As Manchester United drew 3-3 with FC Basle in Tuesday night’s Champions League clash it was hard to miss the similarities with Leeds United’s 3-3 draw away to Brighton & Hove Albion the previous Friday.

Not only were the freakishly high scorelines the same, but both Leeds and Manchester United raced into two goal leads before capitulating completely and finding themselves 3-2 down, only to be spared total humiliation by injury time equalisers. Even the timing of the goals was pretty similar.

But there were a couple of differences. Aside from the quality of players on display and the level at which the games were contested the biggest difference was that Manchester United were at home to inferior opposition. Leeds meanwhile were away, playing a side who had it not been for Ross McCormack’s injury time equaliser, would now be level on points with the Championship leaders.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say the fans of Manchester United have a greater right to complain than the fans of Leeds United do. Drawing away from home to opposition who, at this moment in time, are technically better than us is a strange thing to be moaning about really, isn’t it?

But the Leeds United faithful didn’t just moan, they went much further than that. In standard Leeds United knee-jerk fashion – as covered brilliantly here by Gary – Whites fans demanded Simon Grayson be sacked for the mistakes made by our defence.

A cursory glance through the Manchester United blogs out there will reveal similar complaints to ours. Namely, that the defence is shuffled around too much and given no time to settle, that injuries have been a running theme which hasn’t helped matters, that lapses in concentration cost us dearly and that certain individuals look somewhat lethargic.

But you’ll be hard-pressed to find any Manchester United fan, anywhere in the world that’s appealing for Alex Ferguson to be shown the door. You can knock the fans of our bitter rivals for many things, but a lack of faith is not one of them – particularly when it comes to Alex Ferguson.

I know comparing Simon Grayson with arguably the most successful manager of all time is laughable, but both these men have records of success. In his two and a half seasons with the club, Grayson has stopped the rot at Elland Road, brought us the promotion we were all so desperate for and improved our overall position year-on-year.

Like Alex Ferguson, the journey has been a bumpy one with plenty of twists, turns and set-backs along the way. How many times has the press claimed Manchester United’s reign of dominance was coming to an end, only for Alex Ferguson to annoy us all again by securing another title? How many dodgy defences, rubbish goalkeepers, overrated midfielders and injury-plagued strikers has he gone through along the way?

But through all those bad patches and dodgy signings, Manchester United fans have not once called for the head of their manager. In fact, if anything, they’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to defend him when the rest of the world has decided he’s lost his touch.

No football team gets an easy ride in any league, every team has bumpy patches, dodgy signings and moments of total humiliation, but the best teams are built upon stability – most importantly, a stable manager who has to be the one constant. He has to be bulletproof if you expect success, he has to be bigger than the overpaid players who can lose faith just as quickly as the supporters if they sense weakness, and he needs the unreserved backing of the fans.

At this moment in time, our defence might be a little suspect. But let’s not forget that Simon Grayson got us promoted with the best defensive record in the league. Since then he’s had constant injury problems, very little success/support in the transfer market and had to rely on a constantly changing back-line propped up by loanees to try and secure points each week – which he’s still somehow managed to do (7 out of the last 9!)

And whilst he may not have been able to plug the holes with the frees and loanees he’s having to make do with (for whatever reason) he has managed to find a workaround to the problem –  goals, and plenty of them. 3-3’s and 3-2’s might be an easier viewing experience for the neutral, but we’re still racking up the points. At the end of the season, that’s all that really matters.

Dealing with a shortage of funds, or an abundance of out-of-form/confidence-lacking players is not dissimilar to overcoming an injury crisis. When you can’t fix a weakness in one position, a good manager will make up for it in another. And that’s exactly what Leeds’ defence-defying formation and tactics have provided us with – a solution that still brings us points. It might not be pretty, but the best managers find ways to accumulate points despite obvious weaknesses. Alex Ferguson has done it for years, and Simon Grayson is doing exactly the same thing.

So let’s accept we have our flaws like every other team, concentrate on the positives for once rather than constantly highlighting obvious negatives and stop trying to undermine a manager who has only taken Leeds United forward since arriving in 2008.

On and on…

  • Threadoflength

    Here here, besides it could be a lot worse.. we could have Forest’s defense for example..

  • Kt

    good grief, a positive aqrticle from TSS!

