Sussed ‘em quick then: Won't work & won't do the basics, Grayson bemoans eternal Sunderland issue

Beaten in July by a Scottish Premiership side is perhaps little to be alarmed about, as we end the new manager's second full week in charge, but Simon Grayson's post-match comments after he completed his fourth friendly game in charge this afternoon, are merely a matter of deja vu for a fan base used to watching players with no interest in performing for Sunderland. Will Simon Grayson finally be the man to break the rotten culture?

It almost beggars belief really. Yet another squad of players at Sunderland who packed in playing for their last manager have been sussed by the latest one after just a fortnight in the job.

So we can conclude this evening, after the Black Cats were beaten with ease in a friendly with Scottish Premiership side St Johnstone. Friendlies are friendlies and it's difficult to draw too many conclusions. But when the new boss criticises some of his players for not being arsed, then perhaps now is a good time to highlight that we still have something of a problem here.

Eight permanent managers at the Stadium of Light in eight years, all who have faced the same fundamental issue - professional footballers who have little interest in performing the basics either in training or on the pitch in a competitive situation when donning a red-and-white shirt.

It's merely a matter of weeks since David Moyes was supposedly insisting he would require an entire new squad of players in order to stand any chance of returning the club to the Premier League.

Newspaper reports were littered with suggestions that the dour Scot had been unable to believe his eyes when he took his first training sessions at Sunderland. Footballers who were unable to follow simple instructions and who could not perform basic training drills. Premier League footballers on Premier League wages too.

Worse still were the claims that Moyes quickly grew tired of the attitude of the Black Cats players and bemoaned their lack of professionalism and application. The end of his miserable rein would come amidst accusations certain Sunderland individuals had refused to travel with the squad for the final games of the season, feigning injury as they waited on agents landing them at the feet of some other mug who would pay them for wasting what little ability they possess.

Fast forward but a few weeks and his replacement at the Stadium of Light, Simon Grayson, this evening uttered the age-old Sunderland manager declaration after somewhere in the region of just sixteen days in the job, telling the Sunderland Echo and other assorted north east press after watching his new charges lose in Perth this afternoon:

"There are certain players who are buying into the ideas and certain players that aren't. If players aren't willing to work hard for this shirt, they can go somewhere else.

I'm not prepared to work with players who aren't prepared to run, do the basics that millions would give their right arm to do."
We can all probably identify who he means and their names need little repeating here. It is perhaps disappointing though to discover there are still players at the club who we thought may be prepared to knuckle down for a new manager, but in truth have no desire whatsoever to do so.

Prior to Moyes stint at the club, it was Sam Allardyce warning his Sunderland squad that those who weren't prepared to perform would be "surplus to requirements". Before Big Sam arrived, Dick Advocaat was telling his players they stood "no chance" of staying in the Premier League without a change in application and before that Gus Poyet could be heard issuing repeated warnings that his charges must perform or be dropped. Paulo Di Canio, Martin O'Neill and other assorted caretakers faced the same issue.

Groundhog day then Simon. Let's hope the new man can finally be the one to smash this horrid culture at the Stadium of Light. Those before him have tried, but for one reason or another they haven't been in the job long enough to see it through.

Frankly though, we shouldn't even be having this conversation with the season starting two weeks on Friday. At least Grayson has identified the issue, now it needs dealing with. And quick.

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