It should be such a prestigious job that would tempt many good managers around the United Kingdom and Europe - but at this point it was one that many wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.
Sunderland were well and truly in the midst of a downward spiral. The owner wanted shot of the club, and his employees (especially the players) were bleeding the club dry on overinflated contracts, while having next to no interest in resurrecting a club that was on its knees on and the off the pitch.
In the days leading up to the appointment of Grayson, managers such as Derek McInnes, Nigel Pearson, Jurgen Klinsmann all distanced themselves from wanting the Sunderland job.
McInnes had clearly been first choice, but turned the job down – although the club tried to spin the line that Grayson had been the first pick all along. It seemed more like he was the only man brave (or stupid) enough to take the job on.
On this day in 2017, Grayson left his safe job at Deepdale to take on the basket case that was Sunderland AFC. Upon his appointment, Grayson cited the size of the club and the magnitude of the challenge ahead as key reasons for taking the job.
I am delighted to come to Sunderland, a club with such wonderful history and tradition, and I’m excited by the opportunity to manage this club and I want to bring the good times back.
Sunderland are so fortunate to have such tremendous support and I want to give these fans a team they can be proud of.
I want a group of players full of desire, team spirt and a never-say-die attitude - that’s the very least that we should expect from a Sunderland player.
The Championship is a demanding league, but with all the attributes I have highlighted then our aim has to be to get the club back to where it belongs as quickly as possible and I can’t wait to get started.
Grayson - who would be joining his new charges in Austria, where they were doing pre-season training – was said to have won over the Sunderland board by his determination to take on the challenge, along with his 600-game experience in the football league.
This is what Martin Bain thought of his appointment.
We warmly welcome Simon to Sunderland.
From the outset he demonstrated a tremendous enthusiasm for the job and his desire and ambition to make this football club better shone through.
Wherever he has managed, he has improved those clubs, which is a clear indication of his ability to build a team on solid foundations and create the right environment for success, and these are certainly attributes that we as a football club want to embrace as we embark on our own re-building process with him at the helm.
Despite a positive start to the job where Grayson won one and drew two of his first three, the wheels began to fall off and it showed a team that was desperately under-prepared for the Championship.
After a 3-3 draw with Bolton Wanderers on Halloween night, Grayson was sacked only four months into the job – and his career never really recovered.