Leeds United: Was Sacked Simon Grayson A Scapegoat Or Simply Not Good Enough?

Following weeks of rumours, Simon Grayson has been sacked by Leeds United after the loss to Birmingham last night. His hands were certainly tied, but did he have the managerial skills to sort it out?
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Following weeks of rumours, Simon Grayson has been sacked by Leeds United after the loss to Birmingham last night. His hands were certainly tied, but did he have the managerial skills to sort it out?

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Today’s sacking of Simon Grayson from his position as manager of Leeds United has seemed inevitable since mid-December and is symbolic of the prevailing bad mood that has completely enveloped the club from top to bottom.

My prevailing mood right now is one of sadness, because Grayson was clearly operating with both hands tied behind his back, having no power to keep his current players or bring in the players he would want to fulfil his dream, as a Leeds born player and fan, of managing the club in the Premiership. For this reason I would forgive Grayson for the constant reliance on short term loan players (for which he had a very poor success rate) and I would also partially forgive him for the continual plethora of ‘dead wood’ we seemed to collect each season, and can only shift from the books with a mutual termination of a contract.

Grayson had an immediately positive effect on Leeds upon his appointment in December 2008, and was the trigger required in getting us out of the murky depths of League One, albeit at the second attempt. He has overseen a gradual improvement in the team’s fortunes year on year until, sadly, this season.

With jewels in the form of Max Gradel and Jonny Howson sold from under him, Grayson has seen a squad that over-achieved last season slowly dissembled into a mixed bag of over the hill short term contracts, loanees and promising but unfulfilled youngsters. To what extent you can blame Grayson for the development of this situation is the key question.

Debates are raging amongst Leeds fans, and whilst there can be no doubt that the finances and long term strategy are not in place to firstly attract and then retain players of sufficient quality to get us in to the Premiership, the fact remains that we still have a talented first eleven (if not squad).

This, unfortunately, is the only change in the hierarchy of the club we are likely to see in the immediate future

This was showns last night against Birmingham. For the first 45 minutes Leeds played fluent attacking football for the first time at home all season, and should have been at least a couple of goals clear at half time. It was all set up for a rousing victory in the second half, despite Birmingham drawing level, but instead the fans were treated to Grayson’s Achilles heel once again; the art of defending.

The worm began to turn for me this season as I realised that, after three years, we still simply couldn’t defend. The points thrown away by sloppy defending are laughable, but the stark reality raises serious flaws about Grayson’s management. The frequent chopping and changing of the back four screamed out that the Manager had little belief in his players, and little structure to his game plan for defending. How much of this is down to his backroom staff is always open to debate, and personally I think Messrs Snodin and Miller are as culpable in this situation as Grayson himself. But like the players, the staff are Grayson’s appointments.

In summary, the sacking of Simon Grayson today is the pinnacle of the ongoing doom that is surrounding the club. I feel deep sadness for him because every Leeds fan wanted him to succeed and he was doing the best with what he had, but what he had wasn’t good enough, in terms of players and management skills. Too many times this season I have walked away from Elland Road thinking ‘I don’t think Grayson can lift these players’, and that comes down to management. His hands have been tied to a large extent, and you wonder how close he has come to ‘walking’, but he is also culpable of never solving the defensive issues, meddling with formations and substitutions with baffling frequency and ultimately not delivering in a results business.

Simon Grayson delivered some good times to Elland Road, but whilst the current regime remains in place today was inevitable. This, unfortunately, is the only change in the hierarchy of the club we are likely to see in the immediate future, and it was clear that we had gone as far as we could under Grayson. It will be interesting to see how a different Manager (the fifth under Ken Bates Chairmanship) performs with the squad Grayson has left him, and that will answer many searching questions that Leeds fans ask themselves. Maybe that will shape our immediate future and change the mood? Good luck Simon and thanks.

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