Jack Ross: New Sunderland manager must 'hit ground running' - Alex Rae

James Fowler and Jack Ross with the Scottish Championship trophy
Jack Ross, right, and assistant James Fowler are moving from St Mirren to Sunderland

Former Sunderland midfielder and St Mirren boss Alex Rae believes a strong start will be vital for new manager Jack Ross at the Stadium of Light.

Ross, 41, leaves the Buddies for English League One side Sunderland having signed a two-year deal.

Rae, his predecessor at St Mirren, says the Scot will have "a point to prove" to a Black Cats fan base that has witnessed successive relegations.

"The new board see Jack as the man to take the club forward," Rae said.

"The club has had several big names in terms of David Moyes, Steve Bruce, Mick McCarthy - recognised names.

Alex Rae on the attack for Sunderland
Rae spent five years with Sunderland, amassing over a century of appearances

"Jack is coming in from Scotland and will have to prove a point but knowing Jack, he's got the confidence to do that.

"The key thing is how he hits the ground. If he can hit it running, he has a great opportunity - it is a fantastic club with an unbelievable fan base."

'He'll get the finances to bounce straight back'

In his first season in charge, Ross helped struggling St Mirren avoid relegation to Scottish League One.

He led them to the Championship title in his second campaign, winning promotion to Scotland's top flight, and PFA Scotland's Manager of the Year award.

Sunderland have suffered back-to-back demotions, dropping from the Premier League to the third tier of English football.

Jack Ross and Alex Rae on the Paisley 2021 Stadium touchline
Jack Ross and Alex Rae managed against each other in 2016 when Ross' Alloa Athletic faced Rae's St Mirren

Rae, who made over 100 Black Cats appearances between 1996 and 2001, expects Ross to be armed with a substantial budget for recruitment and wages by new owner, Stewart Donald.

"He'll get the finances to try and bounce straight out of the division," Rae, 48, told BBC Scotland.

"With the greatest respect to the other clubs in that division, there are clubs there with 3-4,000 fans every week. If Jack can get them going the right way, they could have 30-35,000 within a short period of time.

"Sunderland probably wanted an up-and-coming manager with a lot of endeavour to get them out of that division."

Neilson, McIntyre or Hopkin for Buddies?

Rae believes St Mirren should consider former Hearts boss Robbie Neilson and ex-Ross County manager, both of whom are currently without a job, as well as Livingston's Premiership promotion-winning supremo David Hopkin in their quest to replace Ross.

Robbie Neilson in the Hearts technical area
Robbie Neilson led Hearts to the Scottish Championship title in 2015

"Robbie Neilson did a brilliant job at Hearts, he won the Championship and left them in second place in the top flight," Rae said.

"Jim McIntyre won a cup at Ross County. You've got David Hopkin, back-to-back promotions at [Livingston], who will most certainly be on the radar."

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