It’s hardly been the best of times over at the Stadium of Light during the past year, with relegation from the Premier League after a woeful campaign compounded by the loss of manager David Moyes.
Yet there was a silver lining to the Black Cats’ cloud on Thursday afternoon as BBC Sport reported that the club have been granted permission to talk to Preston’s Simon Grayson about the vacancy.
Grayson, who has been at the helm of Preston North End since February 2013, led them to promotion from League One and has since established them as a relatively safe Championship side.
And a statement coming from the club’s official website today announced that the 47-year-old will undertake talks with Sunderland about becoming their new manager, with Grayson keen on a switch.
Sunderland supports alike took to Twitter to discuss the news, and some were happy…
Very exciting times at @safc . Didn't think we could/would pull it off but looks like we have beaten many to get Simon Grayson in….
— Anth (@iamsmythy) June 29, 2017
Been looking at Simon Grayson managerial stats and they're actually quite good.
"Quite good" is something I would take as a SAFC fan.
— Stan Cume ? (@SAFCRABBIT) June 29, 2017
Others were visibly less pleased…
No takeover, no good players left, no manager (Simon Grayson!!!!), no money,low season ticket sales – typical #safc summer then??????
— Ian Dennell (@chorlton) June 29, 2017
Takeover falls through, Simon Grayson appointed as manager and Defoe's signed for Bournemouth, I've had better Thursdays.
— Stout (@Stout_SAFC) June 29, 2017
Sunderland getting Simon Grayson, they're staying in the Championship for a long, long time.
— Adam. (@SimplyMitro) June 29, 2017
Whilst some seemed to be verging on despair…
No takeover, Simon Grayson, Defoe officially gone to Bournemouth. What's the point? Just what is the point?
— Aaron Guess (@AaronAaronguess) June 29, 2017
I think there's more chance of Simon Grayson growing dreadlocks than there is us having a decent season this a year..
— kieran (@tmccormackk) June 29, 2017
In addition to the managerial news it was also announced that the proposed sale of Sunderland Football Club is off the table, with recent ongoing talks with a German consortium coming to an end.
Recruitment of a new manager had been put on hold whilst takeover talks were happening but it transpired today that American Short – run by owner Ellis Short – will continue their role in charge.
Sunderland’s official website released a statement detailing the failed takeover talks, claiming that the proposed takeover of the football club was “not in the best interests” of trying to move forward.
And the news didn’t please many Sunderland fans…
So, to sum up…
• Borini gone
• Takeover off
• Grayson in
• Defoe gone
Possibly the most Sunderland day ever. #SAFC
— Michael Graham (@Capt_Fishpaste) June 29, 2017
What do you think Sunderland fans? Is Grayson a good move from the club? Let us know below.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Dan Westwall.
Jordan Hugill: From the Dickens Inn pub to West Ham United
West Ham’s latest recruit Jordan Hugill has come a long way since his days spent in the Glenn Hoddle Academy and he is now ready to establish himself as a top flight striker, writes Ryan Smart.
Just over five years ago, new West Ham signing Jordan Hugill worked shifts in the Dickens Inn pub, situated in his home city of Middlesbrough.
Hugill had just joined non league Marske United on loan, still recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered whilst playing for Whitby Town.
The striker was originally supposed to go on trial with then-Premier League side Sunderland in 2009, but suffered an ankle injury and eventually went on to join the Glenn Hoddle Academy.
Hoddle spoke of his pride, on the evening of Deadline Day, at seeing the 25-year-old progress from that academy all the way to West Ham United, who he has signed for nearly £10 million from Preston North End.
Hammers boss David Moyes formerly managed North End, and still has close ties with the club.
He has attended various games at Deepdale this season, so will know the qualities that Hugill will bring to the table at the London Stadium.
Hugill leaves the Lilywhites with 30 goals in over 100 appearances for the club, 23 of those coming in the past two seasons, having joined in the summer of 2014 from Port Vale.
His recent move represents a huge profit for Preston, eclipsing their previous club record sale, that of David Nugent to Portsmouth for £6 million in 2007.
However, he will be a significant loss, especially considering he is their top goal scorer in all competitions this season with 10, eight of those coming in the league.
He spent two loan spells away from North End in his first season, his second at Hartlepool being an infamous one.
His four goals, including the winner against Exeter City that kept Pools in the Football League that season, wrote his name in Hartlepool folklore, despite having only been at the club for just over a month.
He made huge strides in the following two seasons, forcing his way into Preston’s starting line-up and, crucially, staying there.
Something that is uncommon in football these days is a deal that suits all parties, with this deal a good example of that.
West Ham are getting themselves the new striker they desperately needed and Preston get a good financial deal for the striker.
It also gives other members of Alex Neil’s squad the chance to press their claims to become Hugill’s replacement as North End push for the Championship play-off spots.
The club’s 3-0 away win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, without Hugill in the side, shows that they have players capable of stepping up.
The player himself wanted a move in August, having had a transfer request rejected on deadline day, before finally getting his Premier League move this window.
In terms of his playing style, Hugill’s hold up play is amongst the best in the country, with the striker an effective presence up front.
Andy Carroll has had plenty of success playing the lone target man role for West Ham, when fit, and Hugill will be aspiring to reach that kind of level.
His natural finishing ability does need some improvement, but working with the likes of Carroll and Javier Hernandez means he will be learning from some of the best in the business.
Hugill is still unproven to West Ham fans – he was unknown to some when he was first linked – but his work ethic and commitment to improving should bring them onside as he looks to establish himself in the Premier League.
