BRISTOL CITY have gone from relegation fodder to play-off contenders over the last six months, and Simon Grayson feels a lot can be learned from today’s opponents as Sunderland look to end their dismal home hoodoo.

The Black Cats face the seventh-placed Robins, aiming to boost their dreadful position in the relegation zone with fans wondering where the next win will come from.

Victory at Norwich in August remains Sunderland’s only league win this season after Grayson was forced to oversee an overhaul of the squad he inherited in the summer.

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Sunderland’s fans have grown disgruntled and many have become disaffected by the club’s disastrous home form; they hope to witness a first league win on their own turf for the first time since December 17.

Frustrations have grown during that period, but Bristol City have shown over the last year how things can soon change.

Lee Johnson, the City boss, looked to be on his way out before steering the club to safety by just three points last season. Now attentions have turned to a possible promotion push.

Grayson said: “They did it (stuck with Johnson) last year. Their owner is a Bristol bloke who has put a lot of money into the club and transformed the club. He has a real affinity and connection with the club and has seen what stability can bring to a club by keeping the manager.

“They’ve had a good start to the season without much change. I’ve said many times that changing the manager links to changing players and other things and it becomes more difficult. This club does not have stability because of what has happened in the past - ten managers in ten years isn’t a recipe for having real successful times.

“Any successful club has continuity and stability because people like that side of the game. Everybody knows where they stand from one window to another.

“I haven’t seen enough of supporters to get the view but I think they understood at the start of the summer that it was about having stability with the manager, chief executive and players. From my perspective having consistency in team selection will help us get results. Chopping and changing doesn’t boost anybody’s confidence.”

There have been a growing number of fans who have started to turn on Grayson after the poor start, although the majority remain appreciative of the difficult situation he has inherited. Ellis Short, the club’s owner, is reluctant to invest more into a club with significant debts, while he would prefer to sell up.

Grayson, whose side have shown signs of progress in the final third during the last three draws, has met with more fans this week and he believes he still has support in the stands.

He said: “In general I think sometimes people can voice an opinion and not know the true facts of what has gone on behind the scenes. Whether it's football, or the commercial part of the club, but once you hear from the horse's mouth people take your word for it and understand the real passion we're all showing.

“We don't pay lip service and if I say something or do something or Martin Bain does it's because we're trying to be honest with the supporters. Supporters aren't mugs or idiots who are easily kidded.

“We've been out there and we're telling them what's happened with the budget, with injuries and ultimately trying to transmit the positivity we've got in amongst the dressing room and the training ground that we're not a million miles away from turning things around.”

But form must improve or the fans will eventually turn on the manager and players in greater numbers. Bottom club Bolton are up on Tuesday before next weekend’s Tees-Wear derby at Middlesbrough.

He said: “I know I'm going to get plenty of stick but that comes with the territory of being a manager. You can be a successful manager and top of the league and some supporters will still give you stick, that's just the nature of football.

“Is there a reality of where we are? I think there's a lot of that around the place but we're certainly not going to be ducking from the fact we have to improve and get far better results than we are doing at this moment in time because a club like Sunderland shouldn't be in the bottom two as it stands at this moment in time.

“It's a long season and we are making small strides - supporters would like to see bigger ones but the Championship can change very quickly and a couple of positive results can really move us up the table and get this place in a positive environment.”

He has been boosted by the return to fitness of Paddy McNair. The former Manchester United midfielder has not played for more than a year because of a serious knee injury but, after a couple of appearances for the Under-23s, is should be on the bench today.

Grayson has Tyias Browning ruled out because of a hamstring problem, with Marc Wilson, Callum McManaman and Jonny Williams all available.