It was a new era at Sunderland under former Preston North End manager Simon Grayson, who had taken over the club in the summer of 2017. Sunderland had just been relegated to the Championship, the club was in the midst of a complete overhaul. Again.
With very little money to spend, Grayson had to be cute and crafty in the way he shaped and moulded his squad together. Having to rely on bargain basement signings and younger players to bolster the squad, it was a thankless task.
After a promising start to the season with two draws and a victory, things were looking half-decent for Sunderland. New striker Lewis Grabban was scoring goals, and Republic of Ireland international Aiden McGeady had joined.
It was about as good as it was going to get for Grayson and his Sunderland team, Convincing defeats to Leeds United and Barnsley left Sunderland looking down rather than up the table. The manager was already in trouble – and you could sense that he knew it too.
His players appeared to also. On this day, Lee Cattermole spoke to the club's official website and urged his teammates to up their performance after expressing his belief that the entire squad was playing below par.
We’re talking already as a group that we haven’t played anywhere near as good as we know we’re capable of. It’s going to be a tough season and we have to take it a game at a time, keep our feet on the ground.
There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of games to come. We have to forget about our last game and move on. This league’s about just remembering what makes you a good team, which is your work-rate and commitment.
Once you start getting ahead of yourself, especially dropping down, if you think you’re better than what you are, you’ll get punished. It’s the same in the Premier League if you win a game you think ‘we’re onto something here’, that’s when it can bite you.
The midfielder also went on to praise the new manager and explained how his style of management is something that Cattermole himself identifies with.
It’s been good. Everything he’s brought to the club so far is exactly what we’ve needed. He’s a great fit for the job and the club and, hopefully, that will continue.
It’s been refreshing and that’s what he asks for in his team and in his players as a standard level. That suits me down to the ground.
That’s how I’ve made my career; on my effort and work-rate and on my honesty to go and do my best. If we can get that from the group it will be amazing how far we can go.
Unfortunately, for Grayson, Cattermole and the entire squad, he did not go very far.
The club was entrenched in a horrific relegation fight that they did not have the stomach for. A few days after this game, Sunderland faced Sheffield United at home, where they lost to Chris Wilder’s newly-promoted team.
By Halloween, Grayson was sacked and Cattermole and his teammates were looking down, rather than up.