To think long term in football is to think about the next game, and to be long sighted is to be able to see the glasses on the end of your nose. This sort of planning is costing numerous clubs who sign players after half a good season and seem shocked when they don’t work out or employ managers for their brief successes, rather than looking at why and where they previously failed, so it is no surprise that a decision made with no long term planning has ended in Simon Grayson losing his job at Huddersfield Town.
Grayson was hired with a single objective: win promotion from League One. He achieved that in May, at the first time of asking, and for that he should be applauded, but what was there ever a plan for what happened next? It never really appeared so.
At no point under his tenure did it appear that he would push us to play football that would entertain our fans or trouble the opposition. The limited long ball football that had caught teams out early in the season was suddenly worked out by everyone and as we pumped it long on to the heads of the grateful and often giant opposition centre halves it became obvious that Grayson lacked the courage to change a formula that had worked in the past and just wasn’t working now.
There were only ever short term solutions to long term problems with Grayson. Players who’d had a bad game were thrown to the sidelines, others were given less than a game to impress and there were of course those who remained in the team despite countless poor performances.
It was obvious from his previous management stints at Blackpool and Leeds United that he could give a team a short term lift, and he can unquestionably get teams out of league one, but his limitations as a manager rapidly catch up with him at Championship level.
It was his promotions at previous clubs that got him the job, but his failure to solve a number of problems at Leeds that meant that he was never my choice to take over as boss. He never sorted out an incredibly leaky defence there and had fallen out with a number of players and had clearly lost the dressing room long before he was eventually shown the Elland Road exit door.
Never has a manager come into the Huddersfield job in easier circumstances: charged with getting the club a promotion, while the club is fourth in the league, and with a chairman willing to spend big. It certainly wasn’t the unenviable task it had been for many in the past.
He didn’t appear to change much; the team didn’t play any better, but perhaps just got the luck they had lacked previously. Grayson is perhaps a lucky manager; winning a penalty shoot out after missing your first three penalties would certainly suggest this was a possibility.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t want promotion, or that I’m not grateful for that day in May, but he was never the right man for the long term good of the club. He had neither the footballing philosophy nor the force of will to make a team play genuinely attractive football. Ultimately for a club like Huddersfield where promotion to the Premier League is a pipe dream, the very least fans should demand is attractive football that will entertain fans.
He appeared to be a manager who would be popular with players as he doesn’t appear to care too much about raging at them and throwing tantrums after every mistake, while the fitness aspect of the game didn’t appear high on his agenda as the players looked unfit throughout his tenure, but after a while they also appeared to stop listening to him as they also looked utterly lacking in any form of motivation.
Pre-match the Huddersfield players looked casual and after sixty minutes or so; sluggish and like they wanted to be back in the changing rooms. It was fine while we were grinding out positive results, but over the past 12 games we haven’t won once, when you add to that playing abysmal football it never really looked as if we would break the cycle. When things are going wrong, you look for glimmers of hope, but unfortunately there weren’t any to be seen, and this appears to have cost a man his job.
As for who I would like to replace him, well Nigel Adkins is obviously the man I would like in a dream scenario as I think he’s probably the best lower league manager there is, but in reality I would like a boss who values good football above everything else, and has the courage to bring young players through, whether that man exists remains to be seen.
As for Grayson, he could be considered a victim of his own successes. A promotion followed by a flying start to the league raised expectations to a level he couldn’t maintain. His failure to build on this success has ultimately cost him his job, but when you hire someone to gain promotion with no plan beyond then this sacking was always a distinct possibility.
Goodbye Simon, I wish you all the best and would like to wish you well for the future. Unfortunately I suspect you’ll be gone, and swiftly forgotten by the Huddersfield faithful.