Ex-Sunderland boss lifts lid on Ellis Short and why last season's relegation could prove a blessing in disguise

Former Sunderland manager Simon Grayson.
Former Sunderland manager Simon Grayson.

Simon Grayson says that in the fullness of time, Sunderland fans might come to think of relegation to League One last season as a good thing!

Grayson was sacked this time last year ago after failing to create an immediate push for promotion back to the Premier League.

And an utterly miserable campaign was completed earlier this year when Grayson’s successor, Chris Coleman, could not stop the Black Cats being relegated to the third tier of English football for only the second time in its history.

It was a humiliation for a club which once held the world record for longest-serving club never to have been relegated in its history.

But in new book ‘The Managers - Tales from the Red and Whites Volume 3’, Grayson admits that while he suffered during his time in the Sunderland hot seat, maybe the demotion will come to be seen as a necessary evil.

In the book, he reveals he believes it was a tall order for anyone to save the club last season given the historical problems it was coping with, coupled with former owner’s Ellis Short’s decision not to spend ambitiously in the transfer market.

The summer Grayson was appointed, Sunderland accumulated close to £40 million in player sales and £30 million in parachute payments but the new manager was given just over £1 million to spend to restock a squad reduced to the bare bones.

In an extract from the book, he said: ‘The biggest thing that was hanging over the football club when I came in was that there was so much animosity towards Ellis Short, and he had decided he no longer wanted to invest.

‘So, as much as it is a horrible thing to suffer relegation at the end of the season I was involved in, it probably gave Ellis the opportunity to sell the club, and for players to leave.

‘Ultimately, maybe going down the second time can be of longer-term benefit for the club –- we’ve seen it already this season with Sunderland having put a great run of wins together.

‘Having won at home very quickly, all of a sudden you can find yourself on a run that can snowball.

‘Whether it is League One, Championship or Premier League, wins give you momentum – Chris Coleman didn’t get a home win for a long time after his arrival, and that didn’t help him.”

Grayson says he has no regrets about taking on the challenge at the Stadium of Light last season, despite being handed the poisoned chalice of a cash-starved and demoralised club.

He said every manager with self-belief would jump at the chance of managing a club with the potential of Sunderland Football Club.

But he says he wishes he could have laid at least a few building blocks towards a long-term revival.

‘I’d like to have achieved more personally, but I couldn’t leave much influence on Sunderland over the four months I was there, and my feeling now is that it was the right club at the wrong time for me,” he said.

‘If I had taken over now, a year later, I would have been the more suitable because of my reputation for getting four promotions from League One.

‘You always try to leave improvements when you depart a club, on and off the pitch, but you need a period of time to do that.”

Tickets for the ‘The Managers’ book launch, this Friday at the Stadium of Light with Peter Reid and Malcolm Crosby can be bought here https://bit.ly/2JyzDh8, or fans can walk up on the night and pay on the door.