WHEN Martin Bain was looking for a new manager in the summer, he always knew this season in the Championship would be tough – just not as tough as how things have turned out.

But the situation, the lack of money made available for transfers in the summer, explains why Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes was only lukewarm on the idea of leaving his post.

In the end Bain opted for Simon Grayson, who knew from day one the sort of challenges he would face and was still willing to give it a go in a bid to take his career on to the next level.

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Now Sunderland, after ten years in the Premier League, sit second bottom of the Championship and there are genuine fears among supporters League One football could be on the cards.

The first fan festival was held at the Stadium of Light on Monday to try to repair a fractured relationship with supporters after a dreadful 18 months – and it will take more than that to ease the pain and frustrations on Wearside.

Bain said: “Everybody at the football club is determined to start climbing the table, I have a belief that everybody working alongside me does care about the football club, including myself.

“So it’s just a case of putting the hours in, people can be rest assured that we’re doing everything we can. It’s been well documented that there’s been an awful lot of change in recent times, 15 players leaving, ten new ones coming in, completely different coaching staff.

“For any club that's a big transition, for this football club with some of the circumstances that we’re working with, then it maybe makes it more difficult. When you see the hard work, determination and endeavour that Simon and we all bring to the party, for me that’s a tick.”

Despite the efforts and determination, Sunderland sit second bottom of the Championship after winning just one of their last 13 matches ahead of Saturday’s visit of Bristol City.

Bain said: “I look at my calendar and I see it’s October. We’re in October with a long way to go in the season with a squad of players who are committed. I spoke to Lee (Cattermole) and John (O’Shea) the other night and they’re two gentlemen with determination who don’t like being where they’re at.

“Nobody at the football club is happy that we are where we are in the Championship. I came into a difficult environment here myself. I met Simon and offered him the role and Simon was delighted to take the role. He came to the football club knowing what he had to handle because I’m a transparent guy.

"With all the managers I’ve worked with there’s no point getting someone to the football club and not telling them what the issues are. Simon’s come to a fantastic football club with a wonderful stadium, a great fanbase and a fantastic training facility and he has the determination to succeed and I have that in abundance as well.”

And Bain, who has no regrets about taking on the chief executive role in difficult times, has refused to even consider falling into League One.

He said: “It’s (relegation) not even a word that’s discussed internally, it’s not something that is at the front of our minds - that we could be going down rather than up.

“Everybody at the football club is determined to start climbing the table, I have a belief that everybody working alongside me does care about the football club, including myself.

“I came down here years ago with Alex McLeish to look at a player – I can’t remember who – and the Stadium of Light was absolutely bouncing.

“We went back to Scotland that night talking about the football club. I remember right from the moment we came through the front door of the stadium being impressed with the setup. I’ve been in the Stadium of Light when it is rocking.

“I watched on TV from the Middle East when I knew I was coming here, the night we stayed up, and I can still remember going for a walk afterwards and thinking to myself that I’d made the right decision.”

Grayson is hoping to have Callum McManaman and Marc Wilson available to face Bristol City after the pair returned to training following injury. Jonny Williams and Tyias Browning, though, are still struggling with hamstring problems and are being monitored.