Without great fanfare and as understated as ever, Simon Grayson became Sunderland’s 34th manager.
Something to be noted by those outside the North East but certainly nothing to raise too many pulses or eyebrows.
One of the advantages of spending the majority of my time outside of the area is that distance gives you a more honest perspective on what happens at the club.
You aren’t influenced by those with emotional ties so what you think is more often exactly that.
Conversely, if you listen to the opinions of those who aren’t from Sunderland, it can tell you a great deal because it mostly comes without bias.
The majority of the people I speak to take an interest in Sunderland simply because they know that’s where I’m from and because there has always been something worth talking about. Both good and bad.
What has become clear is that, to put it politely, nobody is really bothered about us at the minute.
Not that they’re being rude by having a laissez-faire attitude about us but when they say “Simon Grayson; how do you feel about that then?”, it says everything about what they think.
What it tells me is they aren’t quite sure how they feel about the appointment. I don’t think anyone does really.
It isn’t what you’d call a marquee appointment, so they expect your answer to be tinged with disappointed.
They expect you to give them a puff of the cheeks and an opinion they can steal so if it comes up in a conversation that doesn’t involve you, they can regurgitate it with authority. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.
On one hand, it indicates a drop in profile. Not Premier League? Not bothered. And like the old saying goes that there’s only one thing worse than being talked about and and that’s not being talked about.
At this very moment though, it could be a blessing.
The “S’ in SAFC should now stand for “stealth”. The pressure of relegation battles and constant change around a club can have a detrimental effect on everyone.
Fighting against the tide is draining and a period of flying under the radar will do everyone no harm whatsoever. The new manager’s appointment is a big part of that.
Even if it isn’t the most high-profile appointment, Grayson is a serial seven out of ten’er and if he was a player he’d be exactly the type of player who would be the first name on the team sheet.
Pick yourself a team full of sevens and you won’t go far wrong. That’s what he will bring to the club.
The level at which he has had success at will be dismissed by some, but it’s all relative and done against the backdrop of difficult some circumstances.
As I said a fortnight ago, this is a sensible appointment at a testing time. More important, it’s the right one, right now.
Efforts to find new owners will be ongoing, but having Ellis Short still at the helm and keeping the status quo might prove to be a blessing too.
We aren’t in the position financially that Newcastle and Aston Villa were 12 months ago. We don’t have £60million to spend on fees and, pleasingly, other clubs know it too.
Of course, they’ll still be looking to extract the most money from a club still benefiting from bathing in the riches of the Premier League for a decade and the subsequent parachute payments but we aren’t standing on street corner waiting to be taken for a ride either.
Not like we have been in the past.
The days of extortionate salaries to players who aren’t worth a quarter of that figure can be kept in the past.
And when we are in a position to offer those wages again, all efforts must be made to assure that it is money well spent and not just thrown at problems in desperation like a gambler chasing a run of bad bets.
We can be creative when it comes to player recruitment, something sorely missed last season.
Despite the financial situation being far from rosy, we don’t have to settle for hanging around the “Whoops!” section of the supermarket.
Being an attractive proposition to the standard of players needed to stay in the Premier League can be a problem when you’re seen as strugglers, but now we should be able to compete for players who can put us in the top six.
Players with ambition will want to come to Sunderland because it’s about looking up rather than feeling the draft blowing up from the trapdoor.
There are many layers that need to be peeled back before you get to core of transfer deals, but there are plenty of players out there within our budget who could improve the squad that it makes me shake my head every time I see them join other clubs.
There’s still plenty of movement to be made in and out of the Stadium of light this summer and what the manager does might define his stay.
The three-year deal he signed is no guarantee of anything. but a measure of financial security on his part and, as we know, managers rarely get long enough to correct early errors and that first line-up in four weeks time is going to be crucial.
What does bode well is that we have got a manager who has just spent the longest term of his managerial career at his last club.
He’s a manager who is still improving. He doesn’t arrive here bruised by recent failures or on a reputation built on successes in the distant past.
And whilst there were no great celebrations when he arrived, there was no great opposition either.
So, short of wearing camouflage and face paint, I’m happy for us to keep a low profile until the season starts and then we’ll see where we are then. And I can’t wait until it does.