Simon Grayson – The Defence

Over the past few weeks I have noticed a growing disdain on the Leeds United message boards about the reign of Simon Grayson. Many have criticised Grayson for his poor record in the transfer market and his failure to build on an impressive first season in the Championship. I have even seen people discounting our first year in the Championship and referring to a poor back to end to our promotion season as proof Grayson didn’t have the minerals to lead Leeds back to the Premiership. On top of that you have the ramblings of our senile chairman attacking anyone in sight (Grayson, O Dea, Varynen) and a former Leeds ‘legend’ stroke puppet attempting to tarnish the reputation of a bright young manager. I’m just not buying it…

Following these unnecessary and unwarranted attacks Simon Grayson recently broke his silence through the BBC. Grayson sighted a lack of investment as a major contributing factor to our poor performances this year and I fully agree. After promotion to the Championship the majority of fans were speaking of consolidation, which seems to have been forgotten. People prefer to look at Norwich and say that should have been us; Well why should it? The name of our club? The fact is we over achieved in our first year, yes the campaign dwindled towards the back end  but for whatever reason we never invested in January to freshen up what was a tired squad.

Coming into the new season we all hoped we could improve on the previous year and get into the play offs. When Simon Grayson left we were three points off the play offs, where are we now? In the close season we lost Neil Kilkenny and Bradley Johnson, two major contributors to our prior successes. We lost Davide Somma for the whole season and on the final day of the transfer window arguably our star player Max Gradel departed. To replace the aforementioned we signed Michael Brown, a rusty 35 year old and Adam Clayton emerged. Despite all this we were still in and around the play offs for the first half of the season. In January we lost our captain Jonny Howson and the wheels came off. Simon Grayson was sacked a day after the transfer window shut having been once again denied the opportunity to invest in his squad.

Cue the arrival of Neil Warnock, the board believed he could get more out of the existing squad. To put it bluntly he hasn’t, nowhere near. Warnock has asked where the quality is, well Neil I can tell you exactly where it is. It’s playing Premiership football for Norwich and up front for St. Ettienne.

I truly believe if we had kept out squad from the previous year and added two or three quality players wed have taken this poor Championship league by storm. We weren’t too far off with the shadow of a squad we have now.

Before people start reeling off the poor signings of which there were a few (Bessone, Paynter, Connolly, Collins and the Fins) does anyone actually believe that Forsell and Varynen  were the players that Grayson identified to improve our squad? Most of them were brought in on short term deals simply to make up the numbers.  Rather than investing in proven players the management team were forced to search for a diamond in the rough (found in the form of Gradel and Somma) and herein lies the explanation for the large squad we apparently have.

In the interests of a balanced argument I wouldn’t say Grayson was without flaws. His man management skills were questionable, his tendency to make one or two individuals scapegoats for the teams poor performances (Bruce, Bromby, Connolly) and the Andy O Brien saga cannot be ignored. His post match interviews were often clichéd and lacking in substance whilst our midweek record shows there are clearly issues with the clubs fitness regimes. Many detractors point to his failure to shore up a leaky defence, well fair enough. You can’t have everything though, we played an attractive attacking brand of football and a fifty percent win ratio shows it was for the most part successful.

After this seasons failure i prefer to remember Simon Grayson for the good times and would argue that Neil Warnocks struggles with the current squad are not cause to criticise Grayson for building a poor squad but a reason to praise Grayson for achieving what he did with a under funded team. Anyway, what’s done is done and maybe it was time for a change but let’s not forget what Simon Grayson achieved at our football club and here is to hoping for a better time next year under Neil Warnock.

Reporter Jeff Griffiths

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  • Tare

    SG had his window of opportunities three times (yes spell it right 3), the best was last season when we had the 1st team capable to promote. This hindsight thinking is not my love of life or so to say cup of tea. SG will be a good manager somewhere else but to manage the club “LEEDS UNITED” it is totally different story and demands huge personality and skills in man management in order to face the challenge. Tare

  • RickHX

    I fully agree with everything you say here, at the end of last season all our midfield knew that they wouldn’t be at the club much longer, Kilkenny and Johnson both had been snubbed by Bates, Gradel was making big noises about signing a new contract, but was never offered one and Howson had been offered a contract that wasn’t good enough. Four good players who had grown together over a number of years and with Becchio and Snodgrass, had become two thirds of the backbone that all good sides need. Two sold on the cheap and two given away, what a waste

  • Henry.

    Simon was ‘one of us’ and had our support, even when things got bad.
    We were bad for a long time, with no end in site.
    Simon’s mistake was playing Ken Bates’ game, and not standing up for himself and us.
    He owed us the truth, but instead he continued to play the KB game.
    He made it easier for KB & SH to get rid of him without a fight.
    He let our best players leave, without a word of complaint, and had no plan to replace them.
    He should have trusted us with the truth and stood his ground.
    If he had he may well have still been with us.
    I am sure he has learned his mistakes, and will not fall into that trap again.

