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Captain’s Blog: Likeable Grayson can help to restore Sunderland's self-respect

I like Simon Grayson.

By Michael Graham
Roker Report

At first glance, that probably doesn't seem like much of a statement. I mean, how hard is it to actually like someone?

Well, very hard, as it turns out, when it comes to managers of Sunderland.

And it's not a loser thing, either. Granted, it's harder to love a loser but, I don't know about anyone else, but I've almost become desensitised to losers at Sunderland to an annoyingly accepting degree.

But in all seriousness, why have Sunderland managers, en-masse, been so fundamentally unlikeable in recent years? Let's just run through them. You know, just in case anyone isn't as miserable as they should be today.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

David Moyes: A dour, defeatist dementor who sucked the joy, of which there was actually much the summer he arrived, out of the club and shat it down the nearest toilet - without even flushing afterwards.

Sam Allardyce: Brilliantly pragmatic football manager and big character, but so far up the arses of crooked agents he could taste their toothpaste on a morning.

Dick Advocaat: He was very likeable for a while, you know, whilst he had nothing to lose. Sunderland could've got relegated on his watch and it wouldn't have been on him. Naturally, the second he did have something to lose, he took the huff and bailed.

Gus Poyet: A fundamentally unlikeable man in every possible way, cup final or not.

Paolo Di Canio: He was likeable, lovable even, in a very short burst and as long as you turned a blind eye to the fact he's batsh*t mental in actual potentially dangerous ways.

Martin O'Neill: When he opened his mouth, he was the most likeable person on earth. When his team played football, he made you question your own will to live.

Steve Bruce: Whiny to the extreme, and far more interested in winning the blame game than football matches.

Sunderland v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

It's really not a nice rabble of individuals, is it? To be honest, the most unlikeable trait they all shared was that they all gave the impression that they either didn't want to be at Sunderland, or thought they were too good to be here. You don't mind that so much when they're performing, but from this lot of losers?!

They all blamed someone else or moaned about how tough they had it, all while taking millions out of our club.

Grayson, though, is different. The difference? Respect. He respects this club and you can tell. He accepted the job under financial restraints and in tough circumstances. In fact, he even waited for it whilst others turned it down.

He's taken a hard line on anyone who he believes isn't trying hard enough and not been afraid at all to cut loose those who don't hold the club in sufficient regard. He's respected supporters enough to be honest, but without destroying optimism in favour of excusing himself responsibility for the tough times that are coming.

From a football point of view, I still don't really know what he has. Whether he's up to the job or not, I just don't know yet. There have been good performances and bad, good selections and bad, good substitutions and bad, good signings and bad. The jury is still very much deliberating.

However, one thing I can say about Simon Grayson is that I like him, and that in itself feels refreshing.

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