Jack Ross is happy to welcome the pressure that comes with being early contenders for the Ladbrokes League 1 title – despite Alloa’s part-time status.
The Wasps manager scooped Ladbrokes League 1’s Manager of the Month award for August after a scintillating start to his first full campaign as a boss, while star striker Jordan Kirkpatrick claimed the player’s accolade.
He took over the club last December but was unable to stop them sliding out of the Championship despite an impressive turn in form.
Ross has wasted no time strengthening his squad over the summer and has been rewarded with the continuation of a 19-game unbeaten run, while Alloa started the season with a club record of 10 consecutive wins.
They were league leaders before losing to Livingston at the weekend, but the perfect August means Alloa are firmly among those mentioned as potential title winners.
And despite full-time teams – like Livi and Airdrie – achieving automatic promotion from League One every season for the last four years, Ross welcomes the challenge.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes News, Ross said: “It shows you the size of the task ahead for any part-time team to win it.
“Expectation has been placed upon us by so many people predicting we’d be there or thereabouts.
“But I’m happy with it. There’s an ambition within our group and you can’t have that without accepting the expectancy around it. There’s got to be a pressure on yourself to reach your standards.
“The full-time teams don’t have a huge advantage in terms of physical fitness – a lot of part-time players look after themselves really well.
“They do have an advantage with their preparation just simply on the hours to spend with their players.
“That’s not complaining about it, that’s just the reality. In an ideal world, would I like more hours with my players? Of course I would. We have to squeeze a lot into four hours a week like every part-time manager has to do.
“But that’s the challenge, and I don’t complain about it as I knew the situation I was going into when I took the job.
“We manage it in the right way and if we keep doing it we make ourselves competitive against these full time teams.”
August’s Manager of the Month award is a first for Ross just 10 months into his managerial career.
He established himself as a player before taking on coaching jobs at Dumbarton and Hearts.
And while taking pride in the award, he highlighted how big the club and his backroom staff have been.
Ross added: “It’s the first award of this type for me and you must take pride in any individual award.
“Sometimes, especially in this country, you play things down and say you’re not really that bothered.
“But it’s a great feeling for me and a reflection of what everyone is doing.
“It’s a really good club to work for – I’ve got a great relationship with the chairman and there are people around the club, from training days to match days, who give up their time for nothing and are a tremendous help.
“The backroom staff I inherited and the ones I added are all very good characters. They are aligned with how I try to approach things. They have to put up with my slightly OCD nature at times as well.
“I’ve been on the other side of it where I’ve been an assistant and managers get the reward, but we’ve not had the recognition.
“I do know that they’ll take pleasure in it and be fully aware that they’ve played a huge part.”
League sponsors Ladbrokes have Ross’ Alloa priced as favourites at 10/11 to win the League 1 title.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.