Can Brian McDermott Emulate Leeds Utd Hero Simon Grayson? – by Rob Atkinson


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Simon Grayson: became United manager 5 years ago

Being the realistic and fair-minded character he undoubtedly is, United manager Brian McDermott would doubtless acknowledge the task he faces in matching the achievements of his last-but-one predecessor at Elland Road, Simon Grayson.

Grayson moved into the United hot-seat just before Christmas of 2008 after an acrimonious parting of ways with his former employers Blackpool – coincidentally United’s next opponents on Boxing Day.  His record at Bloomfield Road had been one of success, attaining promotion to the second tier for a famous old club which had been in the doldrums for far too long.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because the description could just as easily have been of Leeds United, and Grayson was destined to repeat his promotion feat at Elland Road, dragging comatose giants Leeds out of their humiliating third division berth in his first full season – despite having to work under the strictures imposed by a certain Master Bates.

There are some who seek now to belittle the scale of Grayson’s achievements, preferring to point at the lows of life in the Championship where Leeds had started so brightly.  But they haemorrhaged talent, failed to strengthen and fell rapidly by the wayside over the next couple of seasons, amid a welter of huge defeats.  That looks bad on any manager’s CV – but account has to be taken of the way in which Simon Grayson’s hands were tied in terms of his ability to improve the squad.   His career after Leeds has encompassed a third promotion from the third level of English football as he took Huddersfield up at the first time of asking.  Currently, he looks to be on course for a fourth such success, his current charges Preston North End lodged comfortably in the play-off zone despite a heavy loss to rivals Brentford at the weekend.

But it is for his success in reviving a moribund Leeds United, despite the Bates factor, for which Simon Grayson remains best-known.  To turn around a situation of seemingly terminal decline – after a succession of managers had failed to impose a big-club resilience on a lowly league – is the jewel in the crown of Grayson’s coaching career, especially as his promotion success was gilded with the fantasy-football type achievement of dismissing the champions from the FA Cup, at their own ground, in the third round.  For this alone, he would merit a prominent place in Leeds United’s turbulent but occasionally glorious history.

Simon Grayson lifted Leeds out of League One, elevating us to the Championship, in only his first full season.  It’s the only promotion he’s achieved outside of play-off football (note to Messrs Haigh and McDermott: Leeds United just don’t do play-offs) – and it’s clearly something still very close to his heart.  To win promotion with your boyhood favourites as well as slaying that club’s most despised dragon in its own lair – that’s the stuff of Boys’ Own fiction, made reality by a man as modest and dedicated as any we’ve been lucky enough to have associated with Leeds United AFC.

If Brian McDermott is to emulate Grayson’s first-full-season achievement, then it would have to be this season.  That. perhaps, would be unrealistic – given the fact that Brian has had his own problems of ownership and finances to deal with since moving in at United last April.  Clearly, whenever McDermott manages to guide Leeds back into the top flight, he will be hailed a hero and rightly so.  Until that happens, Simon Grayson remains, for me anyway, the third-greatest Boss at Elland Road behind the unassailable Don and his nearest rival Sergeant Wilko.  Some will disagree with that assessment – but really, the job of hoisting Leeds back from their lowest ebb was so massively important to us all that the person who managed it deserves appropriate recognition.

As Brian McDermott heads towards his first anniversary as Leeds boss in April, he might reflect that by then he’ll have a very good idea of what is possible in this current campaign.  A lot will depend on the currently-mooted takeover being approved by the Football League in time for Leeds to strengthen ahead of the run-in.  If they do that, and if the admirable “McDermott effect” continues to guide the club’s progress, then maybe – just maybe – he pull off a promotion that would see him elevated into the company of United’s greatest managers: Revie, Wilkinson – and Simon Grayson.

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38 responses to “Can Brian McDermott Emulate Leeds Utd Hero Simon Grayson? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. We never saw the best of Grayson. He was disadvantaged and thwarted at every turn. Simon Grayson is a very good manager but he made a mistake and things got away from him in the end. He would never have made any further impact with Leeds United however. Not under the regime that existed at that time. No manager would. BM is also an excellent manager however and he has been brilliant for Leeds so far. The difference this time round is that we have a good board and BM has support. Lets just hope that the Football League don’t mess things up by delaying the necessary formalities in time for the January window!!

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  2. White Falcon

    I do agree that Simon Grayson deserves such high recognition. However surely it is a bit harsh to say that McD must get them promoted this season to match Graysons achievement? Grayson inherited a superb squad in a low league, compare that to the deadwood Warnock left behind in a higher league and anything above 6th this season would be very impressive in my eyes.

