Maja Earns Grayson Praise After Bury
Simon Grayson's first game in charge ended in victory after Sunderland came back from two down to secure a 3-2 win against Bury on Friday evening.
Grayson, who made wholesale changes during the interval at Gigg Lane for the second half, looked as if he could get off to a losing start - an all too familiar feeling for Sunderland over the past year or so.
Sunderland started positively but Bury went ahead through Andrew Tutte before Callum Reilly added the second. Jack Rodwell pulled one back for the Black Cats before half time.
18 year old forward Josh Maja drew Sunderland level before grabbing his second to secure a morale boosting - and rare - win four minutes from time.
Referee: Darren Handley
Attendance: 2,110 (724)
Sunderland XI [first-half]: Mannone, Jones, Kone, Djilobodji, Matthews, Cattermole, Rodwell, Molyneux, Honeyman, Greenwood, Gooch.
Sunderland XI [second-half]: Mika, T Robson, Kone, Djilobodji, Love, Gibson, E Robson, Honeyman, Gooch, Khazri, Maja.
Having only recently arrived from Preston, Grayson hasn't had a lot of time to implement his ideas into the squad. But he was happy enough with what he saw, which again highlighted what he needs to add to the squad.
Grayson told the Official Website: 'We pretty much got from it what I thought we would to be honest. We`ve not had a chance to do too much work in terms of the team shape; there was some decent stuff at times and there was some poor stuff at times, but I don`t think it`s any different to what I think we needed to work on and what I we need to add to the squad.'
Winning isn't the main thing when it comes to pre-season friendlies but Grayson went on to say he knows this could help breed confidence, given a battering last season.
'Ultimately, the players had a good attitude and worked hard, pre-season isn`t about winning matches but it can breed confidence and when you`ve not won for a long time it can certainly help with belief. I thought the tempo was a lot better in the second-half - we passed forward a little bit more, we asked more questions and defensively looked a lot sounder.'
Mata's brace saw the teenager continue to impress after catching Grayson's eye during the recent training camp in Austria. He wasn't alone though as Ethan Robson was also singled out for his performance in midfield.
'I said the other day that Josh [Maja] is a player that`s impressed me with his work and what he`s done, so he`s got an opportunity today and he took his goals really well. I thought his link-up play was good as well which needs to be part of his armoury and I thought the two centre halves did well, and Ethan Robson did well in the midfield so it was pleasing for the youngsters.'