When is it acceptable to start questioning whether Sunderland have the right man in Simon Grayson?


Simon Grayson has been in charge of Sunderland for just over two months, but he's already displaying signs he hasn't a clue what he's doing. When is it acceptable to start questioning what the hell is going on?


73 days since Simon Grayson arrived at the Stadium of Light and initially impressed a fan base who had been through the wringer after a year of David Moyes and a painful relegation.

The native of North Yorkshire said the right things about restoring some pride in Sunderland and building a team filled with players who actually want to be at the club. 

It was hardly rocket science and much of it will have been fed him to appease supporters who had grown increasingly agitated during takeover talk and being rejected by some bloke from Scotland. But it was a start and it sounded reasonable enough. 

Now with the transfer window closed and Sunderland splashing out a cool £1.25 on an entire squad rebuild with ten new faces coming in, is three awful defeats in a row a bit soon to start questioning whether Simon Grayson can achieve much of anything at the Stadium of Light?

Perhaps. But some of the crap he's come out with in the past week has some already scratching their heads at the direction in which Sunderland are heading. 

We didn't need a striker

Grayson was insistent in his press conference last week that those who had suggested bringing in a striker was the minimum that Sunderland must achieve in the market were incorrect.

"Everyone gets carried away that everyone wants a centre forward, the finished article...I didn't feel it was a necessity. Everyone else was talking like it was."

His side have now managed one goal in the last three games - and that was off Sunderland's only shot on target yesterday against Sheffield United - a late Jack Rodwell strike. 

Our best players are still likely to leave

Whilst the failure to land a forward was the major criticism of Sunderland's transfer business, the feat/fluke of keeping hold of a few 'Premier League-class' players was considered sufficient to balance that out. That Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong remain at the club should be a good thing, if someone can get the best out of them. 

But no sooner had the window closed, than the gaffer was predicting they will be sold in January - if their performances enable it. David Moyes-style levels of expectation-busting or a healthy dose of realism?

Where does stripping the squad bare of its best players and replacing them with loans and cheap deals hit a tipping point? And should the manager be advocating such a policy on the eve of a game, or does he have a duty to say 'enough's enough'?

What the bloody hell was that formation yesterday?

Many were scratching their heads at the game, many still haven't a clue what system Grayson's Sunderland were aiming to employ against Sheffield Utd. A 3-5-2 morphing into a 4-4-2 when attacking seems to have been the best guess. 

Whatever it was, lobbing in Jack Rodwell for a laugh and trying to utilise George Honeyman as a wing-back was a sight to behold if you had turned up seeking to watch a little slapstick. For the rest of us who were there to watch the footy, it looked an unholy mess. 

'Clever' Martin Bain

Sunderland CEO Martin Bain isn't the most popular figure on Wearside. Brought in to slash costs and fluff up the cushions to have the place looking nice for prospective new owners, the former Rangers man is widely blamed for some godawful decision-making and embarrassing faux pas performed at the circus. New York, redundancies, even the worst strip seen in a generation - all on his watch. 

But Simon Grayson is firmly in on the PR drive to restore his master's image. The Sunderland boss was hailing him as 'clever' only this week for engineering a raft of odd looking loan exits for the Black Cats former big money purchases - Papy Djilobodji, Wahbi Khazri, Jeremain Lens and Fabio Borini. 

There was little to be hailed as 'clever' about much of that wheeling and dealing. In an overheating transfer market where crap players attract decent fees, Sunderland had to lend their crap players out just to get them off the wage bill and managed to ensure they hadn't a bean to spend on replacements. 

Cliche-ridden claptrap & blaming what went before 

All football fans are used to manager-speak and all Sunderland fans are used to hearing the current manager blame the one who went before. Simon Grayson all too easily fell into both traps in the wake of that embarrassing defeat to a third Yorkshire club in a row yesterday: 

"We have to roll our sleeves up, stick our chests out and get over this obstacle which has been in place for a number of years here. 

We are all in this together, the fans, the supporters and the staff. We have to try to ride out this storm of negativity."

Bleurgh. Another boss suggesting morale-sapping home defeat after morale-sapping home defeat are merely the norm at the Stadium of Light. 

Increasingly though, Sunderland supporters have concluded we really aren't "in this together". Many have ceased going to games and many more wrestle with their conscience on a weekly basis about whether they can be arsed to keep going.

Sunderland as a football club appears to exist solely to enable want-away owner Ellis Short to minimise his losses. Simon Grayson is increasingly looking like nothing more than a stooge in that farce. Six league games is too soon to judge him of course - but then we say that every year when the latest shmuck rocks up and tries to give the job a go.




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