Simon Grayson sacked as Sunderland manager after draw with Bolton
• Sunderland dismiss manager after fewer than five months in charge • Sheffield United lose top spot, while Cardiff go back into second place
Sunderland twice came from behind to draw 3-3 against Bolton Wanderers but it was not enough to prevent the side equalling an unwanted record – or to keep their manager Simon Grayson in a job.
Within minutes of the final whistle Sunderland issued a statement to confirm Grayson’s departure after Paddy McNair’s late equaliser had spared them the ignominy of slipping to the foot of the table.
“Sunderland AFC has this evening parted company with manager Simon Grayson,” read the statement. “The club would like to place on record its thanks to Simon and his staff for their efforts during their time at the football club.”
The announcement came barely 24 hours after Grayson had insisted he was the right man for the job and deserved a chance to put things right after having “the balls” to take the role in the first place. However, the chief executive, Martin Bain, made his move with the cash-strapped club having concerns of a second successive relegation.
Bain said: “Simon and his team have worked tirelessly to achieve the best for the football club during their time here. While we hoped that Simon’s experience in the Football League would help us to a successful season, results have not been good enough for a club of this stature.
“In order for us to improve upon our current position, we believe a fundamental change is necessary.”
Grayson’s assistant Glynn Snodin has also left the Stadium of Light, with the pair having presided over 18 games, 15 of them in the league.
Sunderland have drawn four of their last five games but have not won in 13 league matches and have not collected three points at home since they beat Watford 1-0 in the Premier League in December last year.
They sit in 22nd place in the table – one position higher than they were before kick-off – with only 10 points from the 45 they have contested to date. Bain, on behalf of owner Ellis Short, will now launch the search for a 10th permanent manager since Roy Keane left the club less than nine years ago.
Grayson, who had enjoyed success with Preston North End during a spell that lasted more than four years, replaced David Moyes at the helm in June knowing there would be little money to spend and with a squad unfit for purpose.
He managed to bring in Aiden McGeady, James Vaughan, Jason Steele, Robbin Ruiter, Marc Wilson and Callum McManaman at minimal cost and Brendan Galloway, Tyias Browning, Jonny Williams and Lewis Grabban on loan but was unable to mould a winning team.
Even McNair’s late equaliser, which denied bottom-of-the-table Bolton victory on Wearside, could not spare him.
The Bolton manager, Phil Parkinson, said: “I feel for Simon. He is a tremendous manager, with a great record. Any manager who came here would find it a tough challenge. I had to turn Bolton round from a relegated team. Changing that mentality after relegation is difficult but he will be back because there will be a lot of people interested in him.
“I shook hands as you normally do. You normally go for a drink in the office. I will probably just get on the coach and give him a call later in the week.”
Sheffield United lost their grip on top spot thanks to a 1-0 defeat at QPR, with Idrissa Sylla’s early goal enough to secure a second home victory in three days for Ian Holloway’s side, who beat high-flying Wolves on Saturday.
Wolves go top courtesy of their win at Norwich, while Cardiff City are up to second as goals from Junior Hoilett, Omar Bogle and Danny Ward gave them a comfortable 3-1 victory over Ipswich Town.
Bristol City’s impressive away form continued as they stretched their unbeaten run on the road to seven games with a 2-0 win at Fulham. Lee Johnson’s side are fourth, two points clear of Derby County, who came from behind to beat Leeds United 2-1 at Elland Road.
At the foot of the table, Burton Albion remain in the bottom three after a 4-2 home defeat against Barnsley while Reading picked up three points thanks to a 3-1 over Nottingham Forest at the Madejski.
Hull City’s miserable recent run continued with a 3-1 home defeat against Middlesbrough, while Sheffield Wednesday returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Millwall.