SOMETIMES no words are required to convey someone’s true emotion.

Sunderland had just recorded their first win of the season, 2-1 against Portsmouth on Saturday at the Stadium of Light, and it was a relief for everyone of a red and white persuasion.

Jack Ross was asked after the game by a member of the media how important the win had been for the supporters and for himself. He smiled, thought briefly about his response, there was a short pause and a chuckle.

It was a telling moment. Without saying a word he had said everything.

He then proceeded to trot out a standard answer straight from the League Managers Association media training manual, saying: “For me it was just three points in the quest to achieve promotion.”

But Ross knew the truth. Everyone did. The crowd’s roar at full-time made it clear how important the win had been.

Only three games into the season, this huge victory, the Black Cats’ first three-point haul of the campaign, relieved some of the pressure on the team and Ross.

While his job had not been under immediate threat, Huddersfield Town’s sacking of Jan Siewert on Friday night demonstrated the pressure on clubs to make a good start to a season, and by common consensus Sunderland’s had been underwhelming.

After two disappointing performances in the league – draws with Oxford United and Ipswich Town – the pressure was on and meeting a fellow promotion contender made for a test of Sunderland which they passed.

Ross said: “We have said often enough about the expectancy and pressure on us to win every single game, so I’m delighted to win, I’m always delighted to win and it’s why I’m in the game.

“It’s why I work daily, to produce a winning team and I’ve managed to produce that today.

“The pressure is omnipresent, and it never goes away whether you’ve won five games in a row or lost five games in a row, it never really changes.

“In terms of how you use it, well you make peace with it first and foremost.

“When you’re a football manager you’re always going to have pressure, the profession that you’re in always bring it.

“You’ve got a choice about how much pressure you want to feel – if you don’t want big pressure then don’t manage a big club.

“But if you don’t manage a big club you wouldn’t get the rewards, like leading a team in this stadium with these supporters and how good it feels when you win a game. You can’t have one without the other.”

It was not simply that Sunderland won, it was the manner of victory that put a smile on faces, fighting back from going a goal behind, then showing a resilience to hang on to the lead when Portsmouth piled on the pressure.

For the third time in as many league games Sunderland conceded first, Marcus Harness applying the finish on 22 minutes when Portsmouth were allowed to attack down the middle of the pitch after a misplaced Max Power pass.

He had kept his place in midfield alongside Grant Leadbitter after both had played their part in the midweek win at Accrington Stanley in the League Cup and was otherwise effective, but the pass gave Portsmouth possession and Harness’s pace opened up the Black Cats

He stabbed home after a couple of ricochets in Sunderland’s penalty area, but a theme of Ross’ reign is an unfortunate predilection for conceding first before fighting back and this time they took just five minutes to respond.

At a Leadbitter corner, Jordan Willis attacked the ball at the near post and directed a downwards header away from goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray to score a goal that lifted the mood.

“There were attributes we recognised in Jordan when bringing him to the club and one of them was, despite not being a huge centre-half, he has a good spring,” said Ross.

“He attacks the ball very well, we know he can do that in both boxes.

“And when you have Grant in the side you have a consistency and quality of delivery.”

The stadium had been subdued – early kick-offs often not conducive to a buzzing atmosphere – but the goal was met by a huge roar.

Ross added: “If I was Kenny Jackett I would be delighted with the start of the game because they played well and scored in that period.

“If we had gone to Fratton Park we would want to silence the crowd, and get them anxious and frustrated. Thankfully for us any period of frustration didn’t last long because we equalised so quickly.

“So that was a big part of the game because up until that point we hadn’t played particularly well or created an awful lot. Thankfully we kicked on from that point.”

Encouraged by the equaliser, Sunderland went ahead before half-time with three Ms combining: McNulty, McGeady and Maguire.

Marc McNulty had found a position on the left where he passed to Aiden McGeady, and his low cross found Chris Maguire ghosting in to complete a simple goal that owed everything to vision and movement.

“The chance was like Lynden Gooch’s last week,” said Ross. “I know it looks simple and straightforward, but it’s not. You have to concentrate and have composure.”

The third goal had come from the third shot on target and there would be no more in a game of few chances with little between the sides, which should not be surprising given that this was their sixth meeting since September.

Familiarity breeds contempt, so they say, and Sunderland’s fans certainly enjoyed getting one over Pompey, who beat them at Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final.

They also revelled in seeing striker John Marquis, a former Sunderland target, screw a shot horribly wide with only Jon McLaughlin to beat.

The assured goalkeeper provides a level of security and confidence, as demonstrated by repeatedly catching Portsmouth’s high balls when the visitors had the Cats under the cosh, though he did have one save to make in the second half…from Leadbitter.

The experienced midfielder got his head on the end of a Portsmouth cross and almost scored a Keith Houchen-style diving header until McLaughlin leapt to the rescue.

In front of him Alim Ozturk and Willis were solid at centre-back, and having tried various partnerships Ross will surely give these two a run together.

Ross added: “We made the decision to freshen things on Tuesday and change the way we played the game, and that gave an opportunity to Alim to come in and play well.

“He did that on Tuesday and he continued that again today.

“As a manager you want healthy competition for places, you players to feel they have to keep performing to keep possession of the jersey and that’s what the players have done today.”

While Sunderland tired and back-peddled in the closing stages, they had enough about them to claim the points, and can now looked forward to Tuesday at Rochdale with confidence.

“We’ve won a ridiculously big number of points from losing positions over the course of the last 13 months, but we can’t keep doing that, we know it,” added Ross.

“But we’ve also got the strength of character and resilience in the squad, so it’s pleasing.”