Lancashire Post PNE fans’ panel stalwart John Roper gives his reaction to the news that manager Simon Grayson has joined Sunderland as their new boss on a three-year deal.
With the announcement on Thursday evening of Simon Grayson’s appointment as Sunderland manager, a successful management era comes to a close.
First of all I would like to place on record my thanks to Simon and his staff for leaving Preston North End in a much better state that he found it back in February 2013.
Four full seasons later we have been promoted and moved from 15th in League One to 11th in the Championship and if my maths are correct that is 28 places at an average of seven places a season.
Grayson, like all managers, was not every North End fan’s cup of tea but the undoubted high spot of Grayson’s tenure was at Wembley on May 24th, 2015, when he finally broke that play-off hoodoo at the 10th time of asking.
For the majority of Grayson’s time at Deepdale the football was conservative rather than swashbuckling and he was sailing close to the edge in the Autumn of our first season back in the Championship, until a win a Deepdale against Nottingham Forest started the upturn.
North End went on to finish 11th in that season and hopes were high that we would improve on that in the season just gone.
Alas a poor start and a dreadful end to the season saw North End finish with exactly the same number of points as the previous year and, once again, in 11th position.
The big “improvement” last season was the type of football we played which was much easier on the eye.
But it has to be said that while our home record improved, our away record deteriorated and we could only muster those 61 points even though we had the services of Aiden McGeady for the vast majority of the season.
The fact is that Grayson has gone and North End move onwards and hopefully upwards with the difficult task of choosing their next manager.
It is never easy and the man who gets the job will not be the universal choice of the fan base.
I must admit to being pretty open about it myself and whilst North End mustn’t rush into an appointment I think we need somebody in place by the Stockport friendly on July 15th.
I wouldn’t say North End are at the crossroads but the managerial appointment must give continuity of some kind although, personally, I would not promote any of the remaining staff into the role.
I think the manager needs experience of managing a top-six Championship side on a smaller than normal budget…and he will not be all that easy to find.
Perhaps Trevor Hemmings could influence one of the more suitable candidates with a bigger budget but as we know money does not always buy success.
Interesting times to come then at Deepdale as the guessing game begins on the new appointment.
We will get the chance to thank Grayson in person when his Sunderland side come to Deepdale and I sincerely hope it will be a positive reception for the man and a huge thank you for a job well done.
Don’t look back in anger or blame Grayson for leaving…we all want to better ourselves in our various careers and the man is just doing exactly that.
Thanks for the memories Simon but your time at Deepdale is now confined to the history books.