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Simon Grayson - A victim of his own success at Leeds United

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By Stephen Clark

Thursday 02 February 2012

Simon Grayson was relieved of his duties as the manager of Leeds United on Wednesday, after just over three years in charge of the Elland Road club. The 42-year-old paid the penalty after a 4-1 home defeat to Birmingham City on Tuesday night, a result which left Leeds in 10th place in the Championship table, although only three points off the play-off positions.

A statement from chief executive Shaun Harvey on the club’s official website said: “We have 18 games to go this season and are still within touching distance of the play-offs. We felt with the transfer window closed we needed to make the change at this time in the belief that a new managerial team will be able to get more out of the existing squad of players and make the difference."

It ended a mostly successful spell at the club which Grayson supported as a boy and where he started his playing career in the late 1980s. After a successful career as a defender at Leicester City, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, Grayson came to the attention of Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, after successfully guiding Blackpool to the Championship in his first managerial position.

Grayson joined Leeds at possibly the clubs lowest ebb. In their second season in League One, United were in a dismal ninth position and on a run of five successive defeats, including an FA Cup humiliation at non-league Histon. Replacing Gary McAllister, Grayson guided Leeds to a club record 11 consecutive home wins and a place in the play-offs, but a two-legged defeat condemned United to a third season in the third tier. The pain of the defeat was used by Grayson to motivate his side the following season.

United started the following season in blistering fashion. Leeds won their first seven games of the campaign before running Liverpool close in the Carling Cup. At the turn of the year, United were well clear at the top of the League and had an FA Cup tie against Manchester United to look forward to.

The victory at Old Trafford will live long in the memory of all Leeds fans, the Whites earning their first win in 31 years against their most bitter enemies. From there, however, Leeds suffered a huge case of the wobbles, blowing their lead at the top and at one point dropping out of the automatic promotion places. Grayson’s mission was finally accomplished on the last day of the season, with a come from behind, 10-man victory against Bristol Rovers. Inevitably it was Beckford who scored the promotion clinching goal with his last meaningful action in a Leeds shirt.

The following season saw United without Beckford, who had joined Everton, and nothing but consolidation in the Championship in the thoughts of most fans. However by Christmas, Leeds were in the automatic promotion places and looked set fair for a tilt at a second successive promotion. However, for the second consecutive campaign, the club fell away in the second half of the season to finish seventh and just a place outside the play-offs.

Grayson achieved success on a relative shoestring, but has been unable to repeat the success this campaign. He can claim mitigating circumstances - the loss of key players such as Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny, both of whom left after failing to negotiate new contracts, and the sale of Kasper Schmeichel, Max Gradel and most recently Jonny Howson has severely weakened the squad. Despite this further damage to the squad, Leeds remarkably had still managed to find themselves in the shake up for the play-offs, but a poor run of results in December was the beginning of the end.

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By Leeds in Ayr on 06 February 2012 at 16:49

I am really sorry to see Simon leave. He has done a good job under difficult circumstances and always had LUFC's best interests at heart. The players have not performed well on several occasions this year and seemed at times to have lacked confidence in their own abilities. I hope that whoever comes in can motivate the players to perform to their full potential. Lets push onwards and upwards.

By Stephen Clark on 02 February 2012 at 16:46

WJohn 228 - A a season ticket holder at Elland Road for the last 22 years, I hardly feel that it is a view from afar! 500 words is not enough to talk about the inherent problems at Leeds United. You state that the loss of Howson had no impact, yet we picked up one point in the four matches after his injury, the spell which in the end seems likely to have cost Grayson his job. The impact was also psychological. The captain, a product of our youth academy and a fan of the club has decided that the Leeds United do not show the ambition to reach the Premier League. Grayson was not perfect, and had probably reached the end of the line, but under the constraints he has worked under he has done a fantastic job. We have improved our league position each and every season and he has provided the club with a huge surplus on transfers. It will be interesting to see what resources his replacement is given.

By samuel hayward on 02 February 2012 at 14:32

bates out!! grayson has done a amazing job with no money and was a puppet with bates pulling the strings there has not been a darker day over elland road for a long time all respect to simon and grayson and thankyou for your services

By wjohn228 on 02 February 2012 at 11:57

Clearly a view from afar but for those of us who watch Leeds on a regular basis here goes. Schmeichel was sold because he isn't a very good goalkeeper. Kilkenny and Johnson were ok but no great shakes and players of their quality are ten a penny. With regards to Johnson, Paul Lambert at Norwich is a fantastic manager and can get the best out of average players. The players who Leeds miss most are Beckford and Gradel. Howson hasn't played since early December because of injury so his sale has had no impact. Grayson and his coaching staff were clueless at organising a defence, clueless at tactics and demonstrably poor at motivating the players. In addition they wasted a lot of the budget on buying or loaning donkeys. It was instructive to note that Leeds were unable to shift any of these donkeys in the transfer window. Finally, Grayson always came up with pathetic excuses. He reckoned that the reason Zigic did so well against Leeds was because he was an experienced player and Leeds back four are young lads learning the game - its only to be expected that they would make mistakes. Well thats one viewpoint the other is that Leeds had no game plan for dealing with the aerial threat of Zigic and had not prepared properly for the game. They managed to get Leeds smallest defender marking the tallest player on the pitch. All that is down to the manager. Grayson won't be missed





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