Simon Grayson praises 'superb' Sunderland support and insists he would never criticise fans

Sunderland fans celebrating at Deepdale.
Sunderland fans celebrating at Deepdale.
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Simon Grayson has hailed the 'superb' Sunderland support and insists his pre-match comments that sparked controversy were taken out of context.

Ahead of the Championship clash with Preston North End, Grayson sparked anger from a section of the Sunderland support after he appeared to hit out in the wake of fan criticism following the 5-2 thrashing at Ipswich Town.

Sunderland boss Simon Grayson.

Sunderland boss Simon Grayson.

Sunderland's dreadful performance at Portman Road sparked heavy criticism of the manager and team but Grayson's comments in the build-up to the Preston game got the back up of a number of fans.

In the TV section of his pre-match press conference, Grayson said: "I accept there is a lot of frustration around.

"Results like this [Ipswich] will bring people out of the woodwork who have probably never been to Ipswich on a Tuesday night, or not really been up and down the country.

"On the other side there are supporters who have done that who have a right to voice that opinion."

But the Sunderland boss was keen to clarify his comments in the aftermath of Saturday's draw with Preston, insisting his comments had been taken out of context and he said he would never criticise the SAFC fanbase - who he wants to have a strong connection with.

"I want to have an affiliation with these supporters," said the Sunderland boss following the enthralling draw at Deepdale.

"I don’t criticise them for any criticism they want to give the players, some of it the players deserve.

"I was more meaning people outside the club thinking players don’t care, because of what they read or hear.

"I’ll never have a go at our supporters.

"They travel the length and breadth of the country, they spend large amounts of money, following the team."

"It was superb backing," added Grayson of the 3,000-strong support at Deepdale.

“The fans came in their numbers again and you can certainly never criticise our supporters because they travel up and down the country- whether it’s 750 on a Tuesday night at Ipswich - or just short of 3,000 here.

"The atmosphere was fantastic, this place was rocking when Preston went 2-1 up.

"Our fans stuck with us and they saw a reaction."