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It’s The Hope I Can’t Stand: Criticising Grayson is pointless - let’s HOPE he gets it right

Remember late 90s Sunderland Fanzine ‘It’s The Hope I Can’t Stand’? Well, the lads are back - each and every week here on This week, Mark Egan is sticking up for Simon Grayson and the tough job that he has on his hands.


20th in the table... no home win since December... crowds down by 10,000... a dire defeat described by our Neil Chandler as "the worst I've ever seen at the SoL" - and let's face it, there's plenty of competition for that bauble... surely this is exactly the time to panic.

That seemed to be the mood on Saturday, with fighting in the stands, another mass exodus and the first criticism of Grayson for his tactics and substitutions. Now, I wasn't there on Saturday - 500 miles away, my seat not taken (a sign of the times) and browsing cycle helmets while looking at Twitter. But my mind was in the stadium and with a bit of perspective I think we all need to calm down.

Here's the case for the defence. Yet again we've bought a whole new team in August. So when people criticise the team for appearing not to know each other, actually they don't know each other. They've never played together. They don't know their strengths and weaknesses. Grayson hasn't had time to assess some of these players and work out how best to deploy them. This is why we shouldn't be in a situation where we buy or borrow 10-15 players each August. It's this permanent instability which has led to our downfall, all a product of the Ellis Short business model.

Criticising Grayson is pointless. The man needs time to work out who he has in the squad and try to get the best out of them. Fans were surprised that he chose Kone as captain. Here's an alternative view. Kone wants away but the club couldn't sell him. Grayson will know that he's the best defender in the squad, so if he can get him giving even 90% we'll be doing well. I think he chose him as captain in order to try to motivate him - clearly it failed, but it was worth a try. Dropping Kone will depress his value and deprive us of someone who could be the best centre half in this division. Who's to blame? There's only one person responsible here - Kone - an absolute primadonna who deserves the sack and is an example of all that is wrong with modern football.

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

There's been criticism of Grayson for saying that he doesn't need a striker. Again, consider the man's position. He works for an owner who has given him next to no money to work with and a chief executive who's an idiot. No striker was brought in after the season started. Of course he knows we need more firepower but making a stand on that now will be counter-productive - the transfer window has closed and he has to try to motivate the players he's got, not tell them they're not good enough.

It's not pretty but we've been here before. Everyone remembers that in 1987-88 we walked the third division - but we actually started in mediocre form and I remember sitting through a 2-0 defeat to Chester, one of the worst performances I've ever seen. It took time for the team to gel. We're not going to win anything this season but I don't think we'll go down. I hope Grayson can find a formation and a game plan which will steady the ship and see us finish mid-table. It's the best we can hope for. But we all know about hope.

You can follow the lads over at ITHICS on Twitter by clicking here - be sure to catch their thoughts on all things SAFC right here on each and every week.

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