Simon Grayson says he has no regrets about leaving Preston North End - despite seeing them flourish in the Championship while he fights a relegation battle at Sunderland.
Grayson quit Deepdale in the summer after more than four years in charge to take the reins at the Black Cats.
Results and performances at Sunderland, however, have been disastrous and they sit second-bottom of the table having won just once in the league.
In contrast, his successor at Preston, Alex Neil, has guided them to fifth.
But ahead of his return to Deepdale on Saturday, Grayson told EFL sponsor Sky Bet he ‘wasn’t surprised’ at the success his former club are experiencing this season because of the strength of the squad he left behind.
He added: “When I left that football club I left some very talented players. When you look at them you probably have a squad with a current value of about £20m and we probably spent about £2m to put it all together.
“I think it’s reflected that Alex has not really had to bring too many players in because he felt he had a good squad there, which I definitely knew, but ultimately he’s made his mark and got off to a good start.
“I’m pleased for them; I’m pleased for the supporters because it’s obviously a club that I’ve got a lot of affiliation to.
“You spend four and a half years at a club and you get to know supporters, you get a working relationship with people above you, the owner, and you have a lot of respect for them.
“It was certainly a tough decision to make when I left that club and I look back with fond memories, but it’s about what I do in the future and obviously, I’ll be desperate to go back and try and get three points.
"They're in a good position at this moment in time but it's a long season for everybody and it's where you finish and not where you start."