Don't blame it on the Larry!

Another defeat in what most fans expected to be a tricky first season back in the Championship resulted in yet more pointed fingers. It seems this time, the knives are aiming in Simon Grayson’s direction, which is no surprise really as we’re quickly running out of players. So far this season, the list of villains includes;

Richard Naylor – Too slow, old and clearly out of his depth in the Championship.

Federico Bessone – Brought in to occupy the troublesome left-back position, but as shown no indication that he knows how to tackle.

Neill Collins – Goes from superb to hopeless in 90 minute cycles.

Jonny Howson – Needs to “step up a gear.” Goes missing during the games and often gets caught in possession.

Neil Kilkenny – Too lightweight and disappears when Leeds are on the back foot.

Bradley Johnson – Brings a bit of weight to the midfield (too much some might say) but has an irritating tendency of shooting from 50 yards when he has much better options available. His shots usually end up on the roof of the stadium or being shielded by a supporter in the top of the Kop.

There’s plenty more besides, but we’d be here all day. The only players that seem immune from criticism are Robert Snodgrass and Davide Somma, who can do no wrong in the eyes of the Leeds United fans.

When every player on the pitch fails to perform like we saw last night, there’s only one man left to blame – Simon Grayson. It’s not the first time he’s been blamed for our poor performances either, and it’s understandable that he should be. After all, he’s the one that picks the team and sets the tactics!

Criticising the manager for the wrong approach is one thing, but the knee-jerk reaction of calling for his head every time we lose is beyond the extreme. For the first time in years we have a stable manager that understands the concerns of the fans and is willing to accept responsibility when things go wrong. Furthermore, he’s performing exactly as we demanded he did! At the start of the season, Leeds United fans agreed that a mid-table finish was a realistic aim and correct me if I’m wrong, but 10th in the table is pretty much bang on the money?

Quite why anyone would chose to be manager of a football team is beyond me, because you really can do nothing right. A mid-table finish usually involves plenty of defeats along the way and any fan that is unable to accept that there are teams better than us in this division needs to wake-up and realise it’s not 2001 any more.

What we saw last night was the best team we’ve played this season teach us a lesson in football and they thoroughly deserved the three points. They’ve been in this division longer than we have, they have a strong team that was masked behind a 22nd place start to the season and the new manager has finally got them playing to their capabilities. We probably did underestimate them, but anyone who had seen them play prior to last night would have done the same.

So yes, we were thoroughly outplayed last night. Yes, Simon Grayson is partly responsible for that performance and yes, we do need to learn from our mistakes. What we don’t need is a mob of Leeds United fans undermining the credibility of our manager and calling for his head.

This, after all, is the same manager that masterminded a memorable win over Scum at Old Trafford. This is the manager that stopped the rot and finally dragged us out of League One. This manager has provided us with many more memorable moments besides, and he’s done all of this on a shoestring budget whilst the competition continue to snap up the players we need. More recently, this manager has guided us to a respectable 10th place start, despite the absence of several key players!

He will inevitably get it wrong from time to time and this season will be a difficult one of mixed emotions, but we have to stick with him and allow him to continue the steady progress he’s made in charge of Leeds United FC. So by all means blame it on the Howson, blame it on the Naylor, blame it on the Grayson and blame it on the boogie if you feel inclined to do so, but let’s at least try and keep things in perspective whilst we do so!

81 Responses

  1. Clarkeonenil

    Sometimes you can overthink the problem, this is one case in point, Grayson’s problem is simple, once his teams cross into the top half of the Championship he is in “nose-bleed” territory. Or put another way, out of his depth. He may, although I don’t think he will, find new heights by learning from the last 4 weeks and maybe stretch his potential to top 8 in this division but alas given what we all want at some point in the 3 years he is contracted for is promotion and staying in the PL that won’t be good enough.

    Without contradicting myself my site has always said no point in getting on Grayson’s case because Bates is incapable of providing us with a manager who can take us up under his ownership/chairmanship but it is also clear (and was during the promotion season) that once Bates is out of the way Grayson will fall on his own limitations (of which their are many).

