Simon Grayson reveals brutal timing of Sunderland sacking left him 'gobsmacked' - and reveals what John O'Shea told squad

Simon Grayson has admitted he was genuinely shell-shocked to be sacked within minutes of Sunderland's draw with Bolton Wanderers last season.

Thursday, 15th November 2018, 1:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th November 2018, 1:39 pm
Simon Grayson moments before he was sacked.

Just over a year ago, the Yorkshireman walked off the pitch after a 3-3 draw and was relieved of his duties almost instantly - failing to appear for his post-match press conference.

Now in new book ‘The Managers - Tales From the Red and Whites Volume 3’, Grayson has spoken candidly about his brief spell at the club, what went on behind the scenes and how he was stunned to be sacked in the way he was.

Simon Grayson moments before he was sacked.

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In an extract from the book, he reveals: “My practice after a game as a manager was to go into my office, spend a couple of minutes speaking to my staff, and then go in to see the players.

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“I found that that was a good way for me to gather my thoughts and allow the players to settle down before I started talking to them.

“So, as usual, I went into my office but this time, within 30 seconds of sitting down, the chief executive Martin Bain walks in.

Simon Grayson.

“He said: “Look, I know this timing isn’t the right thing to do but I’ve had just Ellis on the line asking me to let you know that you’re relieved of your duties’.

“I was gobsmacked.

“I wasn’t surprised at the decision to sack me – I was surprised at the timing.

“I thought they could have had at least waited 15 minutes or 20 minutes, but Martin said: “Look I’m under instructions’.

“So I gathered my thoughts and I went into the dressing room as I would normally.

“The dressing room was quiet.

“I said to the players: “‘Look, you can’t keep on making stupid mistakes. It’s something that has happened all season.

“I went through a few bits and bobs with them that had happened in the game and then I basically finished by saying: ‘Anyway, you’ve been a joy to work with, I’ve just been sacked,” and I walked out.

‘There was a stunned silence because they didn’t expect it to be done so quickly, and in the way it was done either.

‘I heard later that our captain, John O’Shea, had stood up in the dressing room –- and I really appreciate this, because this has come from other people –- and he said: “‘Why is it? What is it with us that we keep getting good people sacked when it is our responsibility?”

Tickets for the ‘The Managers’ book launch, this Friday at the Stadium of Light with Peter Reid and Malcolm Crosby can be bought here, or fans can walk up on the night and pay on the door.


Simon Grayson says that in the fullness of time, Sunderland fans might come to think of relegation to League One last season as a good thing!

Grayson was sacked this time last year ago after failing to create an immediate push for promotion back to the Premier League.

And an utterly miserable campaign was completed earlier this year when Grayson’s successor, Chris Coleman, could not stop the Black Cats being relegated to the third tier of English football for only the second time in its history.

It was a humiliation for a club which once held the world record for longest-serving club never to have been relegated in its history.

But in new book ‘The Managers - Tales from the Red and Whites Volume 3’, Grayson admits that while he suffered during his time in the Sunderland hot seat, maybe the demotion will come to be seen as a necessary evil.

In the book, he reveals he believes it was a tall order for anyone to save the club last season given the historical problems it was coping with, coupled with former owner’s Ellis Short’s decision not to spend ambitiously in the transfer market.

The summer Grayson was appointed, Sunderland accumulated close to £40 million in player sales and £30 million in parachute payments but the new manager was given just over £1 million to spend to restock a squad reduced to the bare bones.

In an extract from the book, he said: ‘The biggest thing that was hanging over the football club when I came in was that there was so much animosity towards Ellis Short, and he had decided he no longer wanted to invest.

‘So, as much as it is a horrible thing to suffer relegation at the end of the season I was involved in, it probably gave Ellis the opportunity to sell the club, and for players to leave.

‘Ultimately, maybe going down the second time can be of longer-term benefit for the club –- we’ve seen it already this season with Sunderland having put a great run of wins together.

‘Having won at home very quickly, all of a sudden you can find yourself on a run that can snowball.

‘Whether it is League One, Championship or Premier League, wins give you momentum – Chris Coleman didn’t get a home win for a long time after his arrival, and that didn’t help him.”

Grayson says he has no regrets about taking on the challenge at the Stadium of Light last season, despite being handed the poisoned chalice of a cash-starved and demoralised club.

He said every manager with self-belief would jump at the chance of managing a club with the potential of Sunderland Football Club.

But he says he wishes he could have laid at least a few building blocks towards a long-term revival.

‘I’d like to have achieved more personally, but I couldn’t leave much influence on Sunderland over the four months I was there, and my feeling now is that it was the right club at the wrong time for me,” he said.

‘If I had taken over now, a year later, I would have been the more suitable because of my reputation for getting four promotions from League One.

‘You always try to leave improvements when you depart a club, on and off the pitch, but you need a period of time to do that.”

Tickets for the ‘The Managers’ book launch, this Friday at the Stadium of Light with Peter Reid and Malcolm Crosby can be bought here, or fans can walk up on the night and pay on the door.