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Captain’s Blog: Grayson’s doing the simple stuff well, and that’s good enough for me

It's not all going to be plain sailing with Grayson. He'll have tough spells, we'll lose games, and a promotion push may be just out of reach this season. However, the way he has started shows that he is proving to be the most relatable manager Sunderland have had for years. 

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This season, one thing in the Premier League can be absolutely guaranteed: Pep Guardiola will be back to being branded a 'genius' if he does well after spending another £300m this summer.

'Look at the way he's sorted out his defence,' the hipsters and paid pundits will surely cry, as his three £50m defenders and world record goalkeeper apparently miraculously add something to their team.

As for the Championship, what you can guarantee there is that Simon Grayson will be branded a genius if he does well with Sunderland, because he'd have done it without spending - and that will be just as stupid.

Because what Grayson appears to be doing on Wearside is not 'genius' at all, it's the most simple thing in the world. It's that wonderful old-fashioned thing that used to be the measure of football in the days it used to be judged on grass rather than balance sheets - management.

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

It's undeniable that somewhere along the line, football became utterly obsessed with transfers and money. I'm not just talking about clubs and the media, but fans too.

Maybe the frantic drama of a ticking clock is behind that odd placebo-effect style mentality, but it's there, without question.

'Football has changed,' we are always told. Money has always been spent (and wasted) in football and more money being in the game just means that more money is spent (and wasted). The scale is bigger but the effects are identical.

Peter Reid turned a relegation-threatened Sunderland into champions with just £40,000 (re-signing Paul Bracewell, who doubled up as assistant manager) and a couple of mid-season loan deals.

Everton v Sunderland X

At the other end of the scale, Newcastle spend £80million getting relegated a couple of seasons ago.

Sure, they spent a lot getting promoted back up again, but the same strategy didn't work for Aston Villa. Meanwhile, Huddersfield and Brighton got promoted with a very modest spend.

Meanwhile, every sign so far is that Grayson does not give one jot what he has to spend. He'll spend what he can, but is viewing money as an aide to success, not the key to it.

Rather than publicly ranting and moaning and trying to play the victim like David Moyes did because of players he doesn't have, Grayson has used his time concentrating on other (now apparently considered radical) footballing concepts such as establishing a work ethic, pride, and tactical clarity within the squad of players he actually has.

And that's very refreshing. I don't care how much thrill you get from a scarf picture or balance sheet, the sight of a fully confident Lee Cattermole on a weekly basis is far more satisfying. I don't care how exciting breaking transfer news is, it can't compare to a young player coming through the ranks with confidence and pouring all his passion into your club.

It's not all going to be plain sailing with Grayson. He'll have tough spells, we'll lose games, and a promotion push may be just out of reach this season.

However, the way he has started shows that he is proving to be the most relatable manager Sunderland have had for years.

He's not fussed about money, glitz, glamour or names. All he seems to want is the best group of players he can get to work their socks off for Sunderland, tackle hard, fight harder, and appreciate how lucky they are to have the opportunity to do it.

That's not 'genius'. It's raw simplicity in its most brilliant form, and it's what this club has desperately needed for some considerable time.