Ex-Sunderland manager Simon Grayson has this advice for his former club in the play-offs
Simon Grayson has told Sunderland to channel the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion into winning the play-offs.
The Black Cats' former boss has a strong record in the play-offs, having led Blackpool, Huddersfield Town and Preston North End to promotion via the end of season lottery.
Such experience leaves the 49-year-old well-placed to offer some advice - and he believes Jack Ross should be prepared to deal with setbacks as his side prepare to face Portsmouth over two legs.
And Grayson believes Sunderland need to channel the disappointment of missing out on the top two into stringing together a strong play-off campaign - as his Preston side did back in 2015.
“There will be setbacks for every team involved in the play-offs," said Grayson, speaking to the Yorkshire Post.There always is. It can be the same for a team who wins automatic promotion when the pressure is really on.
“I think back to the year we went up at Leeds (2010) and had an awful run late on. No one could see it ending, but then we went to Yeovil and won 2-1 with Richard Naylor getting both goals.
“Suddenly we had the bit between our teeth again and went up on the last day.
“We had something similar in 2015 at Preston. We were in the top two for weeks, but then missed out on automatic by losing at Colchester on the final day.
“Everyone’s chin was on the floor in the dressing room. Lower than a snake’s belly, if I am honest.
“We had lost to Rotherham in the play-offs the year before so no one wanted to be there.
“So I made sure I got everyone together before the flight home and explained we had another chance.
“Those who had finished seventh or eighth didn’t have it, but we did, and we couldn’t waste it.
“Three weeks later we won promotion at Wembley.”
Grayson also has some words of wisdom for Ross when it comes to preparing his side for the play-offs, stating that normality could be the key.
“The key at this stage of a season is to keep things as normal as possible,” he added.
“It can be tough to do that at times. There is so much at stake and a whole year’s work is on the line.
“But experience teaches you how best to try. I picked up some of that as a player."