Sunderland have the quality to survive in the Championship this season, but they should not believe they have a divine right to stay in the upper echelons of the Football League
That is the opinion of Simon Grayson, who was sacked as manager of the Black Cats at the end of October with his team 22nd in the Championship.
He had lasted just four months, and 18 games, in the job, and was dismissed only 17 minutes after a 3-3 draw with Bolton – who were then bottom of the second division.
Chris Coleman left the Wales national team to take up the reins at the Stadium of Light in mid-November, and he has claimed victory in only one of his three matches so far – a 2-0 defeat of Burton at the Pirelli Stadium.
His only game on Wearside was a defeat to Reading, meaning Sunderland’s record of not winning a single home match in 2017 remains intact – and the Stadium of Light hosts just two more fixtures this calendar year.
Still, no one expected an instant improvement following Coleman’s appointment, and there are enough games in the second half of the season for Sunderland to stabilise themselves in the Championship.
And this is what Grayson expects from his former team… as long as certain underachieving players start to put in the performances expected of them.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Grayson told Jim White on talkSPORT.
“No club has a divine right to stay up and not go down; we’ve seen in League One Leeds, [Nottingham] Forest and Man City.
“There’s been Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United… a lot of big teams have been in League One.
“But I do believe there are a number of talented players who are underachieving at this moment in time, and they need to take responsibility to get the results to get them out of trouble at this moment in time.
“So, one: they need to start winning at home – it’s been well-documented it’s nearly a calendar year since the last victory [at the Stadium of Light].
“I’m sure they know they are in a fight, but I think they have got the quality to get out the trouble.”