    • TSS

      We’ve never called for the head of Simon Grayson. Always supported him and the players. Think you’re imagining this negativity – or focusing solely on our (completely justified) hatred of the chairman 

      • Gryff

        … except Lucci Becchio & Bradley Johnson… and Kilkenny… ? :D

        • TSS

          Never blasted Becchio or Johnson. I pointed out that Becchio has missed more six yarders than any striker I’ve ever seen, and that Johnson was wasteful when firing balls into the roof of the stands 10 times a game, but we always pointed out the positives too. Becchio workhouse style has always been acknowledged and Johnson was a quality player who made poor decisions. That’s constructive criticism, not a knee-jerk reaction (it’s why losing match reports are usually delayed – I wait until I’ve calmed down!) 

          As for Kilkenny, I’ll hold my hands up – I constantly criticised him. But a midfielder whose only quality is the ability to pass is pretty pointless, don’t you agree? I always try to look for positives, but with him, there were none. He didn’t suit our style of play I guess. 

  • Great post! and well said! 

  • gardsmeister

    grayson shouldn’t be bullet proof, but he’s unquestionably still very much the man for the job. if he ever does manages to solve, what’s been an almost constant problem for the past 20 months, we will absolutely piss this league. perhaps he should have a beer with the legend that is tony mowbray, ignore anything he’s got to say about going forward, but there’s no denying that defensively, boro have been superb this season so far

  • ashwath

    speaking anything bad abt SAF is lyk spitting in one own face…..the man has more laurels than any1….u dont judge by 1 match….in that way, messi got red card in 15 sec debut…

  • Anonymous

    laughable aint the word ..
    but we know what you mean !!
    seems old Kenneth is getting in 1st with his defence in stating what we all know that “grayson signed em all barrin snodders and howson” ,and “he picks em”” ,the team that is and HE needs to sort it as thats what he gets paid for” ..
    Then yesterday it was Harvey stating about the missed opportunities in an “UGLY” transfer window and it had nothing to do with money etc etc .

    All we need now is the dreaded VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

    GRAYSON  needs to be careful Steve mclaren will soon be out of work  !!!!!!!!!!!!!  lol LOL lol LOL lol LOL ……. ex England manager any takers…………………….come on Stevy boy,are we sure ,England there has to be 1 OK then i’ll try later

  • bremnersbarmyarmy

    The scums defence cant be compared to our kamikaze bunch of clowns and sadly you cant compare fergie with Grayson. Ferguson has proved himself year in year out. Grayson has proved incapable of sorting out our defence. Thanks for promotion which our defence after kisnorbos injury tried to throw away, but after 2 and half years the defensive schoolboy errors continue. I fear Grayson has taken us as far as he is able and we will not go up all the while we conceed as many goals as we do despite scoring many. Just as keegans toon didnt! Grayson rightly is on borrowed time!

  • Anonymous

    I’d be interested to know how many Leeds fans still want Grayson out six days after the 3-3 draw with Brighton. Not many I guess. Knee-jerk reactions are invariably followed by calm and composure: hence MOT. 

  • nostradamus

    what a laugh

  • Matt

    Not long ago you were writing about a newfound apathy ;)

    • TSS

      Think the knee-jerk reactions were partly to blame. Getting increasingly more difficult to listen to supporters blast everyone from Howson to White, Lees to McCormack only for them to be the greatest thing ever a few weeks later (and then back round again). 

      But that apathy – which at the time I said was probably a temporary, yet comforting state – did not mean I didn’t support Grayson and the lads. It meant I was sick of the same crap from Bates over and over again, where supporters kick off and demand answers, only to decide everything is OK again a week later. I was sick of the “we’re going to win the league/we’re going down” reactions following every win, loss and draw. Sick of the “Tom Lees is the new Danny Mills/Tom Lees isn’t a certain back” reactions – there’s just no patience whatsoever with our fans. It had reached a stage where it was difficult to enjoy football because I was getting so wound up with these reactions – apathy was all that kept me from a nervous breakdown or mass killing spree I think. 

  • Northern Octopus

    If the fans back the manager, he will get much more respect from players. that means that players will want to play well for him and not want to upset him. If they do upset him, the players will lose the backing of the fans (Jermaine Beckford) and effectively puts them on a hiding to nothing. Granted, a manager has to earn fans respect in the first place, much like Ferguson but i think with a winning percentage somewhere around the 65% mark Grayson has done that!
    So,  if you want to take some power away from players demanding ridiculous contracts then uniting behind the manager is surely the first port of call. It stengthens the club as a whole and keeps the pressure on the ‘chairman’ to back the manager with funds (not that we expect that) because if he doesn’t…its not the manager the fans will turn on… its the Bearded one!

    on and on

  • Tim Campbell

    If ferguson was sacked who would pull Santa’s sleigh? Jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way…..haha!!

