Wise Men Say: Fans’ criticism should be the least of Grayson’s worries

editorial image
Have your say

As another international break appears and Sunderland are almost a quarter of the way through their Championship campaign, it seems a good point to take stock and analyse the season so far.

The discussion regarding the suitability of Simon Grayson in the Sunderland hot seat intensified after his bizarre criticism of the support in the build-up to the Preston game suggesting those who didn’t make the 500-plus mile round trip to Ipswich are the only ones critical towards him and his team.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that sections of the support have been criticised.

Pundits such as Gary Lineker and Jermaine Jenas have taken swipes at supporters leaving home games early during another capitulation that sadly the fans have come far too easily accustomed to.

It is easy for pundits to criticise when they never pay to watch a game and watch football from their comfortable seats in a TV studio, but it is a very dangerous game for Grayson to be playing.

I will be the first to admit I was underwhelmed by the appointment of Grayson, but the thoughts of a steady manager who could build a team on a shoestring budget made me think he could just be the man that was required to build the club

I also understand he has had very limited funds compared to some of the clubs in the Championship, and maybe criticism of him should be tempered by the difficulty of the task.

However, there is a valid argument to suggest that Grayson is severely under-performing in the job.

Grayson still seems unsure of what his best team or formation should be, his substitutions, at best, have been ineffective and, at worst, negative and lead to Sunderland throwing points away, such as the game at Hull a couple of weeks ago.

He has only won one of his last 17 Championship games.

He has only had one clean sheet in the same period.

In six games out of 11 this season, Sunderland have conceded two or more goals.

That is simply unacceptable for any manager in any league with any budget.

Unfortunately, those stats are not the most depressing regarding Sunderland.

December 17, 2016 remains the last time Sunderland won a home match. They have also yet to lead in any home game this year.

Just think of that – thousands of Sunderland fans haven’t seen their team lead at any point in 2017.

If that wasn’t miserable enough, we have only scored eight goals in that time – and four of them came in two games (Liverpool and West Ham).

Grayson may feel that it will be easier if everyone buys into what he is trying to do.

But he also needs to earn the right to be Sunderland manager and, if anything, the whole club, from top to bottom, has been given an easier ride than they deserve.

If Sunderland don’t break their home hoodoo this month, when they host QPR, Bristol City and Bolton, the wave of criticism will become overwhelming.

It feels already, in the early stage of his reign, that this month will make or break the Grayson regime.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Simon Grayson. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes