Why Simon Grayson is a great appointment for Sunderlandby Mike Holden / 06 July 2017, 11:44Tweet
This time last week, Sunderland were in limbo. Five weeks had passed since the resignation of David Moyes and owner Ellis Short was struggling to find a replacement because of uncertainty of who would be running the club come the start of the season. Barely six months after Robbie Neilson had swapped the SPL for MK Dons, Derek McInnes turned the Black Cats down.
The situation now is infinitely more promising. The fans might have had their fingers crossed for new owners bringing a fresh injection of purpose and ambition but, all possibilities considered, they should be very pleased at the appointment of Simon Grayson. Whether it was the result of an exhaustive process or a decision the club stumbled upon, he’s a sound choice.
Nobody should be kidded by Short’s apparent U-turn and any notion that the Stadium of Light is suddenly a haven of stability. Uncertainty remains. If Sunderland get off to a stinker, rest assured Short will step back and let Grayson take the flak. Likewise, if somebody came in and tabled a serious offer, he would sell. Then Grayson would be looking over his shoulder.
But none of this will bother Grayson, and that’s a big part of why he’s the ideal man. According to Myers-Briggs personality profiling, he fits the mould of an ISTP type. They are the mechanics and engineers of this world, seamlessly moving from project to project, dealing in quick fixes and practical solutions. They live in the moment and learn from their environment as they go.
Grayson’s not a big planner. He’s not remotely academic and he doesn’t preach a particular philosophy. He works on problems, tackling them one at a time, in order of priority, whenever they come along. He doesn’t allow himself to become confused or distracted by ambiguity. He takes what he has - rather than what he would like - and he cuts to the chase, worrying only about the immediate issue at hand.
It’s precisely the same personality type that enabled Phil Parkinson to clinch promotion from League One with Bolton last season, in spite of all the excuses he had available to him such as an allegedly rotten dressing room culture, majority shareholders bickering through the media and the enforced sale of his most creative outlet, Zach Clough, to Nottingham Forest in January.
Any one of those things would have knocked most managers off course but Parkinson was in his element. They were simple realities he had to adapt to. If anything, the Clough transfer did him a favour because it gave him something to focus on - a new problem to fix - when otherwise the Whites might have gone stale.
Grayson has yet to mount a genuine charge for the Premier League but that’s mostly down to the limitations of the previous clubs he has managed. But he has won promotion four times from League One, with four different clubs, and largely held his own in the Championship thereafter, finishing seventh at Leeds and 11th in both of his last two campaigns at Preston.
Given the general trajectory of his managerial career to date, and with the relative luxury of parachute payments to play with over the next four years, then it’s reasonable to expect a comfortable top-half finish this season, a top-six finish the season after that, and promotion within three years. Those are not unrealistic targets.