Since Simon Grayson arrived at Sunderland, he has been refreshingly straight talking.
From his very first interview with the club website he has spoken openly and enthusiastically about the challenges that lie ahead of him. He has not been afraid to call players out for poor performances and has laid down the gauntlet to the entire squad stating that he will drive want away players “wherever they want to go.”
This is music to the ears of many Sunderland fans who grew tired of David Moyes continually telling us that the players were doing their best but merely lacked quality.
Grayson’s desire to assemble a squad full of players who are determined to fight for the shirt is admirable and shows an understanding of the culture amongst our fanbase. He has also talked about players previously signing for Sunderland the wrong reasons, which is again difficult to disagree with.
But such a transformation is easier said than done and he must back up his words with actions.
His signings so far have been promising in that regard, all the additions have a point to prove, whether it’s to resurrect their careers or young players looking to make a mark at a big club in the Championship.
Even experienced goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter appeared to be delighted to join the lads. In a photo doing the rounds on Twitter, he has already dressed his child in a Sunderland shirt and he’s spoke of his pride in joining a club of our stature.
But we’ve seen this all before – when Moyes arrived at Sunderland he spoke impressively and the majority were supportive of his stance with Kone, and look how that turned out.
By the end of the transfer window Grayson must have moved on most of the players he deems to have poor attitudes and replaced them with players in his image.
Of course, I don’t expect him to perform miracles in one transfer window, particularly when he’s working with an incredibly restrictive transfer budget. But if a few months into the season we aren’t seeing a well-drilled side with players giving their all, questions will quite rightly be asked.
Personally, I think Grayson is the right man at the right time for Sunderland. His record of working with relatively low budgets and stabilising teams is exactly what we need. I firmly believe he needs time to work but I’m not convinced he’ll be given it.
We have not finished below third in the Championship since 1995 and as such people will perhaps have similar aspirations this time around despite our circumstances being markedly different.
Grayson is also unlucky in that he doesn’t have the luxury of being a big-name manager. Take Rafa Benitez at Newcastle for example. He was forgiven a slow start and in-different runs of form because of his reputation. The players, rather the Benitez took the flack.
In 06/07 Roy Keane was similar –his standing in the game and big personality gave him time and patience. Grayson although a decent manager at this level is already facing a slightly uphill battle as some people feel his appointment is further confirmation of our demise.
Therefore, he must make good on his promises to get a bit of momentum around the place again.