Tag Archives: Simon Grayson

Leeds Owner Cellino Confirms Meetings With Former Boss Grayson

Massimo Cellino has confirmed that he held meetings with former Leeds United manager Simon Grayson, who famously led the club to promotion from League One, before being sacked by former chairman Ken Bates, as reported by Simon Austin, who has written for the likes of The Sun.

He met with both Grayson and his agent, with Cellino reportedly joking that he was unsure as to which was the manager and which his representative, before bemoaning  the state of agents in England, which is unlike what he knew in Italy.

This does, however, confirm that Cellino held meetings over the job with the club hero.

He also clarified that current Sturm Graz manager Darko Milanic is negotiating his release from his contract with the club, having agreed terms and held meetings with Cellino.

Milanic formerly won a treble while managing Maribor in the Slovenian league.

Leeds face Huddersfield Town tomorrow in the Championship.

Why Huddersfield Town Had to Sack Simon Grayson


After just 11 months in charge Simon Grayson has become the latest manager to be shown the exit door at Huddersfield Town. Despite engineering Town’s return to the second tier of English football for the first time in 11 years and an initially encouraging start to life in the Championship, recent performances have meant that the decision to sack Grayson has come as little surprise to many.

In fairness to Grayson, he was exactly what Huddersfield needed to get over the finishing line in the race for promotion last season. Grayson’s coolness in the successful play-off campaign represented a marked contrast to predecessor Lee Clark. In the 2010-11 play-offs Clark let the emotions and the occasion get the better of him. After the semi-final victory against Bournemouth it almost felt like Town had already been promoted and this was mirrored by Clark’s jubilant celebrations during the post-match lap of honour. As a result there was a huge sense of expectation at Old Trafford among Town fans and it almost felt as if Town only had to turn up in order to get promoted. Under Clark, Town would be partially undone in the play-off final because they ‘played the occasion’ rather than the game itself. Grayson on the other hand was much calmer after the two-legged victory over MK Dons and the subsequent celebrations were much more restrained. Grayson gave the impression that there was still a job to be done and his calmness under pressure allowed Town to stay more focussed on the job at hand against Sheffield United in the final, and there was a greater air of realism among Town fans at Wembley than had existed 12 months previously at Old Trafford.


The play-off final victory was followed up by an encouraging start to life in the Championship with Town climbing as high as second in September. Grayson had Town playing genuinely good football, performances away against Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool particularly stood out, and there was a general consensus that Grayson’s Town team were playing the best football since the Steve Bruce team of the turn of the century. With this in mind it might seem strange that, within four months of all this Grayson now finds himself out of a job, so where did it all go wrong for Simon Grayson?

Though Town were never realistically going to be able to maintain this form throughout the season, Town’s performances have tailed off alarmingly since mid-November and the buck must ultimately stop with Grayson. Increasingly erratic team selections gave Town an unbalanced and unsettled look. As a result the attractive football evident in the early days of the season gave way to aimless long ball football which isolated Town’s most creative players, particularly Oliver Norwood who had been instrumental in Town’s positive start to the season. Perhaps the most bizarre of Grayson’s team selections – or non-selection – was his reluctance to play Scottish international left-back Paul Dixon. Despite performing well for Scotland, Dixon’s form did admittedly start to fade for Town. However, the way Grayson dealt with the situation was poor. Dixon was dropped from the team altogether for a number of weeks and instead Grayson chose to play young centre-back Murray Wallace at left-back. Decisions like this became more and more frequent as Grayson struggled to arrest the slump in form and only served to strain the increasingly fragile confidence.

By Grayson’s own admission, he had never been in a position where he’d had to manage a team on a long winless run before. This was particularly evident in recent weeks and with Grayson at the helm there were real concerns about where the next win was going to come from. The team were low on confidence but more alarmingly the players did not seem, at times, to be putting in the requisite effort or commitment. There have been claims that Grayson had lost the ‘dressing room’ and this would explain why performances have deteriorated so rapidly and so drastically. Instances like the Paul Dixon one outlined above suggest that everything behind the scenes were not completely as they should be. Grayson’s departure from Leeds came amid similar allegations and though it is just speculation that behind the scenes problems were impacting on performances, it does seem hard to deny that Grayson’s questionable man-management and team selections led to the team losing its confidence and consequently the poor run of results.


At this stage it is worth pointing out that I think Simon Grayson has been good for Huddersfield. The calmness and honesty he displayed, especially in post-match interviews, were a breath of fresh air in comparison to his predecessor. Furthermore, when he was appointed his remit was to get Town promoted from League One and established in the Championship. Though Grayson achieved the first part of this by gaining promotion, recent performances have brought Town’s Championship status into jeopardy. In a way Grayson has been the victim of his own success. The performances at the start of this season raised expectation levels and this served to further emphasize the poor performances that have become all too common since November as Town fans know that the team is capable of much better than has been seen recently. I do believe that Grayson has been, to an extent, let down by his players. As they proved earlier in the season, they are more than capable in terms of ability, but in recent weeks both performances and effort levels have been lacking.