  • normangunston

    I enjoy your site but you’re banging the “knee jerk” drum quite hard lately… isn’t the point of the internet and forums like this that fans (a minority of fans) have a place to voice their opinions and blow off steam? It’s unfortunate that disappointment and anger are stronger prompts than a general contentment with how things going but… that’s human nature isn’t it?

    • TSS

      Indeed. And I considered that before writing, but I think Leeds fans take it too far when they’re calling for head of Simon Grayson after two wins and a draw. There’s no balance lately, very few people are highlighting any positives and instead concentrating solely on the negatives – which are being blown out of proportion wildly. I think breaking point for me is sarcastic cheers when the defence make a clearance, and constant sighs when an opposition player gets the better of someone. Football would be a bit crap if that never happened. 

      • normangunston

        fair enough, and thanks for the response.

  • Henry V L

    “I know comparing Simon Grayson with arguably the most successful manager of all time is laughable……”
    yes it is!

    I have lived among ManU fans for many years and they have asked for Fergie’s head MANY TIMES!
    If they lose two games the fans say he has lost it!
    He is too old!!
    He must step down!! etc.
    The atmosphere at Man U is only good after they have scored.
    They are spoilt by success.
    We are spoilt by failure!!
    The Chairman is now joining in with the Morons, saying our defence is crap and has been for two years, AND it is THE MANAGERS JOB TO SORT IT OUT!!!
    Man U fans are far more fickle than we are!!
    They DEMAND and EXPECT success!
    We pray for it!!

    • TSS

      Sorry mate, but I know plenty of season ticket holders at Scum and have never heard anything of the sort. The glory hunters who have never stepped foot inside Sold Trafford may well have called for his head, but I’ve never heard a proper fan say that – of which there are some. A blasting Man United rally cry will always go down well though. 

      The problem at Leeds is that it’s not just the keyboard warriors on the t’interweb and ill-informed casuals that are making these knee-jerk reactions and screaming for the head of our manager and a different selection of players every week (who they generally praise the week after) but the regulars and ST holders. 

      Yes, we have a weakness – what team doesn’t? But we also have many strengths and are still racking up points. Change the manager you may will solve the defensive problem, but we’ll also lose out in other departments. The one guarantee is that no other manager will be able to do what Grayson has with Ken Bates in charge, and that’s improve our league position year-on-year. Ultimately, managers can only be judged on results – Grayson is still providing them. Does it really matter if they’re boring 1-0’s or 3-2’s? 

  • Bubionwhite

    As one of those old enough to remember Sir Gobshite’s appointment, I seem to remember several calls from their supporters for him to be sacked in the first couple of years or so of his tenure … along with the media reporting that he only had X number of games to save his job. I also remember that a section of the Leeds faithful demanded the same when Sir Don was appointed … comments like “he doesn’t have any experience” or “are they mad”. How wrong could they all have been? … management stability is the key to long term success.

    You are correct TSS, there is far too much knee-jerking from a section of our support but maybe that’s borne out of frustration … or something in Yorkshire water, or beer.

    SG has had my vote, and continues to have it … if he’s replaced we could have some ego like Steve McLaren, Martin O’Neill or even Gordon Strachan … we could all be good managers with the amounts of money they’ve been given to spend. Keep the faith!

    • TSS

      I often wonder how modern football fans would cope with all those near misses Don Revie’s side had. There’s no way the Leeds fans of today would tolerate that. 

  • Jason Ellenor

    That kind of result happened once to Man UTD but it happens far more often to Leeds UTD……I do not want Larry sacked and I think he should be given time !!!!

  • jonnyglufc

    We dont want his head, just he needs to sure up his defence, and drop some favourites to help the team. Simply add some speed to the centre back position, and play a def midfielder to cover defence, as howson is not a cm, only ant good as a support striker, but we dont play that way now! Bye howson to bench. Even the best teams look vulnerable at the back without protection in cm, look how valuable de jong us to man city, hes been injured n they look vulnerable at the back, we need a player to break the play down!

  • Anonymous

    The two key factors are that Larry has consistently produced results despite the environment he works in, not because of it. Secondly if he left, who the hell would be prepared to work with Bates and a Bates ‘budget’ ? 
    I would also add that amongst the loanees and freebies he manages to conjure up a real proper gem of a footballer – Gradel and now Clayton – you could also add Somma at a push.
    Where he lets himself down, is by not identifying that he needs extra help – principally a proper defence coach.

    MOT 

    • Anonymous

      plenty of managers would come to leeds no doubt

      bates never interviewed when he gave grayson the job he took him cos he lived up north Skipton to be exact

  • Mark

    Its not just laughable, its completely and utterly ridiculous. You are quick to jump on what you see as Leeds supporters “moaning” about Grayson, sorry ed but this piece of toot is the worst article i have ever read on this site. 

