Simon Grayson wants return of "first-class football" for Sunderland after departure

Simon Grayson wants return of "first-class football" for Sunderland after departure

The Yorkshireman shared his disappointment as he spoke for the first time since his sacking from Sunderland AFC.

Danial Kennedy

Simon Grayson has expressed his thanks to the club and "all the fans, players and staff" at Sunderland AFC, with the manager stating that he hopes "first-class football" will return to the Stadium of Light following his sacking after 18 games in charge

Fans deserve success and first-class football 

Sunderland have struggled for a number of years which eventually came to a head last season as they were finally relegated from the Premier League, which saw the sacking of David Moyes and replaced with Grayson is more experienced than most in the second-tier. 

There was signs it could have been doomed from the start having only spent £1.25million in the summer having lost crucial players such as Jordan Pickford and Jermain Defoe, but fans' worries have certainly shown themselves. 

The Black Cats have only managed to one win thus far which has left them in the relegation zone of the Championship, pressure had been building upon Grayson for some time as fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers arrived on Wearside on Tuesday. 

However their 3-3 draw proved to be the last straw for the Sunderland hierarchy as Grayson was sacked 15 minutes following Tuesday's stalemate, and speaking for the first time since his dismissal he wished the best for The Black Cats. 

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks," Grayson said in a LMA statement. "To the club and all the fans, players and staff at the club's training ground and Stadium of Light." 

"Sunderland AFC is a huge football club," the coach stated. "And while I am disappointed not to be continuing as its manager." 

"I hope that the club will stabilise," the 47-year-old proclaimed. "And return the success and first-class football that the supporters and people of Sunderland deserve." 

Grayson added: "I would like to wish everyone associated with Sunderland AFC all the very best for the future." 

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Flattering to be linked with the role 

One process that has come far too often for Sunderland in recent years has been starting the search for a new coach, and it has already begun while the first-team is watched over by Billy McKinlay and Robbie Stockdale

There have already been talks of a possible return of the likes of Kevin Ball and Peter Reid, however it does seem that they will be looking to employ from outside the club and one of the favourites looks to be a former club youth player. 

Paul Heckingbottom has made an excellent start to his life as a coach with Barnsley finishing ninth last season, Heckingbottom spent four years at the club but failed to make a senior appearance but stated that it was "flattering" to be linked with the permanent role. 

“We had it last season and it’s part and parcel, when things are going well that’s what you want," Heckingbottom said. "If next January there’s X, Y, Z clubs linked with our players then it means we’re doing something right." 

“It’s flattering in that respect that things are going well and you can do a job," the coach proclaimed. "But other than that, that is it." 

“People in the north east who I already know are the first to have spoken to me about it," the Barnsley manger stated. "And that’s as far as it goes." 

“Other than being asked about it now," Heckingbottom concluded. "It’s not even in my head so that’s as far as it goes.”