EVEN in the short space of seven months, Jack Ross is feeling differently and more confident about landing the transfer targets he has in mind as a direct result of the good work on and off the pitch at Sunderland.

Even though Ross had his busiest summer in football management after agreeing to take over on Wearside, he now admits that it was not as easy as he had envisaged to persuade players follow him.

After two successive relegations, a change of owner and manager, plus whispers of the majority of the squad asking in some degree to leave, it is understandable potential recruits were being put off by the predicament the club found itself in; but no more.

Now Ross, if he wanted to mix up the promotion chasing squad he has assembled, has got the impression things have already taken a turn for the better. Would-be targets are fancying a crack at life at Sunderland.

He said: “The general feeling around the club has changed since the summer.

“There may have been players who were concerned by what happened in recent seasons, what lay ahead with a change of ownership, but now players recognise this is a fabulous opportunity. It makes it easier for me. The challenge of persuading players to come has lessened.”

Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne has arrived on loan from Burnley this week, an offer has been made for Wigan striker Will Grigg and there is interest in Celtic’s playmaker Lewis Morgan.

Whoever he can agree deals for, Ross is in a happier place in being able to convince them that being part of Sunderland’s revival – even if it was just as part of this season’s promotion charge – is a risk worth taking.

He said: “I do think there has been a change of perception of the club from outside, I understand that and I sense that.

“In terms of the size of the club, the training ground here, the stadium, those things have been here and will always be here, but there has been a myth about what direction the club might have been going.

“It’s problems were being talked about, so it can undoubtedly lead to players questioning if they want to go there. To everyone on the outside now, hopefully everyone is starting to think the club is turning in the right direction again. That’s the reality as well. That helps.

“If we are trying to persuade players this is the right place then it has become easier, it was a more difficult sell in the summer that’s for sure.

“Without giving much thought to it, I’d have expected people falling over themselves to come like I was. There has been a lot of structural changes which has helped too.

“Word has spread quickly across football, people have realised what we were going through here and to get where we have already.

“It was difficult to understand when I first came in how it was viewed by people. Now I think things are in place to help sell to people how great a place it is.”

Persuading transfer targets has been a historic issue, and the answer was often to offer more cash than others in a bid to attract them to Wearside. During the Premier League era that was certainly the case, and contributed hugely to them being in a financial mess leading to former owner Ellis Short selling up.

Ross said: “Anything that has gone on in the past, and I wasn’t here so I don’t know, but there will have been players who came here with the right intentions.

“Cultural changes get talked about a lot as well but they can take two or three years in other industries to implement. In football you have to do that pretty quickly, you don’t get the time. In just over six months we are doing well at that here.

“I have a group of players who, if you speak to people around this club, fit at this club.

“Moving forward for us, and I would love it to be under me through the levels, there will be different recruitment needed for the different levels and I think we need a certain character, a person, a template.

“If you get it right they can flourish in this environment.”