    Thought you were better than this type of clap trap.       

    • TSS

      Care to explain why? “Constructive” criticism is preferable to criticism with no actual reasoning or examples. That’s what we try to do here on TSS anyway… 

      • Ron Galea

        9 championship matches without a clean sheet (let’s exclude the cup matches to be kind). Do you actually believe TSS that Grayson did enough in the summer to address our defence? Let alone what we didn’t do last January when we were on the march? This isn’t a witch hunt as we all like Grayson for he is one of us. However, the joke has gone on long enough and something must change. Our attack is thoroughly potent, no question, so  well done SG for that, but defensively he has failed miserably.

        • TSS

          No, of course I don’t – I said that above. My point is, that in the absence of a solid defence, we win games with other strengths.

          If we weren’t picking up points I could understand the constant moaning, but when Leeds fans had us tipped for a bottom half finish last season and we finished 7th, I honestly can’t understand how you can complain? You judge a manager by wins and losses, everything else is trivial because fans will find a reason to moan regardless of how we accrue points.

      • Mark

        I agree constructive criticism is preferable to criticism with no reasoning, unfortunately when you base an article comparing Graysons performance as Leeds manager with Ferguson any salient points you may make thereafter are completely devalued.

        I have always tried to measure my comments, they certainly are not Knee Jerk reactions to a few disappointing results. If Grayson doesnt find a way to reverse Leeds poor defensive record then success will continue to elude us. You can dress this up a million different ways, the bottom line is there is a “problem” in the team whether it be quality of players, tactics, mentality, coaching or a combination thereof. Its down to Grayson to sort this out. Given Leeds defensive frailty has persisted for the past 18 months and improvement appears to be no nearer it is not unreasonable to be concerned or to question and challenge why.

        Grayson picks the players, coaching staff, tactics etc. Its been said so many times, great going forward, awful going backwards. That imbalance needs to be addressed if Leeds are to continue to improve. If it isn’t addressed then over time I believe the team will begin to struggle. You cant keep relying on your forwards to score 2/3 goals per game just to get a point, the pressure and tension that places on the players will continue to build, the danger then being our positive attacking play starts to deteriorate.

        I think that is constructive criticism, like many Leeds supporters I want to see Grayson do something about it. If he cant or doesn’t address the problem this season Leeds United will not achieve their stated objective of automatic promotion or the play offs, it really is as simple as that. 

        • TSS

          “I have always tried to measure my comments, they certainly are not Knee Jerk reactions to a few disappointing results. If Grayson doesnt find a way to reverse Leeds poor defensive record then success will continue to elude us. ”

          But this is the nonsensical part of it all – we’re picking up points regardless. Leeds’ all-out-attack approach has been the answer to our defensive frailties and it’s worked. No two teams win games in the same way, and Leeds’ way is probably the most exciting in the Championship, yet still we whinge for the days of Blackwell and Graham – managers who we ironically whinged about too. You see my point here? 

  • Anonymous

    i do not feel that 2and half years of shite defenders is knee jerk neither is longer than that without spending on players ,,,,,,
    we have a right to expect more than get we are paying top dollar for everything .
    bates is now saying about it, the defence as are others ,its not knee jerk its topical discussion at leeds  and the editorial drives the comments, and the negative discussions get more comments ,the devils in the detail .
    lets have a proper discussion about all the positives ,………………………………….

    • TSS

      How is it two and half years when we left League One with the best defence in the league? You’re just proving my short-termist point I’m afraid. 

      • Anonymous

        but still finished second and only just ..short termist you are having a laugh as i have said before this has gone on since we got relegated from premier league .
        we conceded 81 goals last season thats 2 more than 2 of the teams that got relegated ,
        In league 1 there was 1 or 2 teams round us goals conceded and plenty scored more including Huddersfield and Southampton ..
        season before it was pretty much the same so we are no better than anyone else , alright not worse if we talk about the teams that are genuinely competing against us for promotion etc , but we didn’t leave league 1 head and shoulders above everyone else defensive wise but we did ticket price wise so to say we had the best defence at any time in the last few seasons is not a fair reflection of the stats ..