    • TSS


      Hi MG,

      Kind of agree and disagree in equal measures. I think what we have in Simon Grayson is a young manager that can only learn from experience and much like the players, will grow with every game. He got it disastrously wrong last night, but I can’t picture any scenario where we would have taken points from that game – Leicester were by far the better team. Maybe we can get Rooney in January?

  2. Stephen Clark

    Couldnt agree more. Despite the defeat we fell just one place and are 3 point of a play off place. The manner of the defeat is desperately disappointing and the midfield display baffling following on frm Saturday, but the only thing consistent in this league is its inconsistency.

    Let’s not forget Leiceste have a new manager to impress, and despite peoples feelings on Sven, his arrival was bound to lift Leicester. They were superb on the night and thankfully didn’t have a striker to inflict any real pain on us.

    Despite them playing us of the pitch, it was two howlers that saw us lose the game. We dug in and despite the howls of derision, by actually knocking the ball across the back drew the sting from Leicester. Had the defenders had anything creative in front of them, I’m sure we would have done better, but they had no options but to lump it forward. The only criticism you can throw at Larry is that he did not see the need to improve the midfield in the Summer. His flair players, Watt, Snoddgrass, Gradel and Somma all had an off night.

  3. Paul C

    Never ceases to amaze me what Leeds fans expect from a ‘sows ear’.

    This is predominantly a League 1 squad and is obviously a little out of its depth. I will be over the moon if Grayson manages to keep us in the Division this season .

  4. steve underwood

    Great article but for me grayson has to take a lot of the blame he picks the team,tells them wat he wants them to do,after every defeat he come out with same excuse the players are not doing wat he wants them to do,now for me this looks like he is loosing the dressing room,he continues to pick his fav players howson johnson nayler etc,howson gets picked when he clearly cant run.tackle,pass,shoot,dont get me started on johnson.I would like to see bruce and faye in the team has holding players then have snoddy sam and somma in front of them with becchio as lone striker in defence connelly bromby collins and parker now he is fit with kasper in goal for me that looks solid with good options going forwerd

    • TSS


      The problem with Faye, is that he can’t play two games in three days as witnessed last night. Alex Bruce hasn’t performed as well as expected and was probably the worst player on the pitch when Preston put six by us and Naylor overall has been the better player.

      As for Jonny Howson, the lad seems to have become the easy target despite doing little wrong. Yes, he makes mistakes, but every player on the pitch has been guilty of that. The suggestion that he can’t tackle, pass or shoot is far-fetched to say the least. When partnered with Killa, he’s the only player in midfield that adds anything defensively. I’d also hazard a guess that he’s amongst the top few players in terms of assists both this season and last, because he tries to create something whilst Killa is happy to take the easy and often ineffective option. Inevitably, Jonny’s attempted passes will often go astray, but the ones that do get through often make the difference and I think that’s what SG see’s that some fans clearly don’t.

  5. superhoops

    Can’t understand the reactions of the fans calling for Grayson’s head. We’re mid table for Christ’s sake. What were people expecting?

    Yes, we have got a lot of weak players, but do you really think Grayson doesn’t know this? COURSE HE DOES! HE IS A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL MANAGER.

    He has taken this team, on LEague 1 wages, to the Championship top half. The home form will come, and Xmas will no doubt see us add a defender or two.

    For fucks sake, just get behind the team. All last season we were saying “It’ll be tough next year”. It’s not going to be easy, survival will be a result, and Grayson is the man ffor the job 100%.

  6. Roger the Dodger

    Im afraid the old its a league 1 squad doesnt wash. The summer and the tranfer window before should of seen leeds BUYING for the future and this league. Thats what he told us he’d done.

    This is graysons squad and on last nights performance theres something drastically wrong if they cant even compete with a leicester city side which was in the bottom 3 till last night.

    So Im afraid questions need to be asked regarding graysons transfer policy. according to him and bates they are looking at promotion im just hoping we stay up.

