It is a new era at Preston and Sunderland after Simon Grayson left Deepdale to take the Stadium of Light vacancy. Dave Seddon looks at Grayson’s unveiling as Black Cats boss
Facing the media for the first time as Sunderland boss, Simon Grayson described Preston as being a ‘club who have been very good to me’.
Grayson was officially unveiled in the North East on Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after his switch from PNE had gone through.
He had taken training earlier, meeting the Black Cats squad for the first time.
Asked whether it had been a tough job to leave Preston but an easy one to take the Sunderland job, Grayson said: “A bit of both I would say.
“I’m leaving a football club that have been very good to me for four-and-a-half years, making me the second longest-serving manager in the Championship.
“I gathered a group of players who have come from the bottom reaches of League One and gone to the periphery of the play-offs in the Championship.
“I had a great unity with those players, the supporters, the owner and the other people at Preston.
“But when a club like Sunderland comes knocking it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“It’s a fantastic club with tradition and history.
“This club is in the Championship now and we want to make it proud again.
“ We want to achieve success.
“Every club I have managed I have left them in a better state than when I walked in.
“I like to think when I leave here we will be in the Premier League.”
Grayson’s departure from Deepdale was a hasty one on Thursday.
The relatively small time gap from getting permission to speak to Sunderland to him being announced as their new boss, has sat uneasily with North End fans.
“I reported at Preston on Thursday to take training there,” said Grayson.
“By 11am I was summoned back to the ground to say that Sunderland had permission to speak to me.
“Once I was aware of that I was in my car and up here very quickly.
“The talks were concluded very quickly. I am delighted to be here and looking forward to the future.”
Grayson revealed he took a number of calls on his way from Preston to Wearside as news spread of his impending job change.
“Once it got announced I was in talks, my phone – even driving up the A1 – was going.
“Calls were from players I have had at other clubs, other players I didn’t know appreciated what I have done as a manager, agents coming out of the woodwork.
“We have players in mind and will hopefully move very quickly on decisions to enhance the squad and improve it.”
Grayson says his budget at Sunderland will not be huge, with him describing it as ‘realistic’.
He certainly has work to do on the squad there with numbers quite low.
Said Grayson: ““It isn’t going to be the top budget or the bottom one.
“Whatever club I have been at, either Leeds United or Preston, Blackpool, whichever budget I have been given I have made the best of.
“I am a Yorkshireman and don’t spend money unwisely!
“That will be the case while I am at this football club.
““I want players that want to play for this football club.
“There are a lot of players that have been at this club that have probably come for the wrong reasons.
“The ones that are going to be coming will be coming to play football and improve this football club.
“It is a massive club, a big attraction for anyone who knows anything about football.”
Grayson has taken Glynn Snodin to Sunderland as his No.2, while it looks like chief scout Ian Miller will go too.
Steve Thompson and Alan Kelly have stayed in situ at Deepdale to oversee pre-season training.
While Grayson got used to his new surroundings on Wearside, North End were getting on with the task of finding his replacement.
Interest has been high in the vacancy, as you would expect with a club in the top half of the Championship.
PNE officials have been pleased with the quality of applicants getting in touch and want to move quickly in their search – but without rushing.
A rough timescale will involve a shortlist being compiled over the weekend, with interviews early next week.
Ideally, a new man would be in place by the back end of the week, perhaps in time for Friday’s friendly against Bamber Bridge.
But if the process went a few days over, it would not unduly worry North End.
That timescale would give the new manager a month to work with the players before the season starts against Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale on August 5.
A number of names are in the list of bookies’ odds, with the tag of favourite having already changed hands several times.
The early favourite was David Moyes but is seems they will not be going down the ex-manager route.
North End will consider managers both in and out of work.
Graham Alexander, Uwe Rosler, Neil Lennon, Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard, Paul Lambert and Nigel Pearson are among those to be linked and who feature high in the betting.