In case you missed it, Simon Grayson timed his first interview since being dismissed from the Stadium of Light perfectly - for the day his successor Chris Coleman is due to be announced.
Speaking on Radio FiveLive’s Sportsweek programme this morning, the man dismissed from Sunderland on Halloween gave his thoughts on why he took the job, what went wrong, what the wider problems are at the club and Chris Coleman’s prospects for doing better than he did.
Grayson - victim of a rotten regime, out of his depth, on a hiding to nothing? You decide.
On what went wrong during his Sunderland tenure
I don’t think it’s unmanageable, I think it’s a big proposition for anyone to go and manage that football club because of where it’s been, the fanbase etc. I went there because I thought it was a new challenge for me. Obviously I was at Preston for four-and-a-half years and I thought it was another opportunity for me to go to another big club.
I did realise it was going to be a lot of problems but I wanted to have those challenges in front of me and obviously when you go into a job you incur other problems as you go along. It wasn’t an easy job and obviously I suffered the consequences of not winning enough matches and ultimately not being given enough time to turn it around.
As a manager now you know you’re judged on results - they weren’t good enough and a team like Sunderland shouldn’t be in the bottom three when I left them and circumstances dictated that at times we had a few injuries but you can’t use that as just the only excuse.
There was a lot of negativity around the place but we thought we were slowly turning things round. If you talk to anyone who was at the training ground there was a vibe, there was a positivity around the place.
What we found more difficult was transferring that positivity to the Stadium of Light where there’s been a lot of negativity and poor results over a number of years now.
On how much he had to spend in the summer...
I knew that the basics were there would have to be players sold to balance the books and I think that just comes with the territory of a team being relegated from the Premier League. One, you have to do it for the finances but also players didn’t want to be there and it was going to be a turnaround of players leaving and new ones coming in, time to gel and then I think you still need another couple of windows to get the balance right in the squad.
I knew we weren’t going to have money to spend but I’ve never had huge amounts of money to spend at clubs that I’ve worked at previously. We brought in 12 players for £1.2m and £50m was brought in through players sold from the football club.
I knew there wasn’t going to be lots of money and I wasn’t ever going to complain about that. We paid some good money on wages for players like Marc Wilson and Lewis Grabban and one or two other players came in like McGeady. I thought we brought in some very talented players who would help the football club and one or two players coming back from injury would help us - Paddy McNair has just returned. Duncan Watmore has just returned. So on paper there was a decent squad there but trying to transfer that positivity from the training ground to the matchday situation was the most difficult thing we tried to achieve.
On the decision to join Sunderland in the summer
I’d a real comfortable job at Preston -four-and-a-half years there but I saw it as the next step and a big challenge at a real big football club and even now I don’t regret my decision to leave because I didn’t want to look back in 4 or 5 months time and say ‘I wish I’d taken that job’. I was excited by it and I did think and genuinely believed - with myself and my staff - that we would be able to turn around what had been a poor run of results and turn it into a positive situation.
On Ellis Short & Martin Bain
I met him [Ellis Short] when I was interviewed for the job, met him first game of the season after we drew with Derby and that was the last I heard from him or saw of him. He moved to America, I don’t think he has much in terms of day to day running of the club or watching of the club. Obviously Martin Bain, the chief executive, who I got on really well with was the one I spoke closely with on many occasions.
[Ellis Short] moved to America for family reasons and getting his business situation sorted. I had no issues with that because I was working very closely with Martin Bain but in his defence he [Short] has put £250m into that football club and is still funding it now. That’s a hell of a lot of money to invest in a business and I think it’s been mis-managed for many different reasons and there’s been a lot of money wasted over the years in different areas of the football club. Certainly there comes a point where enough is enough for somebody to keep financing to the level that he has done.
On the turnover of managers at Sunderland
There’s been some very good managers, going back to Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Dick Advocaat, Gus Poyet, Sam Allardyce - the list is endless of top, top managers but no one has been able to really grasp hold of the football club and take it to a level where everyone demands in the north east. Obviously the rivalry with Newcastle and the passionate supporters demand success but none of those managers who have been very, very good managers have been able to do it so I can’t give you a reason why that hasn’t happened for many, many managers.
On Chris Coleman
I think Chris [Coleman] has done a fantastic job for Wales and decided that he wants to get back into club management and he’ll have seen it exactly as I saw it - that it’s a big football club and you feel that you’re the right person to be able to turn it around and that’s what he’ll try and do.
I think the biggest thing Chris will need now is time to do that because it just doesn’t happen over night. You just cannot turn a football club around so quickly when it’s been through some real dark stages and that’s what he’ll need to make it a success again.
I think he will have his eyes open to what needs to be done at that football club and if he has money to spend then great, but if not and he has to work with that group of players, he’ll be wheeling and dealing in the market like a lot of managers have to do.
I wouldn’t begrudge him [getting more to spend than I did] but yes it’s football and I would be a little bit envious at not being able to do that but time will tell if he’s given that finance to go and change the squad around and develop his own style and philosophies on the club.
I think looking from the outside he [Chris] will know there’s something wrong somewhere because of where they [Sunderland] are in the division so he’ll go in there and walk in the training ground and see huge facilities, an absolutely brilliant venue to go and work in every day but it’s what happens on the grass that matters, so he’ll have to get his teeth stuck into it very quickly. I think they’ve got a game Tuesday night so he’ll have to get results quickly. Am sure he’s up for the challenge because if he wasn’t he would have waited for another job.