AFTER seasons of decline and a lack of communication from the very top, Sunderland is a different football club today.

Manager Jack Ross and chairman Stewart Donald have both been open and honest with supporters and the media from day one.

While Donald steers the club towards stability off the pitch, Ross is leading them to success on it.

Five successive wins has put the Black Cats into second spot in League One. And Stewart, in stark contrast to previous owner Ellis Short, has been out and about meeting supporters at a talk-in in South Shields last week.

There’s a healthy relationship between chairman and manager, equally a warm relationship between the terrace faithful and club figureheads.

“It sometimes lets me fly under the radar a little bit!’’ joked Ross of his chairman’s public outlook. “I’ve said before I like Stewart, he was here last week and I was here at the training ground until 8pm, not that we were speaking about anything particularly exciting – but I like his company and how he comes across.

“The big thing for me is when I listen to him in the media is that how he comes across is how he is.

“I know he has said it before, but the things he says in the media he says to me, there’s nothing hidden from anyone.

“I think it’s refreshing, people have different opinions. For me, he’s helped me settle in here as he’s helped create a positive aura around the club and what comes across is a genuine ambition n to help this club progress.

“Bring transparent certainly hasn’t made my job difficult at any time.’’

Ross, an engaging and thoughtful defender in his playing days, has almost three years managerial experience under his belt on top of 12 years playing in Scotland and, briefly in England with Hartlepool United.

He is happy to see the divide between club and supporters be removed and wants the fans onside as he turns around fortunes. Last time Sunderland were in the third tier of English football it was only for one season; Ross hopes for the same again this time.

Nominated for the League One manager of the month award for October, Ross added: “I think in football, both ownership and management, the separation is one of the facet which has grown in recent times, the separation between press and manager, supporters of the club and players has become fragmented and it wasn’t always like that.

“I know things have changed and the days have probably gone when you walk into the butchers and the guy who is your striker is in there too – and that’s probably never going to come back.

“But there’s nothing wrong with looking at why people get seduced by football and it’s easy to see why. I think maybe that’s part of the reason I appealed to Stewart as a manager was because I did that at my previous club, I’m a big advocate of being open and putting myself out there and I feel it’s a big part of the job.

“Opinions and engagement with people who are very passionate about the club is vital – I’m only a custodian and doing the job for a certain period of time. People will be around a lot longer than me, but I think it’s refreshing what he has done.

“It will be interesting to see if more people follow suit in the future. OK, it’s positive around the club right now and it’s important to maintain that level of communication in more challenging times.’’

Football paid tribute to Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha last weekend following his tragic death in a helicopter crash.

And Ross believes the club owner playing such a positive role in the city and community can only be a positive thing.

The manager said: “You have seen the reaction to the tragic circumstances at Leicester and how people have struggled to come to terms with that. The chairman had an impact on a lot of lives, and that’s away from football too and I imagine a lot of that he did wasn’t even public knowledge.

“Engagement helps grow your football club as a whole and there’s so many different parts to it. Stewart is a very genuine guy and I think it would be very difficult for him to hold anything back because of the way he speaks.’’