    • TSS

      @Roger the Dodger

      As I said above, the 22nd position was deceiving. Leicester only just missed out on promotion last season!

      If anyone needs questioning, it’s Bates and the lack of funds provided. You can’t build a squad capable of the play-off’s with buttons.

      Out of curiosity, where do you think Leeds should be finishing this season?

      • shez

        TSS hit the nail on the head with this comment…”It’s Bates and the lack of funds provided. You can’t build a squad capable of the play-off’s with buttons.”

        Also we missed out on a lot of major targets as mentioned by superhoops:
        – Gary Hooper
        – Billy Sharp
        – Nick Montgomery
        – John Eustace
        – Daryl Russel
        – Jay Simpson

        Larry is a good manager, but needs to up his game, as do his troops. FOr met he main weakness is the midfield which all too often fails to protect the defence, exposing out lack of pace at the back.

        I’m sure that come January we’ll get a couple of signings in in defence and midfield, or even before with loans.

        Keep the faith with Larry, he deserves that.

        On On On

    • superhoops

      - Gary Hooper
      – Billy Sharp
      – Nick Montgomery
      – John Eustace
      – Daryl Russel
      – Jay Simpson

      Grayson tried to bring all of them in, and all of them rejected us on the grounds that the wages were too low, and they’re only some of the ones that we know about.


        I don’t recall any of the above setting the world aloght so far!!!

  7. Andrew Claridge

    I agree with the majority of your comments but its not loosing, its the way we loose that’s the problem.

    Simon was aware last season Leeds were weak in midfield but has done little to rectify the situation. Sven had done his home work on Leeds last night and exposed our weakness and Leicester just cut straight through our midfield area leaving the Leeds back 4 exposed.

    My concerns are all with the midfield area, as described above, Simon does not seen to able to select a solid midfield section. Until this area is improved upon we will be found wanting.

  8. Paul Cranswick

    There does not seem to be a long term plan at Leeds at the moment. Long gone are the 10 year plans a la Wilko. Where is the youth development? Coming up to two years in the job and not a single youth product has debuted under SG in any form of senior football – even last years Mickey Mouse Paint Trophy. We need to do something different to the rest by going back to basics and making sure our academy delivers for us again. Sorry to say but any fool can see that Connolly, Bruce, Collins, Naylor, Bessone and McCormack are not premiership quality. He needs to be buying with that division in mind as we shouldnt be settling for less. Schmeichel and Faye are the only players brought in how would grace that division. Sam, Clayton and Nunez remain to be seen but the rest are journeymen. Get in quality over quantity and get the youngsters moving. He has let players of potential such as Webb and Hotchkiss flounder – Hatfield is falling by the wayside, White is underutilised and Martin, Elliott, Lees and Darville vanquished on loans when they should be encouraged to aim for a place in our first team squad. Running out of patience as it is no good being up for it and taking out the Blades and Boro and then pissing it away against Leicester and Preston who we should have swept aside. Gus Poyet is starting to look tempting.

    • Dje

      @Paul Cranswick

      Utterly agree, mate.

      Regarding Poyet – who is looking to be in top form again with Brighton (as he was with us before leaving for Tottenham) – I seriously doubt that Bates would consider him though. There was an interview with Bates in the Times or the Guardian about a month or so ago, and it was clear that he feels totally betrayed from when Poyet left Leeds for Tottenham.

      So as Grumpy Old Man says, it seems unlikely that we’ll get the right kind of manager whilst Bates is still at the helm. And God unwilling, that aint happening soon.

  9. trueyorxman

    Graysons’ problem is he keeps saying his players need to learn from their mistakes, but is HE? Is doesn’t look like it…I’m not saying he should be sacked, but HE needs to learn quickly if he’s the man to take us into next season which is the one we are all looking at surely

  10. steve underwood

    i will say this lets pack midfield stop teams playing through us if we dont stop the rot now other teams will be watching us being cut wide open.Lets make us difficult to beat if that means lots of nill draws and 1 nill wins like the sheff utd game then so be it.We must stay in this division if we continue playing open football i fear we will go down

  11. Dirty Leeds Blog

    We have too many individuals who are not good enough to compete at this level. Larry changed the system last night, to counteract an excellent Leicester team but he could have changed the system another dozen times, the only way we’d have got anything out of the game would have been to play all the substitutes as well.

