UNDER-FIRE Jack Ross made no excuses and was eager to take responsibility for his team’s poor performance in Saturday’s deserved defeat at Lincoln City

His theme after the match was very much based on taking the brunt of the blame, diverting attention away from his players and saying what happened on the pitch reflected badly on him.

He took the same stance a fortnight ago at Bolton Wanderers, when Sunderland played poorly and scraped a 1-1 draw, but there was no point this time around with the Imps well worth their 2-0 win.

Ross delivered an honest appraisal, admitting Sunderland were nowhere near good enough.

He said: “We got absolutely what we deserved from today’s game.

“It’s not just about not playing well in possession, we didn’t do the basics and fundamentals of the game right, which means being physical and competitive.

“I accept any time we don’t win we’ll get criticised and sometimes I’ve been defensive about that and been justified in being defensive, but today any criticism I or we get is deserved because that was nowhere near good enough, not just for Sunderland but for any football team.

“I’ve managed a lot of games now and I’ve not had many of them in terms of seeing a team being so far away from what you need to be like to win games.”

Lincoln, backed by vociferous fans and the largest attendance at Sincil Bank since the ground became all-seated, made an explosive start, keeping the Black Cats in their own half for lengthy spells.

“That is often going to be the case when we come away from home and it’s a big game for the opposition,” added Ross.

“We’ve had a lot of experience now over the last season and a bit. We’ve got to be strong enough to stand up to that in that period, we didn’t do that and then we didn’t react to going behind.”

Lincoln scored in half and also missed a penalty, Tyler Walker scoring both goals, and Ross explained the biggest factor in his team under-performing was not being competitive enough.

He said: “It’s about the most obvious and basic part of the game, which is the same whether it’s amateur football, semi-pro or the highest level you can get to, it’s about being competitive and working hard and running about.

“I know that sounds incredibly basic but it’s true.

“People talk about tactics and systems and personnel selection, but if you don’t do that part of the game (working hard) you’ve got no chance.

“I’ll always say it’s my responsibility, I’m the manager so it’s my job to motivate and prepare players properly and today was not good enough for me.

“That team and that performance was miles way from being good enough to win games.

“You can discount the last part of the game because we were throwing bodies forward, and in some ways it’s easy to do that at that time because you’ve got nothing to lose.

“You look at the first 70 minutes of the game and we were so poor in everything that we did in and out of possession.

“It was as disappointing as I’ve seen us, probably, and it’s very obvious to say that we need to be so much better than that to win games in this league.

“That level of performance, it’s my responsibility and it wasn’t good enough.”

Having previously been at Alloa and St Mirren, Sunderland became Ross’ third managerial job when he took charge in the summer of 2018 and Saturday was his tenth defeat in 75 games.

He added: “I take pride in what I’ve done in my management career and generally in the teams I’ve put on the park and the record I’ve had as a manager.

“There’s been very few occasions, there has been a few, when I’ve been disappointed in what I’ve managed to do.

“I keep saying me, I keep protecting my players from it because it’s me, it’s my job to make them better than they were today.”