SIMON GRAYSON has dismissed the notion that Sunderland are “unmanageable”, and insisted he has no regrets about swapping the security of life at Preston for the managerial madhouse of the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats return to action at Ipswich Town this evening, having slipped into the Championship’s bottom three as they lost to Cardiff City at the weekend, and Grayson is merely the latest in a long line of managers to have discovered the difficulties of trying to lead a club that appears to be in a perennial state of crisis.

Since Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy was dismissed from his role at Sunderland in March 2006, the Wearsiders have gone through 11 permanent managers in the space of ten-and-a-half years. The turnover has been remarkable, and the likes of Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill and David Moyes have all seen their reputation badly damaged by their spell in the Stadium of Light hot-seat.

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Grayson is the latest figure to have taken on the challenge of trying to turn things around, and while he arrived with an abundance of optimism and positivity, reality has already started to bite. Saturday’s defeat made it seven league games without a victory, and with Sunderland’s dire financial position having forced Grayson to make ten signings for a combined outlay of just £1.25m this summer, it has been suggested that the club is now impossible to manage.

“It’s easy to say that if you don’t fancy having a challenge,” countered the Sunderland boss, who left Preston to take over on Wearside in June. “But if I felt like that, then I wouldn’t be here.

“It wasn’t as if I was out of work and desperate for a job – I was in a good job, as comfortable as you can be. But that shows you I feel I can do the right thing here. If you get this club going in the right direction again, it can be as good as any club in the Championship, and beyond that as well.

“You can talk about the negativity and all the stuff that’s gone with it, but somewhere down the line, that has to change. The only way you do that is by working extremely hard to get everyone buying in to your ideas, from the players to the supporters to the owner, and everyone working below you or alongside you too.

“That’s what we have to do. We have to change the mentality of a lot of people that have been connected with this club, on and off the pitch, over the last few years.”

Niall Quinn famously talked of the “gremlins” holding Sunderland back, while Gus Poyet claimed there was something intrinsically wrong within the club’s DNA.

Grayson rejects such fatalism, although the uncomfortable atmosphere at Saturday’s home game – a mixture of anger and apathy – underlined the extent of the failings he is attempting to reverse.

Moyes likened the job to trying to turn around an oil tanker, but while his mixed metaphors referring to the Titanic ultimately proved prophetic in terms of his capabilities within the post, not all former Sunderland bosses are as downbeat or dejected.

“I spoke to Sam Allardyce and Martin O’Neill about it, and they were very positive,” said Grayson. “Although they obviously know what it’s like to work here and the downside to it as well.

“I’m a positive person, and my glass is always half full. My attitude is that I will get the club moving in the right direction again – that’s why I took the job on. I could have stayed at Preston after four-and-a-half years, but I came here because I wanted a big challenge.

“If I wasn’t up for the challenge of a tough job, I wouldn’t have done this. Speaking to lots of different managers, they all said they would love to be here, in my position being given this chance. I wanted that on my CV, that I could turn this around successfully.”

Saturday’s defeat means Sunderland have lost five of their last six games in all competitions, but three of those reverses have been by a one-goal margin and Grayson rejects suggestions that his team are a long way short of what is required to win games in the Championship.

“If you’re grading the players, we’re probably a C or a B at the moment,” he said. “We need to step up to a B-plus or an A. That will allow us to go and win games, and the players have to take the responsibility for that.”

Grayson is considering adding Duncan Watmore to the squad for tonight’s game, with the winger having played for 70 minutes of the Under-23s’s weekend defeat to West Ham. However, with Watmore having missed almost ten months of football after damaging his cruciate ligaments in December, the Sunderland boss will be guided by his medical staff.

“I’d have loved to have had involved on Saturday, and the week before,” said Grayson, who will also hand late fitness tests to Jonny Williams and Callum McManaman. “But as I keep stressing, it’s very much a decision we have to make for the right reasons, not just because we need a player back.

“We’ll see how h’s recovered from playing. If he needs two or three days to recover, that’s fine. But if he’s available, then of course I’d love to take him. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Sunderland (probable, 4-4-2): Ruiter; Matthews, Browning, Wilson, Oviedo; Williams, Cattermole, Ndong, McGeady; Gooch, Vaughan.