Premier ambition drives Sunderland boss Simon Grayson

Sunderland manager Simon Grayson. Picture by Stu Norton.
Sunderland manager Simon Grayson. Picture by Stu Norton.
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Simon Grayson has Premier League ambitions – and he is aiming to achieve them with Sunderland.

The former Blackpool, Leeds United, Huddersfield Town and Preston North End boss is yet to manage a team in the top flight.

But the 47-year-old is aiming to add that achievement to his managerial CV with Sunderland.

The Black Cats were relegated last season after a decade in the Premier League, with Grayson chosen to replace David Moyes in the dug-out at the Stadium of Light.

It rankles with Grayson that more British managers aren’t given the opportunity to manage in the top flight unless they win promotion from the Championship.

Grayson cites Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche as two of the best in the business and he is hoping to follow in their footsteps by achieving his ambition with Sunderland, who are looking to bounce back at the first opportunity.

“A big ambition of mine and one I have mentioned many, many times,” said Grayson, when asked about his Premier League hopes.

“It is a sad indictment of British football, to a certain degree, that the only way a British manager can get a job in the Premier League is to take a club up from the Championship.

“I don’t see too many Championship managers getting poached to manage in the Premier League and I would like to think managers should be given the best opportunity.

“Two of the best Premier League managers are British-based – Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche – but they only got that opportunity because they took teams up.

“It is an ambition and every manager in the Championship knows if he wants to manage in the Premier League the only way to do it is by taking a team up and that is an ambition of mine.”

A seasoned manager, Grayson has taken charge of more than 600 games and admits that the chance to take charge at the Stadium of Light was one he simply couldn’t turn down.

Friends, colleagues and former players have been quick to wish him well at Sunderland – with Grayson determined to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

“My phone has been red-hot with players, managers and friends wishing me good luck and say I’m deserving of the opportunity to manage this club on such a big stage,” added Grayson, who is currently in Austria with the Sunderland squad on a training camp.

“I will give everything that is required to be successful.”

Sunderland face Bury at Gigg Lane on Friday night in their first pre-season friendly ahead of a busy programme of games before the Championship opener against Derby County at the Stadium of Light on Friday, August 4.

* Sunderland Under-23s will play six pre-season friendlies ahead of their Premier League 2 campaign.

Elliott Dickman’s Under-23 squad is currently over in Austria with the first team, but they face a busy pre-season programme on their return to the UK.

The programme kicks off against Sunderland RCA on Monday, July 10 at Meadow Park (7pm kick-off) before facing Morpeth Town four days later at Craik Park (7pm) on Friday, July 14.

Dickman’s side return to the Academy of Light for three more friendlies against Barnsley on Friday, July 21 (7pm), Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday, July 26 (12.30pm) and Huddersfield Town on Saturday, July 29 (noon).

The final game sees them take on FA Vase winners South Shields at Mariners Park on Wednesday, August 2 (7.30pm).