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“I wasn’t having that…” – Simon Grayson offers advice to Wrexham and Liverpool after Sunderland experience

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With football documentaries growing currently, Simon Grayson has been speaking about his experiences on Sunderland ‘Til I Die.

HIGHLIGHTS

  •  Simon Grayson expresses mixed feelings about football documentaries, acknowledging their ability to give fans a behind-the-scenes look but also recognising the intrusion on personal space.
  •  Grayson had control over the filming process and made sure certain areas, such as the dressing room, were off-limits to the cameras.
  •  Grayson praises the Wrexham documentary for striking a good balance by focusing on the owners rather than constantly invading the manager’s privacy, while suggesting that the Sunderland documentary focused more on the negatives.

Simon Grayson was manager of Indian Super League side Bengalaru until recently, but has managed many EFL sides, including the likes of Blackpool, Preston North End, Leeds United, and Sunderland.

Ultimately, the former midfielder, who was raised in the North East, would only oversee 18 competitive outings in charge of the Black Cats, winning on just three occasions before losing his job; but it was there that he became well-known to fans outside of the EFL.

The toxic environment on Wearside at the time was well-documented in Netflix’s ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’ series, which encapsulated plenty of the drama and poor choices behind the scenes of the club’s disastrous 2017/18 second tier campaign.

Since their relegation from the top flight during the 2016/17 Premier League season, Sunderland have been on a rollercoaster of contrasting fortunes, which included a four-year stint in League One after suffering back-to-back relegations.

Grayson oversaw the first part of that season, with cameras regularly seen in and around the training ground and stadium on matchdays as well.

It’s not the only football-related documentary following a team, with the likes of Man City, Arsenal, Newcastle United, and Leeds all putting out content covering particular seasons of those clubs. At the moment, Wrexham have their own popular series on Disney+ and Liverpool are currently filming for their own show at the end of this season.

Simon Grayson’s verdict on football documentaries…

The ex-Sunderland boss was not particularly keen on certain aspects of the filming process and had to push back at times when it impacted his personal space.

He said: “I think the documentary provides an excellent chance for fans to see what goes on behind the scenes at a club, whether it’s Sunderland or Man City.

“But there are also times when the last thing you want to be doing is another interview or not be your true self because there are cameras around the corner.

“It’s a bit of a nuisance. But I do understand that the documentary provides a good opportunity for fans to see it all, too.

“I had a say over where the cameras went. For example, they wanted to go in the dressing room, but I wasn’t having that, or there were times when I was with my family and in the car when I didn’t want to be filmed.

“It’s tough being a manager without having your personal space being invaded. You need a bit of privacy.”

He also provided a warning to Wrexham and Liverpool about what the content shows going forwards, but praised the job the Welsh outfit have done so far with their platform.

Grayson continued: “I’ve watched a lot of the Wrexham one and I’d say it works because it’s not as intrusive on the manager because it’s mainly about the two owners (Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney).

“They know not to shove cameras in people’s faces every two minutes or record training. Of course, there’s going to be odd clips at times but I think Wrexham got it pretty much spot on.

“Liverpool need to focus on portraying all the good elements of the football club. Whereas Fulwell 73, the production company of Sunderland ‘Til I Die were, ultimately, not always looking for the positives in the environment and were looking for negatives despite being Sunderland fans.”

There is evidently a balancing act between giving fans greater depth and insight into behind-the-scenes action, and crossing that line to what may be inappropriate.

In the majority of cases, these documentaries have been well received and a way to remember seasons and players at a particular time, but the situation at Sunderland that season made it difficult, too.

The perception of Grayson perhaps would be different without so much footage as well, which explains his stance. He has been a coach who has performed well in the EFL, particularly with Leeds and Preston.

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