Are Manchester United missing a trick letting Josh Harrop leave for Preston?
It was announced today on the Manchester United official website that up-and-coming young midfielder Josh Harrop will leave Old Trafford at the end of the month to join Preston North End on a full-time basis.
The 21-year-old – who made his debut during United’s final game of the Premier League season against Crystal Palace – will join up with Preston on a free transfer with a reported four-year deal.
He caught the eye of many on his one and only top-flight appearance, scoring the opener in a routine victory and frightening Palace’s defence with a display full of intent, trickery and speed.
Should Jose Mourinho have let the youngster leave?
Although it was never likely that Harrop was going to break into the United starting eleven for next season alongside the likes of Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, allowing him to leave Old Trafford on a full-time basis seems like a strange call from Jose Mourinho.
Allowing him time to develop in a competitive Championship is ideal at this stage in Harrop’s budding career – but to let him leave on a permanent basis could leave many scratching their heads.[interaction id=”594d720791c67496388a0837"]
His first-team debut may have just been a cameo performance but there was more than enough potential to suggest that he has a bright future on the biggest stage, already testing top-flight sides.
He looked right at home at Old Trafford, showing little sign of nerves and not looking out of place one bit on his way to a 98% passing accuracy, also supplying four crosses and testing the ‘keeper twice.
There was a defensive spark to his game too that makes him the ideal player to grow under the management of Mourinho, making four tackles in a stirring all-round performance against Palace.
People can dumb down Harrop’s performance for a few reasons – it was the last game of a long season for both sides, and neither United nor Palace had anything to place for – but the fact is he still impressed.
And he’s been impressing all season in the Under-23 side too, ending the season as top goal-scorer after notching 10 times in 25 appearances including a hat-trick in front of first-team boss Mourinho.
The confidence that comes with such a fruitful season – at any level – showed in his Premier League bow, taking his first Manchester United goal exceptionally well.
The composure to take his time and not rush into a shot was as if he had at least two years’ experience under his belt, drawing in the challenges before releasing a superb effort into the corner.
In a sense, Manchester United’s loss will certainly be Preston’s gain heading into next season, and Mourinho must have a firm idea of the direction of the Reds to allow a promising youngster to leave.
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‘Now there’s work to do’ -Three things learnt from Newcastle United 4-1 Preston North End
It has been a long and arduous journey for Newcastle United in the Championship this season, but they have finally secured promotion back to the top-flight. After a run of two wins in eight matches, everybody connected with the club were growing more nervous and it was important that they got the job done against Preston North End. The first 45 minutes were far from comfortable, but the Magpies ran out 4-1 winners in the end and confirmed their place in next season’s Premier League. Here are three things that we learnt:
Newcastle United have returned to where they belong
This will be widely talked about as it was the main story to emerge on Monday night. Regardless of the mixed views held about Newcastle United, the Premier League has been a poorer place without them this season. The Evening Chronicle reported last summer that Jose Mourinho was happy that Newcastle wouldn’t be in the Premier League this season and that says everything about the stature of the club. When things are going well at St James’ Park, it is one of the most difficult places to go in the country. This season hasn’t been perfect, but they have taken their first step in their recovery and they will pose a real threat next season.
In Rafa Benitez, they finally have a manager to guide them back to former glories. Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson are both prominent managers of the past, but the Spaniard could go on to match their achievements over the coming years, if he is backed by the board. The fan-base have been re-connected with their club over the course of this season and Benitez is the reason for that. At times, they have struggled in the Championship, but their style of play will be better suited to the Premier League. Their second goal tonight displayed how devastating they can be on the counter-attack and that is something that we will see a lot more of next season.
Enjoy tonight – but there is a lot of work to do this summer
They have had a great season and Benitez put together a squad good enough to achievement promotion at the first attempt. However, tonight underlined that further investment will be required this summer. Their defence was far from convincing and they will need to address that this summer, as they will face much better attackers next season. Jamaal Lascelles has been a real leader this season, but doubts remain about his ability to play at the highest level. Under Benitez, he has the right manager to help him fulfil potential and supporters will be hoping that he adjusts quickly to the Premier League.
Only Ciaran Clark, Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle have done enough to earn a starting place next season. The rest of the places will be up for grabs and there is no room for sentiment as they aim to push on to the next level. Benitez will know the size of the task ahead of him and he will be confident that he is able to do what is required. It is imperative that he is given the assurances that he needs to stay on in the job as nobody is better qualified to consolidate them in the Premier League.
Rafa Benitez has fallen in love with Newcastle United
After the final whistle, Rafa Benitez walked around the St James Park pitch, celebrating with his players while soaking in the adulation from the stands. It was the look of a man who was relieved and delighted to have achieved what he had set out to do since the club’s relegation was confirmed last season. It was a huge surprise when the Spaniard decided to stay and lead the promotion hunt. There were many who doubted whether he was capable of managing in the Championship, but he has proven them wrong and he was understandably delighted when the triumph was finally confirmed.
He was quick to shake the hand of everyone working for the club, from stewards to the players and it was clear that he wanted them all to be involved in the celebrations. Although he refused to announce whether he is going to stay next season, anybody watching tonight can see that he has a connection with the club. Benitez believes in the potential of the club and wants to be the man to unleash it. Based on the support he has received from the supporters and his achievement this season, Mike Ashley would be making the worst decision of his tenure if he doesn’t give the Spaniard what he wants.
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