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    • It was really just a convenient headline. I do actually agree with you, and I’ve said in the piece that whenever Brian takes us up – and I’m sure he will – he’ll be in the Hall of Fame, right up there with the greats.

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  3. Mark carter

    Are u deluded.?

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  4. Mark carter

    ex west ham fan are you rob?

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  5. I sincerely hope not! Sorry but grayson was absolute gutless tosh, even I could have got that team out of league one and his tenure after that was nothing but embarassing. He simply hasn’t got the ability to manage above league one hence his sackings from huddersnothing and subsequently PNE and he would be probably be best suited to punditry that is if he has the guts to say what he thinks for once.

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    • It’s news to me that he’s been sacked by PNE. Actually, it’s not news – it’s bollocks, like the rest of the opinion to which you have a perfect right.

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      • Nice reply – made me chuckle.

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      • Mark carter

        Answer the question rob?

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      • Which question? The stupid “are you deluded” or the crass and very stupid West Ham one? Please be specific – and make it good, because you’ve made no sense so far and you’re rapidly running out of lives as a contributor to this thread or even this blog.

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      • LOL I think he is insinuating you’re Hammersfan, Rob !!!

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      • I thought that, too!! But then I thought – naaah, who could be such a clueless dink? You may actually be right though. Ever wonder how some people manage to even operate a computer when they’re capable only of such hedgehog-brained thinking??

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  6. Russell Corbyn

    Yes. Arise Sir Grayson. EVERY Leeds fan saluted you and the team after the edge-of-your-seat finish with Bristol. Thank you Sir Grayson. Thank you.
    Nice for it to be recognised Rob. 🙂

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  7. john palmer

    gr ayson sacked was the biggest mistake ,lots of his team playing top level since the best style of play for years

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  8. I would say that Grayson and Mcdermott are proof that good guys can succeed. What a relief to have a thinker instead of a gobshite in charge though. I felt gutted for Simon the day we went up due to the dickheads who invaded the pitch and robbed him and the lads of a lap of honour. We saw more proof (if it were needed) yesterday of how much colin knows about football, when that free kick flew in to give Everton the win. The one grain of comfort with the loss of power in Cornwall is that warnock lives there.

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  9. McD will get us there, but in time. I think he knows that better than anyone and he’s in it for the long haul. He loves the club and more so the fans. I have a great story to tell about McD. He lives locally & spends some of his Sundays in pubs around the town watching games on Sky & does receive a lot of attention from Leeds fans, which doesn’t phase him at all. A few weeks ago 2 lads were in the pub and one of them a Leeds fan from Devon was gob-smacked to see Brian sat there, so gob-smacked he didn’t know what to say to him. He went off for a piss so his mate went over to McD & told him the lads name and the fact that he was up from Devon for the Boro game the previous day. So this lad comes back from the bog and 5 minutes later Brian walked over and says to him ‘Now then mate are you John from Devon’, he replied ‘Yes’. So Brian says ‘Great, can I have my picture taken with YOU!!’ Lad totally gobsmacked!!

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  10. Grayson took ‘his’ dream managment job at Leeds and was let down by papa smurf , in my opinion what he started at blackpool must have been hard to walk away from but he did because he badly wanted to manage Leeds , the team and structure he put in place eventually led them to the premiership , it must have been difficult to watch that sat in spider bates

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  11. Whiterhino

    Without doubt got sacked too early – by the the very man that undermined and hamstrung his efforts!
    The main achievement above all by the new mob is the sacking of Bates himself. I even occasionally felt sorry for Mr Warnock – having to work under the same shortsighted, foolish and clumsy regime as the much underrated Mr Grayson.

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  12. john palmer

    don’t feel sorry for Warnock, barkleys not the wide player I want. McCormack never worked so hard (no goals )signed about 11 of his type of shit,sold clayton 10 times better than Austin.,sold becchio for pub player Morrison.took the club back 5 yrs.bmcd has done well to bring us back5yrs

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  13. Grayson not getting sacked + investment/not selling all the star players = Premier League football already.

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    • I can’t help but feel this is true. We’ve passed up tens of millions for want of a few hundred thousands of investment. But maybe things are about to improve…?

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  14. Hey Rob, Grayson entered legendary status when against all odds he took a third division Leeds United to Old Trafford and outplayed them, knocking them out of the cup. This remains a classic Leeds United moment during a period when there were few and far between.

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  15. Yeah Rob – do a blog on 3rd January – I’ll look forward to it mate.

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  16. Are you Simon Graysons agent ? After the Andy O Brian affair Bates had no choice but to sack him.

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