Simon Grayson reflects on Sunderland’s progress and decision to name unchanged side again

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Simon Grayson remains pleased with Sunderland’s start to the season, despite suffering his first defeat against former side Leeds United.

The Black Cats were comfortable beaten by Thomas Christiansen and his new-look side on Saturday evening, with Samuel Saiz and Stuart Dallas scoring the crucial goals in a 2-0 Leeds victory.

It leaves Sunderland 12th in the Championship table after four games and Grayson believes his side showed the character, even in defeat, that can lead to a successful season.

He said: “Nobody was going to remain unbeaten for the season. We’ve tried to win the game (on Saturday) and that’s a key factor, that the players have shown a good attitude to try and win it,.

“All that was missing was the decision-making or quality when it really mattered. The Championship is going to be a long season for every club because there are so many games and the level of opposition is at a high standard.

“I’m pleased. When a team gets relegated from the Premier League or a division, you want to try not to have any hangover and I think the players have shown there isn’t.

“They’ve had a go, they shown good qualities, they’ve shown a real good attitude and good character in the games.

“Ultimately, we needed to do a bit better with the ball and that’s going to be a key factor.

“You’ve got to punish the opposition. That’s what it’s about, making sure that in both boxes you’re the dominant force, making sure you defend properly and then when you get into the top end you take chances when they come along.”

The Black Cats boss has confirmed that he will make changes for tomorrow night’s Carabao Cup clash at Carlisle United, Sunderland’s penultimate game before the first international break of the season.
Grayson named an unchanged team for the fourth league game in a row on Saturday, wanting to keep faith with a side that had made such a solid start to the season.

He said: “I looked at the squad and thought ‘do I change the squad?’. But we kept the same team because of what they’ve done.

“Tuesday, there will be changes because some players need game time and, ultimately, we want to get through to the next round of the cup.

“Ultimately, it’s two games this week and then we take stock of the whole situation. So far, we’re pleased with what we’ve done.”

Grayson was in a sanguine mood after his first defeat and is confident that the supporters can see what he is trying to do with the club.

He said: “I think it’s about putting stability back into the club and the heart and the soul back into it as well, with the supporters and everything.

“I think the supporters saw the effort from the players and they recognised that and they probably recognised that we didn’t have the quality that we’d like to have done.

“So it’s stability and really trying to move the club along in a steady fashion rather than up and down.

“Don’t move too quickly, up or downwards.

“Try and progress it in a slow steady manner, where you’re winning matches as well.”