When Simon Grayson was appointed I was at work and the news filtered through from co-workers that Sunderland had secured the Preston boss’ services. The mags I work with found it utterly hilarious that we were appointing him - picking holes in his career and reputation with wry smiles on their faces.
Let's be honest, Simon Grayson is not a glamorous appointment. Nor is he someone with experience of a Championship promotion. In fact some might say that he is a average steady eddy manager who fits nicely at a smaller club like Preston.
However, the naysayers are wrong, and Grayson could be just the man we’ve been looking for. I must admit at first I was underwhelmed, but after further thinking and allowing myself time to digest the news I am now feeling the love for Grayson.
The fact that Simon Grayson has openly stated that he wants the Sunderland job is a big positive for me. This is his biggest job, and he is more than likely ecstatic to be given the job. That is a far cry from David Moyes last year - who always came across as thinking he was to good for the job. Grayson, however, wanted this job and desperately wants to succeed, stating:
I want to make the club and its supporters proud again.
In his first interview with the club he seemed to already have an understanding of what Sunderland fans want, and he immediately addressed two areas of concern that I have had.
Firstly, he said that if you’re good enough then you’re old enough. Excellent - we have an academy that has produced quality players in recent seasons, so there is no reason why youth prospects shouldn’t be given the chance to prove their worth. That is exactly what us Sunderland fans want to hear.
Secondly, he said that players will want to sign for this club because it’s Sunderland. How refreshing is it to hear a manager say that the main selling point of this club is what it can offer players in a footballing sense rather than a business decision. Grayson sounds like a man who won’t rush into transfers based on names and prior reputation - something we desperately need after almost a decade of poor transfer business:
Players will want to come to this football club, its a nice attractive football club. They aint coming here for the money, they are coming here because they want to play for the shirt.
Grayson also continued to talk about the size of the club, and it is wonderful to see someone trying to bring a positive mentality to the club from the off. The Moyes era brought nothing but negativity, and it felt like he was always trying to downplay the club and its capabilities. Thankfully, it seems that Grayson is taking the opposite approach - he wants people to know that Sunderland are a big club. He talks about the area of Sunderland and what the people expect from their players with a real air of confidence. Yes we want to win, but more important than winning is the desire of players to give 100%.
The final enrouaging point for me from Grayson’s initial interview is the winning mentality he talks about nurturing. David Moyes famously declared after our defeat to Middlesbrough in our opening home game of the season that we would be in a relegation battle. A defeatist attitude fostered from the off. Grayson is immediately talking about a winning mentality, and that is refreshing.
Simon Grayson wants to be here, and that has to be the biggest positive to take from his initial interview. It’s amazing what happens when someone has a positive attitude - Sam Allardyce showed us that during his brief tenure. However, what we as supporters need to do right now is forget about the past for now. Forget Ellis Short and Martin Bain. Forget about the disaster of last season. Forget about everything negative that came before. We need to embrace Grayson, give the players a fresh start and help to build a positive atmosphere at the club we love so dearly.
It will be far easier for our new manager to get things ticking along nicely if we as supporters back him and the team. I do not think we are by any means guaranteed success, but Simon Grayson’s appointment is a step in the right direction.