JACK Ross is one of the up and coming Managers in Scottish Football.
Having initially started improving the fortunes in his nine month spell at Alloa, Ross has taken St Mirren from the bottom of the Championship in October 2016 to favourites for promotion to the Premiership inside the last fifteen months. Understandably, his name is being linked with higher profile jobs, such as Aberdeen before Derek McInnes opted to stay at Pittodrie instead of a move to Rangers.
This week, it has emerged that he is a leading candidate to take over the managerial vacancy at English Championship Barnsley and, according to BBC Sportsound Kenny McIntyre, has held talks with the Yorkshire outfit, who recently lost Paul Heckingbottom to Leeds this month. Ross is now joint favourite according to McBookie, who have placed the Buddies Gaffer as 2/1 alongside Swansea coach Cameron Toshack, to make the switch to England.
Should he be offered the position, Jack Ross has a major decision to make on whether to strike whilst the irons hot and take the move to England, or hold off in order to achieve his ambition to end St Mirren’s three year wait for top flight football.
With only little more than two years experience as a manager in Scotland’s lower leagues, it would be a massive gamble for Ross to swap a title challenge in Scotland’s second tier to a relegation battle in the English equivalent. Barnsley have dropped into the bottom three in recent weeks and face a difficult battle to escape dropping into League One. If Ross took the job at Oakwell and oversaw relegation, the pressure would immediately intensify on him in a country where sacking managers is rife. So far, 31 managers have lost their jobs across the four major leagues in England, with only nine of those lasting longer than a year in the job.
One of those managers who lasted barely more than twelve months in his role was Robbie Neilson. He left Hearts after guiding them second in the table in December 2016 to take the reins at League One MK Dons, stating his ambition to manage in England and proclaiming MK Dons as a good platform to build his reputation down south. Last month, he was given his P45 after his side fell into the relegation zone. The Neilson story emphasises that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and should act as a warning to Jack Ross before he jumps too soon and not seeing the bigger picture past the pound signs that, naturally, act as a big incentive to cross the border for another job.
Ross has a good job at St Mirren where he is learning his trade well and they have a good thing going with the prospect of promotion to the Premiership, with a commanding 14 point lead over pre-season favourites Dundee United, albeit having played a game more. He is adored by the Buddies faithful after a difficult start to his tenure and they are heading in the right direction on and off the park.
It can also be argued that Ross would be more likely to land a more lucrative job than Barnsley should he stay put in Paisley to oversee their journey to the top flight. The case of Alex Neil is a good reference point. He took Hamilton to promotion via the playoffs in 2014 and saw them make a tremendous impression in the top flight, leaving them in fourth position six months later to take over at Norwich City, where he earned promotion to the Premier League within five months of moving to Carrow Road.
Ross would be more likely to earn a better job by continuing the good work at St Mirren rather than move before he is ready, and he needs experience in managing in Scotland’s top flight before he considers a switch to England’s second tier, especially to a club struggling to avoid relegation. Yes he will earn a better wage at Barnsley and have more money to spend, but Barnsley have one of the smaller budgets in the Championship and has less time to keep their heads above water than he had when he took the St Mirren job, plus he doesn’t have the luxury of the transfer window to make immediate changes at Oakwell.
There is no doubt that Jack Ross is a manager on the up and it would be good to see him follow the footsteps of many Scottish managers who have went to English Football and become a success South of the Border. However, timing is also important and now is not the right time as he is very close to achieving promotion with St Mirren, something that seemed a million miles away 15 months ago.
Once he achieves his goal of taking St Mirren back to the promised land and established themselves back in the top flight, then Jack Ross can look to make the next step in his promising managerial career.