Simon Grayson has been managing in the lower tiers of English football for over a decade now. The Sunderland job is the biggest job he has taken yet and the first time he has lead a team expecting promotion to the Premier League. Does he have what it takes to take Sunderland back up at the first time of asking?
What has he been like at other clubs?
Grayson is a League One specialist guiding every team he has managed prior to Sunderland. Blackpool, Leeds, Huddersfield and Preston all went up under the management of Grayson. Showing that he has the pedigree and mental strength to go through a promotion race. He has never experienced a relegation in his career however if Huddersfield hadn’t have sacked him in the nick of time they may have been relegated.
Even though Grayson has found great success in League One the Championship is another story. He almost got Huddersfield relegated as he went on a 12 game run without winning a match during his final season before being sacked. Grayson was much more successful in the Championship during his time with Leeds United finishing 7th just outside the playoffs in their first season back in the league.
A season later Grayson was surprisingly sacked by Leeds on the 1st of February a club statement read”We have 18 games to go this season and are still within touching distance of the Play-Offs, but felt with the transfer window now closed we needed to make the change at this time in the belief that a new managerial team will be able to get more out of the existing squad of players and make the difference.” Leeds went on to win only 6 games for the remainder of the season and finish 14th. Well outside the playoffs.
What is his style of play like?
Graysons style of play is very counter attacking with Preston averaging the 4th lowest possession in the Championship last season but still managing to finish in a very respectable 11th place scoring 64 goals in the process. Grayson preferred a 4-4-2 formation whilst at Preston and Leeds. Defence is key in any Simon Grayson team as Tom Clarke and Alex Baptiste were fantastic under him last season and they managed to get 14 league draws, the highest in the entire league.
How will Sunderland’s current team suit him?
Width will be key for Grayson next season and if Sunderland do manage to keep hold of Wabhi Khazri that would be great business for the club. He would work perfectly under Simon Grayson. He managed to get the best out of Aiden Mcgeady during his spell at Deepdale and he could do the same for Khazri. Lamine Kone could be one of the best defenders in the league if he can work well in Graysons system as he is very good at having a rigid defence that doesn’t leak goals.
How will he recruit?
Grayson has done very well on a shoestring budget at most clubs he has been at. With Sunderland selling Jordan Pickford for £30 million he should have a lot of money to play with. The former Preston boss is not used to having such a big budget at his disposal with him racking up a net spend of just over £1 million last season but bringing in great players at a very good price. Signings made by Grayson have always been at a cut price so Sunderland fans shouldn’t worry about paying over the odds for a player who won’t cut it. But he has to adapt to the new budget he has got and the step up in class of players available to him. He has never managed a team with this big of a budget so it is a question of if he will know how to spend it? He has to bring in a couple of striking options after the sale of Defoe and potentially the sale of Borini will leave Sunderland looking thin up front.