After just one league win all season, Sunderland parted company with manager Simon Grayson after a 3-3 draw with Bolton on Tuesday evening. He was informed of his sacking just 15 minutes after the final whistle, a clear indication that the Stadium of Light board saw the game as a must-win for the ex-Preston boss.
Regardless of whether his sacking was deserved or not, the main question surrounds where Grayson’s next job will be.
He is renowned as a specialist in getting teams out of League 1 and into the Championship, having achieved this feat with four separate teams – Leeds, Preston, Blackpool and Huddersfield – and there is a good chance that he could take that route back into management.
Preston fans, in particular, will never forget their 4-0 win over Swindon under Grayson at Wembley in 2015, a Jermaine Beckford hat trick returning them to the Championship for the first time in four years.
He stabilised Preston in the Championship, with two successive 11th placed finishes, before Sunderland came calling last summer.
Grayson is known as a cult hero at Leeds for his successes there and was sacked with the club just one place off the Championship play-offs.
He is probably most fondly remembered not only for promotion at Elland Road, but also their infamous 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2009/10 FA Cup.
In terms of Sunderland, given their problems off the field, it could be argued that success this season was never going to be likely, regardless of the manager in charge.
The club found it difficult to offload players like Lamine Kone and Jack Rodwell, both on Premier League wages, and Grayson was given a small budget to spend in comparison to the likes of Aston Villa, Birmingham and Wolves, the latter of which spent £15 million on Porto’s Ruben Neves, alone.
As a result, Grayson has had to rely mostly on loan signings, even though he spent nearly £1 million on Bury’s James Vaughan.
One of those loan signings, Lewis Grabban, has undoubtedly been a brilliant acquisition for the club, scoring eight times despite Sunderland sitting in the relegation zone.
Grayson also brought in Aiden McGeady, having worked with the Republic of Ireland international last season at Preston, with the 30-year-old impressing so far since joining the club.
Despite Grayson’s sacking from Wearside, there will surely be numerous clubs interested in appointing the 47-year-old when vacancies become available.
If he wanted a quick return to management, one of those clubs could be Bury, a side that currently contains ex-Preston players Chris Humphrey and Beckford, the latter of whom is a close friend of Grayson’s.
The Shakers are currently just one point off bottom in League 1 but are backed by an ambitious chairman in Stewart Day and made several marquee signings this summer, fighting off competition from Championship clubs to secure the signature of midfielder/forward Harry Bunn from Huddersfield.
There is a good possibility, however, that Grayson may take time out of the game before deciding on his next move.
He spent four and a half years at Preston, having joined in February 2013, and has endured a difficult four months at the Stadium of Light.
His reputation of stabilising clubs in the Championship, bar Sunderland, will surely give him an opportunity to discuss a Championship job if such a vacancy came up.
Grayson has spent the majority of his career working in the North West and if a position did come up in the area in particular – likely at some point given the amount of Football League clubs in the area – he would be near the top of any shortlist drawn up.
John McGinn is the kind of signing Sunderland need to bounce back
Sunderland’s transfer policy since relegation from the Premier League has been something of a mixed back and with hugely disappointing results. With Jack Ross now installed as manager, that could well change and early indications suggest that he may look back north of the border as he looks to strengthen with the signing of John McGinn.
Reports from The Scottish Sun say that the Black Cats may move for the Hibernian holding midfielder who has been hugely impressive in 2017/18 and earner a breakthrough into the Scottish national team.
Sunderland may be forced to pay as much as £3 million to sign him, as astronomical fee in comparison to what many League One sides would be able to afford, but with the benefit of parachute payments, it could be one of the wisest possible investments for the future.
The 23-year-old has bags of potential and whilst £3 million is a sizeable fee, it comes as a bargain given that he is entering into the final year of his contract at Easter Road, and if a deal can be done it would be a major coup given that Brighton and Bournemouth, both in the top flight, have been tracking his progress.
A tough tackler in the middle of the park, McGinn would add the kind of steel and grit that was so sorely lacking as Chris Coleman’s team surrendered to relegation in their first season back in the Championship, and with youth on his side and time to improve he may well be sold on for a profit further down the line or become a leader for this side as they climb back up the footballing ladder.
It won’t be easy for Ross to secure such a signing, but it is the right kind of deal that the club should be looking to make. After making such high profile errors like the signing of James Vaughan, prioritising EFL experience and a proven track record over youthful energy and potential, McGinn shows that the club are beginning to put things right.
Sunderland should make move for £50k-a-week Pierre-Michel Lasogga
The German is leaving Leeds United and Sunderland need new recruits.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga will not be heading back to Leeds United this summer. The Hamburg striker spent last season on loan at Elland Road, as a replacement for Chris Wood. the one-time German international hopeful was looking like a very good signing at the start of his Leeds career, but his form always proved to be streaky.
In the end, his inconsistency did not impress new manager Paul Heckingbottom and he found himself out of the side. With his wages high, Leeds decided not to keep him on board for next season.
But what about other clubs in England. According to Hamburger Morgenpost, as relayed by Sport Witness, there is English interest in the striker and it appears Hamburg, who were recently relegated to the 2. Bundesliga, believe the English market is the best for finding Lasogga a new team.
So who might want to bring the striker in?
One team who should be interested are League One newbies Sunderland. The Black Cats suffered a second successive relegation last term and now find themselves looking to fight for promotion back to the Championship.
However, it has been a progressive summer at the Stadium of Light so far. The club is under new management in Jack Ross and new ownership, with hefty funds being promised to fuel a promotion push.
Lasogga would be a perfect option for Sunderland, who need to strengthen their attacking options. The German has proven, albeit inconsistently, that he can find the net in English football and that was in the Championship. In the league below, he could be a major force to be reckoned with and could be the man to fire Sunderland back up.
It could be that Lasogga might see League One as a step below him, but playing for a club the size of Sunderland should make those issues subside.
Lasogga’s wages will be an issue for anyone in English football. It has been reported that the striker is on around £50,000-a-week with the German side, an amount that Sunderland should not even contemplate spending.
The Black Cats could, however, pay a portion of those wages, either on a loan deal or if snapped up permanently.
Lasogga would be a brilliant addition to the Sunderland attack and one the Wearside club should be entertaining this summer.
Talented Jack Ross could be the man to end the misery at Sunderland
Highly-rated manager Jack Ross was officially unveiled as Sunderland boss today, and he could be the man that orchestrates the start of a comeback for one of football’s biggest fallen giants.
The former St Mirren poss was permitted to speak to the Black Cats about their vacant manager position after the club suffered back-to-back relegations, seeing them fall to Sky Bet League One.
Ross guided the Paisley side to the Scottish Championship title this season and had also had talks with English second-tier club Ipswich Town, as reported by the East Anglian Daily Times.
The former Hartlepool right-back will leave a legacy at St Mirren after he guided the Buddies back to the promised land of the Scottish Premiership.
His departure will undoubtedly break St Mirren’s fans hearts. However, the job at Sunderland has obviously proven too difficult to turn down.
After the Black Cats were finally cleared of all their substantial debt, Ross will feel he is the man who can finally steer the club back in the right direction.
The 2018 PFA Scotland manager of the year is young and charismatic and could finally be a figure worthy of Sunderland supporters getting behind.
Ross is undeniably still a risk for Sunderland considering he has zero managerial experience in England.
However, the Scottish manager already has a promotion on his CV, and Black Cats supporters should see themselves fortunate that such a promising candidate has filled the vacant position.