        i find it hard to believe that when the chairman tells everyone he is building for the long term , everyone has their point to say and slags him off for not spending on the team ..
        my approach isn’t short term its about getting players in now quality ones on long term 3-4 year deals that are quality to take us through this division who do not need replacing when we get there … most teams going up come back down because they were not prepared, knee jerk buying of players when they get to premier league on stupid wages then because they need time to gel etc its too late by Christmas they are relegated ..the players leave because of big wages and admin beckons ..
        how many came on here and said we missed the boat last January by getting no one in ????.
        as a TEAM leeds are OK but breaking it down 
        strikers fantastic 2-3 seasons
        midfield above average 2-3 seasons
        defence SHITE last season and all this so far and had its more than bad days in league 1
        i will amend my statement we have been shite defensively for 1.25 seasons and not much better for the season before

          

  • Anonymous

    I could understand the calls for Grayson’s head if we really were down at the bottom of the Championship (but we aren’t), if squad confidence and unity had gone (by the delight in rescuing a point at Brighton, it hasn’t), or if there was a better man waiting to come in (with Bates at the helm, it is seriously unlikely). 

    There’s that old line about throwing babies out with bath water (never understood where that came from, personally)… I think developing a consistent good football playing culture that is, as Ron Galea says, “thoroughly potent” in attack is a phenomenal achievement. We really shouldn’t be thinking that a new manager will be able to preserve that. I seriously doubt it. 

    You have to say that it is a rare thing these days – Wenger aside, at least for now – that attacking-minding styles of football managers stay at the same club for more than three seasons ~ so I can see why the ‘long patience’ for Grayson is just about wearing thin these days. Depressingly, the Mourinho defensive mentality currently remains supreme – just ask Sean O’Driscoll and the Doncaster fans. Call me an optimist but I reckon having got to the point where we can score three goals per game quite merrily we shouldn’t be so quick to throw that away for a Dean Saundersesque – dare I say, Blackwellesque!? – hoofball style of play that might grab us a few 1-0s victories in a row and push Lonergan up to our leading ‘assist’ merchant. I’d hedge that our exotic attacking players – Nunez, Somma (when fit again) and possibly Howson too – would be less convinced to sign their new contracts under such underwhelmingly dull footballing prospects.

    Wouldn’t it be far better to bring in some new coaching personnel – a defensive coach perhaps ~ and at least see if that c.£40-60,000 per annum expense is the fixit that takes 3-3 draws to regular 3-1 victories, rather than sacking Grayson (at expense), bringing someone new in (probably at compensationary expense and at risk), changing our playing personnel (at cost and risk) and tactics too (at great risk)?

    • Ron Galea

      I would love the defensive coach to be sacked. The fact of the matter is I would love some recognition of our defensive failure, as opposed to continuous moaning (myself included) and empty words. I’m not shy to give Grayson his dues (as you have quoted me) and I know he wants the best for us. I would like to say we are not far away from success, however, I thought that at Christmas last year. We have not fixed a glaring problem and if SG wants to work under Bates and his rules, he has to die by the sword if he can’t rectify it. The truth of the matter is, if most of us consistently did not address a problem in our own working lives, our boss would do something about it. Managing Leeds is a very difficult job, but one that must feel sensational when ER is celebrating a victory. It’s a privilege, but one that comes with enormous responsibility.

      • Anonymous

        I actually agree about the recognition re: the defensive frailties. Last year there was a case that our powderpuff midfield with Kilkenny in it, and to some extent Howson too, failed to bridge the attacking play upfront with defensive duties when we got caught out. This season Clayton especially makes that accusation against the midfield less credible.

        The positives are that Lees and White are coming good, even if they are making errors as they do. Pugh should be a massive help to White on the left and I think Grayson will and should play it safe with Connolly and Snodgrass partnering up well again on the right. That leaves Lees at centreback plus one other (I’d go with O’Dea personally, but others might choose Kisnorbo). That’s a lot of quick learning and responsibility for Lees at the heart of the defense and he’s rightly been rewarded with his new contract for doing so. 

        So what, you might ask? The difference is that this defensive situation when compared with last year is that there is genuine hope that the defense will settle down with time round. Last year we were clutching at straws, and to be honest quite old journeymen straws too – in hoping that the answer would somewhere be found in the old boys of O’Brien, Bromby and even Naylor. We never looked convincing then and clearly we would be wrong to presume the answer is to be found amongst them this season either. Lees, O’Dea, and when fit again, Kisnorbo, plus one ready-to-roll ‘other’ are far more likely to finally gel in the coming months than we ever found last season. Unlike striker partnerships, defensive partnerships are usually crafted over months if not years, so there are grounds for patience as long as the individual performances looking good (how many accolades for White, Lees and occasionally O’Dea in the first ten or so games when we’ve played well?) and we are a million miles away from the nonsense we saw against Barnsley and Preston last season. 

  • Steve Oates

    great article

  • Shane Clapham

    could’nt of said itbetter myself. Well written. But the moaners will still have their whinge.