was Jack able to work in terms of recruitment?
DM: Last January, when we were rooted to the bottom of the league, he shipped 10 players out and brought 10 in, and that’s really hard to do during the January window.
We are not a club who pays transfer fees and in the second tier in Scotland you are looking at frees, loans and that sort of market.
He used the loan market pretty well and brought a few in. He didn’t go outside the UK much and brought in one player from Norway (Pal Fjelde) who didn’t play all that much. It was really Jack using his contacts in and around Scotland, although Jack did bring some up from down south as well.
Last summer he didn’t have to do a huge amount because the core of the team was already there. Budget-wise we probably had the second or third biggest budget in the league last season, behind Dundee United, Inverness and possibly Falkirk, so we were there-or-there abouts and probably should have been in the top half of the league with that. We were coming from a position where we had only survived on the last day of last season, though.
We’re not a club who will spend money on fees. It would be free transfers and signing on fees at most.
Has he helped young players progress?
DM: Last January (2017) we sold Kyle McAllister to Derby and Jack gave him games before he left and Stevie Mallan (22) was sold to Barnsley last summer. He lost his way a little bit before Jack came in and from then on he was a standout player last season. Jack really brought him on.
Then we sold Lewis Morgan to Celtic and loaned him back, so those three players left for the best part of £1million. That’s a lot of money up here and Jack helped them all progress.
Players find his training really refreshing because it’s modern and enjoyable – they love working with him.
He can keep a squad of players happy, even those who weren’t playing, and he has consistent team selections without chopping and changing. He has high expectations.
What has been the reaction to Ipswich’s interest among St Mirren fans?
DM: When Barnsley came in for him during the middle of last season, people were a bit upset about it because we thought it could scupper or push for promotion, but there is a bit more realism now about Ipswich. People of my age remember Ipswich as a huge club in the 1980s and still one much bigger than us now. We understand the Championship is one of the top four or five most wealthy leagues in Europe so we understand it’s a big, big move for him.
If he goes, we’ll all be gutted, but will wish him the best because of what he’s done for us. We know he’s seriously ambitious and we know he wants to push on. Whether this is the right time, time will tell.
Do you think he would want to try his hand in the Scottish top flight before moving to England?
DM: Yes and no. I think with the best will in the world, even as the most ardent St Mirren fan, we are going to go up to that league and the potential is we are going to struggle and be in the bottom half of that league.
I hope that’s not the case and I hope Jack does stay and has us challenging for the top half of the league, but the disparity in budget between us, the two Glasgow clubs, the two Edinburgh clubs and Aberdeen means that’s most of the top six miles and miles ahead of us in terms of spending.
What I think he might be thinking is that it’s going to be a big, big challenge for him in that league so now might be a good time for him to go because he’s leaving on a high.
If he goes down to England and it doesn’t work out then he will still come back to a good job in Scotland like Derek McInnes did when he went to Bristol City, failed, and still got the Aberdeen job. That’s the third biggest job in Scotland, probably, and he’s been here ever since. I know Aberdeen were very interested in Jack last year when McInnes was linked with Sunderland and Rangers so he has a lot of suitors.
I think he will go down south eventually but it’s whether this is the right time. From Ipswich’s point of view it’s a risk because he’s only got two years of management experience.
How does he interact with supporters?
DM: Almost the best thing that Jack did for us was, at time when the relationship between the fans and the club and the players wasn’t particularly healthy, over the last 15 months really bond that relationship.
The whole club is completely united and he’s played a massive part in that. Things going better on the pitch helps but the way in which he conducts himself is brilliant.
He takes time out to attend fan functions, to engage with the supporters, and the way he talks to the media is really good. He talks really well.
If he sits down in front of you he’s a very impressive individual. He’s not like a lot of football managers who are just full of clichés – he thinks about what he says and what he says makes a lot of sense.
The whole club is in a really good place, we’re back in the top flight and he has had us going the right way.
He’s a really good guy.