A run of 12 games without a win in the league and the nature of the performances that accompanied them, meant that, even though Town were still 7 points above the relegation places when Grayson was sacked, Dean Hoyle had little choice but to sack Grayson. Grayson should be praised for his success, after all Grayson is one of only 9 managers in the clubs entire history to actually win something, and I am genuinely disappointed that things haven’t worked out for him recently. However, with no sign of form improving the decision to make a change had to be made before Town slipped even further into trouble. The early season panache has disappeared and performances against Leicester (6-1 defeat) and Watford (4-0 defeat) were quite frankly unacceptable and it is the nature of these defeats that really set the alarm bells ringing. Town also struggled in home matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool, who they had beaten so comfortably at the beginning of the season, and it was evident that something had to give. It was impossible to say where the next victory was going to come from and after having to fight so hard to get back to this level Dean Hoyle simply could not afford to let the current slump continue and risk an immediate return to League One – especially given the clubs recent financial figures.

It is obviously not a given that Town’s form will dramatically improve when a new manager is appointed, but history shows us that new managers often do provide struggling teams with fresh impetus. With regards to the next manager, Nigel Adkins is a name currently doing the rounds and would be a great appointment, however it remains to be seen if he would be prepared to go from managing a Premier League team to a side struggling at the wrong end of the Championship. What is crucially important is that Town look for a long-term replacement. Whoever Town end up appointing, they must choose someone who will help push them on to the next level and buy into Dean Hoyle’s vision for the club, rather than just a temporary stopgap who will help Town avoid relegation, if not the club will find itself in the exact same position in 12 months time.


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Does it make a difference?

Cast your mind back to this point around two seasons ago. We had come up from League One. Things were not perfect – Cardiff would come to Elland Road and win 4-0. We looked flimsy defensively, but there was a sense of hope around the club. The period before Christmas would lead to a rise up the table on the back of a long undefeated run. We looked better than we had done for years. To watch moments like our comeback against Burnley, it started to look as though we would storm the division – see the flowing movement culminating with Connolly’s cross and Becchio’s goal.

Then January came and nothing happened. Sure, we committed to the permanent signing of Andy O’Brien, but I’m sure Grayson would have ideally wanted to add to our relatively weak central midfield – after all, Howson, Johnson and Kilkenny started a majority of matches and aside from this, no backup was to be found. We had lucked our way into being promoted with two wingers that would eventually play in top leagues in various nations. Our primary striker was (and still is) vastly underrated by the fans. And yet we did not spend.

Flash forward to now. Grayson has gone and we have promotion specialist Neil Warnock in charge. Free flowing football does not exist at Elland Road. Well, except in the form of Hull. They’ve all gone. It doesn’t need to be restated, lest depression take over. Our team torn to pieces to fund…something. I’m not sure what exactly. The season began and we looked decent. The first eleven, at the very least, looked decent. Sam Byram appeared out of nowhere and has, through performance and effort and general dawgone ability, turned himself into an asset for the side.

But it’s not enough. Is the arrival of Sam Byram any different to the fluky development of Davide Somma, coincidentally loaned out to the right club and manager who taught him how to finish? Is it any different to Adam Clayton appearing out of nowhere and being the shining light of an otherwise average side in the first half of last season? Rodolph Austin has appeared and dominated, a genuine asset. Yes, he’s better than a Grayson signing like Fede Bessone was in his own position. But is Luke Varney better than Simon Grayson’s left wing recruit? He’s a third of the player Gradel was. Grayson brought in our only player left with genuine quality and deftness with the ball, Ross McCormack.

Look at Grayson’s Huddersfield thus far. There is no doubt that he has got them playing, despite the loss of their main goal threat. He managed them to a play-off final and brought them out the other side. He is at the very least, doing a ‘good job’. They will probably threaten the playoffs this season. This despite a complete rebuild to get the team playing according to his own principles. Grayson has shown time and time again that he can get a team playing and, given the right investment, challenging. Huddersfield Town will go far.

So this all brings us to the question. If Simon Grayson were still in charge of Leeds, would we be in any different a position? In reality, no. We wouldn’t have recruited Austin or Kenny, but that is the only genuine negative point I can see. Simon Grayson, were he given investment at Leeds, would have got us promoted to the Premier League. Neil Warnock will be a miracle worker if he can get this Leeds United side up the table, funded on a shoestring at best. Grayson already proved himself a miracle worker – sacked with a team 3 points off the playoffs last season. Warnock himself could not coax anything from that side. It was dross, and yet Grayson, hampered by a chairman more tight than any, still got them going.

I am not calling for Warnock’s head, nor am I saying Grayson should have stayed in charge. It made sense to take advantage of Warnock’s availability, even though it meant the loss of a young manager who I predict will go on to be a star in managerial quarters. I am simply saying that it does not matter who stands on the touchline, who coaches, who picks the team when Ken Bates is ultimately in control of the eleven players we can put on the pitch. Ultimately, Warnock will struggle unless Bates departs. Grayson and Huddersfield will probably finish above us in the league unless things change. They have a chairman who supports the manager, we have an aged ogre whose presence is ruining the club.

Ultimately, it wouldn’t have made a difference. Grayson’s departure still rankles to this day. I imagine if you ask Warnock his opinion of him, he’d probably consider him very highly. We’ve changed the man in the dugout, gone for experience and nous over youth and attacking flair, yet it won’t matter. I offer a single regret: that Simon Grayson had the poor luck to be manager of the club he loves whilst Ken Bates was chairman.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).