'It honestly doesn't bother me': Blackpool boss Simon Grayson on what response he expects from Sunderland fans tomorrow

Simon Grayson insists he's not paid any thought to what sort of reaction he'll receive from the Sunderland supporters when he takes his Blackpool side to the Stadium of Light.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 3:11 pm
Updated Friday, 13th December 2019, 3:12 pm
Grayson returns to the Stadium of Light this weekend for the first time since his sacking in 2017
Grayson returns to the Stadium of Light this weekend for the first time since his sacking in 2017

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The 49-year-old was sacked by the Wearside club back in 2017 after winning just one league game during his four-month tenure.

Asked if he's looking forward to returning to his old stomping ground, the Blackpool boss said: “It was a brief stay, as people will certainly be aware of.

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“I’m looking forward to going into the next game because we’re in a decent run of form and it’s a game we’d like to go and win.

“Regardless of me being there in the past, that doesn’t really play any significance to me. There’s no extra spice or anything like that.

“It’s about what the players need to go and do to prepare in the same manner we’ve prepared for every game this season and go there and try and enjoy the experience of going to the biggest club in League One, with the biggest ground and the biggest fanbase.

“There’s some fantastic facilities there so it’s a big coup for any team that goes up there and wins.

“But we certainly go there in good spirits knowing that we’re capable of getting the victory.”

Sunderland are now in their second season in the third tier, having been beaten by Charlton Athletic in the play-off final back in May.

The Black Cats are now struggling in 11th place in the division, five points adrift of the play-offs.

“Nobody has a divine right to get out of the division you’re in, it happens for a reason," Grayson added.

“There are other clubs to a similar sort of size to Sunderland that have stayed in League One for many years - Leeds United being the biggest example I know. But you’ve also got Man City, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, the list is endless.

“Just because you’re a big club with nice facilities, a big stadium and a lot of supporters doesn’t guarantee you drop into a division and just get out of it.

“You have to have a lot of things go your way. You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to have unity within the group and you’ve got to have supporters on side.

“You’ve also got to deal with the expectancy level that comes with a sizeable club like Sunderland and how it’s a cup final for the opposition, because that’s what it is more times than not.

“People will like to go to the Stadium of Light, see the surroundings and see a big feather in their cap if they manage to get a result up there.”

When quizzed on what sort of response he's expecting to get, Grayson said: “Honestly it doesn’t bother me, I wasn’t there long enough to build up too many relationships anyway.

“I’m just focused on my team and what we need to go and do. It honestly has no extra significance this game compared to going to Gillingham, to Wimbledon, Wycombe or wherever.

“It’s about what we can do as a team. We’re in a good position in the league and we want to keep building and we want to win a football match to help us catch those teams that are above us in the division.”