Is it win or bust for Simon Grayson and Sunderland against Bolton Wanderers?
Simon Grayson is facing up to a defining clash in his Sunderland tenure just months after taking the job.
Basement club Bolton Wanderers arrive at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night with a chance to leapfrog the Black Cats, and while Grayson suggested there has been no ultimatum since the Bristol City defeat from chief executive Martin Bain. He is well aware that defeat would mean ‘anything could happen’.
He said: “I see Martin after every game in my office, we spoke yesterday as well, nothing has changed in terms of us speaking after every game win, lose, or draw.
“He’s very supportive of what we are doing, he’s here every day, but he knows – as I do – that only results are going to change people’s minds.
“I’m long in the tooth – I know we need to win matches.
“It’s not about winning for myself, it’s about winning for this football club and that’s what I need to do.
“Winning the game tomorrow will help a lot of people – the club, the players, myself, the fans – and then we can move on to the next game.
“If we don’t win the game, anything can happen with players, myself, whatever. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
“But I’m not thinking about that, I want us to go into the game feeling positive believing that we can win the game, and then go into the Middlesbrough game and get a result there as well.”
“I’ve got 100% confidence that I’m the right man for the job because of my abilities and experience, if someone else decides otherwise I’ll move on and from a manager’s perspective that’s football unfortunately.”
Grayson is expecting to have almost a full squad to call upon for the game, with only Tyias Browning ruled out at this stage.
The under-pressure boss insists he has improved the culture at the club since his arrival but admitted it counts for little so long as Sunderland flounder at the bottom of the table.
He said: “I always knew that it was going to be a tough job and that nothing would happen overnight. I think when I look back at the four months or so since I joined the club, we have made improvements.
“The vibe around the training ground, the group that we’ve put together, the players that we’ve got rid of, the new ones we’ve brought in, we’ve got a good, strong squad.
“The environment is a lot better than when I walked in, but of course that can’t come to the forefront when the results aren’t there. They matter more than anything else, but we do believe what we’re doing will allow things to come through in the bigger picture.
“I understand that I can tell people what a positive environment it is, but results are all that matters,” he added.
“People will make up their own mind whether I’m the right man for the job but I know that I am. I’m here, I’ve made some improvements, I know there’s more to be done.
“There’s not many better or more experienced managers out there that would want or would take this job. I know I need to do better, ultimately it starts with victories.”