    • http://RITGK Jeff@RITGK

      In an ideal world maybe employees could speak their minds and in football tell the fans how it is. I’m sure Grayson was just as frustrated as we were with some of the players leaving/ failure to sign replacements but unfortunately working for a Stalin like dictator (referenced in court)meant he was very limited in what he could say. I’m sure most people who have a job will at some point want to ‘wise up’ their employer but very few do. Those who do will no doubt be looking for a new and to be fair the first time Grayson did start to speak out about lack of investment he lost his job the next day…

      • Tare

        In any modern workplace if you can’t face your boss in order to improve productive issues is a shit hole. People who works for you are the best experts in it, aren’t they? Tare

        • http://RITGK Jeff@RITGK

          Your right. In a modern, progressive, forward facing business the concerns of staff should be a priority. Unfortunately were talking about Ken Bates and Leeds United, more akin to an 18th Century factory in terms of management.

  • Peter

    It all went wrong last season. It was a season of consolidation. This course was I believe regarded by Grayson as a success. Look at the definition of consolidation and you will see how negative an achievement it was.
    Last year should have been one of development in the way that Swansea, Norwich and this season Southampton have after leaving Division 1. Whether it was a lack of investment or vision who knows?

  • Jimmy

    Totally agree with everything said here. Only thing id say is that while he did have to work with a shoestring budget, he should have focused his few resources on a handful of quality players, rather than the scatter gun approach of bringing in loads of freebies & hoping to find a diamond in the rough. Good luck to him at Hudds, that would make for two great derbies next season if he can bring them up.

    • http://RITGK Jeff@RITGK

      I think if the duo of Bates and Harvey were better negotiators we would have seen fewer, better quality players come in but we never agreed terms. Keith Andrews, Jack Cork and Lee Bowyer all mentioned but nothing came of it. Also who knows who was in control of the signings? This week Bates has been boasting of turning down a guaranteed 20 goal striker, well shouldnt that be the managers choice? Also i remember him taking credit for Nunez for he was doing well earlier in the year but hes gone quiet on that front now!

  • Matt

    It’s cited, not sighted.
    Why are you stil banging on about Grayson, he’s gone. Warnock should be given chance to set his own team up. If signings were forced on Grayson he should have had the balls to say no, rather than burying them somewhere around Thorpe Arch!! I don;t know your knowledge of football/ers, but some signings we have are piss poor. Only Clayton really stands out as a good purchase. If we build a casino some investor might come in, but they wont give a toss about the club. it’s time to stop fighting Bated (he isn;t going anywhere until a big offer comes in) and put that effort into supporting the team (re Speed and Warnock’s first few games). The fans need to be consistent, sod who owns us , we are Leeds….and should make opponents hate to come to the ground….like we used to.

    • Tare

      Totally agree here let us look forward and forget the past, this is my sentiment for the whole issue here. Tare

  • Joe

    No the last thing we should do is forget the past. Else we’re doomed to repeat our mistakes. Bates is the overall problem and he MUST go before the club stands a chance of competing for promotion. Grayson was statistically one of the best ever Leeds managers – FACT. Warnock is statistically one of the worst – FACT. I do not have high hopes for next season with cretins like Bates, Harvey and Warnock running the show.

    • Tare

      We will promote next season, this is my vivid and forceful opinion here. LEEDS UNITED’s stature is and will be one the finest stories in British football.Tare

  • http://Orangemail Bluesman

    A good well balanced article. I think that SG did a great job in very difficult circumstances. I also believe that he will learn from his experience. SG should have resigned some time ago and not been sacked. He had a reasonalbe side pushing for a play off place in the first year of the championship. Then all of his best players were sold off and the team he had this season are not as good, simple! He was asked to manage with bit part players, freebies etc and they are not good enought for LUFC. He should have said that his position was untenable and sided with the fans. By walking he would have thrown the spot light on the gruesome two some, Harvey and Bates. SG should learn from this. He listened to false promises and lived in false hope of getting a decent side together, he was then used as the scapegoat when he was sacked. I think that he also needs to improve his communication with the fans and take a different approach to motivating the team. Finally, as a manager you need to maintain the respect of people around you and be cleaner than clean! If the manager starts to act unprofessionally then discipline goes out of the window. He had lost the dressing room! Don’t forget that!

    • Tare

      He will learn from his mistakes but I do not see any possibility for him to come back to ER. It is a long and winding road before 1st of July is this year. We will see the outcome of NWs structure and ambition as a manager of the Whites. Tare