SIMON GRAYSON has vowed to return Sunderland to where they should be after being appointed as the club’s new manager.
The 47-year-old former Leeds United player and manager, has signed a three-year contract after the relegated Black Cats were given permission to speak to him on Thursday and will meet his players for the first time on Friday before flying off to Austria with them for a pre-season training camp.
Sunderland is so fortunate to have such tremendous support and I want to give these fans a team they can be proud ofSimon Grayson
A club statement said: “Sunderland AFC is delighted to welcome Simon Grayson as the club’s new manager. Grayson moves to Wearside after putting pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Black Cats.
“A seasoned manager who has taken charge of over 600 games, Grayson has vast experience of building and improving teams he takes charge of. He arrives at the Stadium of Light after four years at Preston North End, where he took the club from the lower reaches of League One into the Championship.”
Grayson, who also managed at Town following his sacking by Leeds, will be joined at the Stadium of Light by No 2 Glyn Snodin, another former United player and coach, while first-team coach Robbie Stockdale and goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker remain in post.
More than five weeks after David Moyes’ departure, Sunderland turned to Grayson in something of a whirlwind after revealing that takeover talks with a series of interested parties had ended with no sale agreed, leaving current owner Ellis Short still at the helm.
The new manager said: “I am delighted to come to Sunderland, a club with such wonderful history and tradition. I’m excited by the opportunity to manage this club and I want to bring the good times back.
“Sunderland is so fortunate to have such tremendous support and I want to give these fans a team they can be proud of.
“I want a group of players full of desire, team spirit and a never-say-die attitude - that’s the very least that we should expect from a Sunderland player.
“The Championship is a demanding league, but with all the attributes I have highlighted, then our aim has to be to get the club back to where it belongs as quickly as possible and I can’t wait to get started.”
The squad Grayson has inherited from Moyes returned for pre-season training on Thursday and will travel to Austria on Saturday, and the manager’s appointment could hardly be more timely.
Chief executive Martin Bain, who initially offered the job to Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes only to see him turn it down, was delighted to have finally made a breakthrough after being hampered in his efforts by the uncertainty surrounding the club.
Bain said: “We warmly welcome Simon to Sunderland. From the outset, he demonstrated a tremendous enthusiasm for the job, and his desire and ambition to make this football club better shone through.
“Wherever he has managed, he has improved those clubs, which is a clear indication of his ability to build a team on solid foundations and create the right environment for success. These are certainly attributes that we as a football club want to embrace as we embark on our own re-building process with him at the helm.
“Finally, in welcoming Simon, I would also like to extend my thanks to the chairman and board of Preston North End. I know they were understandably keen to retain his services and we thank them for their cooperation during the discussion process.”
Grayson will start work with his employers desperate to restore a measure of normality after a stormy period in the cub’s recent history.
What assurances he has received over financial backing for his re-building project remains to be seen with the club having reported a net debt of £110.4million for the year to July 31, 2016.
Striker Jermain Defoe followed Jordan Pickford out of the exit on Thursday when he completed his move to Bournemouth and Fabio Borini is closing to sealing his switch to AC Milan.
Re-shaping the squad will be Grayson’s first focus, although the impending departures of chief football officer Simon Wilson and chief scout Mick Doherty set to leave in an overhaul of the club’s recruitment set-up may not help in the short term.