SIMON GRAYSON was targeted to take over at Sunderland for a reason.

He might not boast Premier League football on his managerial CV, but achieving targets in the Football League has become his speciality.

The 46-year-old has delivered promotion at his previous four clubs. Whether he has been at Blackpool, Leeds, Huddersfield or Preston, he has taken them up, albeit into the Championship rather than out of it.

There remains one crucial achievement missing: Promotion to the Premier League.

Over the course of his time at Sunderland, that is what he aspires to deliver. In an ideal world, that will be fulfilled as early as next May. He knows that will be difficult given the spending patterns of the Wearside club’s main rivals.

While Middlesbrough have been spending £30m plus on just strengthening their forward line, Grayson has brought in James Vaughan from League One Bury for just £500,000 and Lewis Grabban on loan from Bournemouth.

Both players are more than capable of doing the job required, but the differences in budgets even in the second tier is clear for all to see. If Grayson is going to take Sunderland up then he will be doing it without the sums of money being spent elsewhere.

But he knew that when he accepted the challenge and the budget he has at the Stadium of Light is still far greater – probably three times greater at least – to the one he operated with at Preston.

Grayson knows, though, he needs to get Sunderland ticking quickly if they are to be a force this season. Having inherited a squad shorn or confidence and short of quality players following relegation from the Premier League, he knows that will be a difficult ask.

Those players who have stayed around are tasked with trying to revive the struggling club – and he knows a complete change of approach on the pitch is required from last season.

Where Sunderland have become used to sitting deep and trying to avoid defeat at the top level, they now have to play more on the front foot and control matches themselves.

Grayson has made no secret of his wish to focus on tightening Sunderland up first and foremost – which will be harder than he envisaged if last weekend’s 5-0 friendly defeat to Celtic is anything to go by – but he knows he needs to get them playing confidently again too; creating chances.

“What you’ve got is players who have probably played 90 per cent of their games in the Premier League, and it is a different game there, it is a bit slower,” said Grayson.

“You look at Sunderland last year, they probably spent most of their time without possession, so without it they’re sort of just slotting into holes and gaps to stop the opposition.

“This year I don’t want to play like that, I want to show we’ve got mobile players who will get up against people, win individual battles and second balls, because that’s the nature of the Championship. Our players have to be mentally right for a tough slog, getting ready for the higher tempo.”

And rather than face keeping some of the world’s best players at bay like the Premier League presents, Grayson knows the challenges will vary week to week in the Championship – and his players have to be prepared for it.

He said: “It is something we have worked on and made the players aware of, in the Premier League most of the time it is in front of you, it is nice, attractive football.

“It’s not that you don’t get that in the Championship but you will get different styles, people will ask questions. At QPR you’ll have 6ft 5in Matt Smith, you’ll have quick strikers getting down the sides, you have to be aware of every eventuality. It is a different mindset and a different game.”

Grayson has his ideas. And his ideas have worked in the past. Now he aims to make it five promotions with the five different clubs he has managed. How Sunderland need him to succeed.