    We literally had no answers to their individual quality.

  12. Zidhenry8

    Well said TSS. Most of the fans seem to be living in dreamworld and think that we will get promoted straightaway. It took us 3yrs to get out of league one. Rome wasnt built in a day. Give the players and manager a chance. Mid table would be an awesome result. Anything more a welcomed bonus. MOT

  13. Joey

    the team was shite last nite, every single one of them… U can’t start playing in the 82nd minute and get something from the game, i cant believe any one can slag larry off, he’s the best young up and coming manager its not his fault Leeds are skint and cant really build on the league one team.

  14. Paul South Wales

    The frightening thing is we’ll meet a hell of a lot of teams like Leicester in this league, and if we don’t adapt quickly we’re going to be on the end of some serious hidings! It’s a big step up from league one and it’s starting to show. His options are limited and I would be getting concerned if I was him…where do we go from here? Calling for his head is a bit premature, but a few more of these results (and i think it’s inevitable) and the mood will change. It’s good we’ve got a big test next game, hopefully we’ll see a “reaction” as Larry says. MOT

  15. henry vincent lewis

    Our feeling before the season began was that our squad of freebies were not good enough.
    We knew our defense was fragile and our midfield weak.
    Our defense is under too much pressure as our midfield evaporates in many games.
    We started pretty well as promoted teams (unknown quantities) seem to do.
    The reasonable start lulled us into thinking that the team was better than we thought.
    How could it be?
    The other teams have sussed us now, and know that if they attack us we will collapse!
    If I hear “We have to make Elland Road a Fortress” once more I will smile!!
    We have to revert to One up front and bring in an extra midfield player.
    I cannot see old Greybeard spending in January.
    Just more freebies.
    No more strikers please, Simon.
    A top 10 finish will do me nicely.
    Faye will not be match fit for 6 weeks.
    Simon was mystified why we could not reproduced our form against Boro.
    If Leicester had been as crap as Boro we would have done!!
    We must stick by Simon as he deserves our support.
    He must tackle uncle Ken for funds as we need quality
    players in key areas.
    I know it won’t happen but I can dream.

    Come on the boys!!!

  16. steve underwood

    Grayson is to blame for the inbalance in the squad,at one point he seemed to be buying every striker going but neglected the midfield and defence that is bad management.I cant see us spending any money in january,with the squad we have now i think we are going to struggle. this season mirrors both seasons we went down lots of big defeats and no fight.From now on its no use saying wat we should have done,we have to pull together get behind all the players including nayler if he plays,booing players getting on there backs in games WILL GET US RELEGATED

  17. Matt BB

    Grayson is by a country mile the best manager we have had since O’Leary, before he went bonkers.

    We are in a huge learning curve, and he has to make do with the hand hes been dealt, eriksson, Jones, Colin W*nker, all have huge financial backing, we dont. We could send Naylor, Bessone, Collins out on loan and replace them with other loanees or spend more money, and to be honest I wouldnt be upset if we did, butcalls for graysons sacking are ludicrous. Is Ian Holloway on the verge of being sacked at Blackpool, his side have had some right old thrashings. But Blackpool like us are a newly promoted side – some good performances so far, and some bad ones too, but shouldnt we expect that?

    Grayson has been realistic enough to say he expected more but has kept a level head, you cant expect top 6 from this side, it would be nice, but it would only serve to demotivate the players.

    Some are coming up short and it may be time for them to move on.. but players like Howson, Kilkenny, Somma, Snodgrass all have many years of development ahead of them, not to mention in our defence, Schmeicel, Lees, Parker, Darville.

  18. shez

    TSS hit the nail on the head with this comment…”It’s Bates and the lack of funds provided. You can’t build a squad capable of the play-off’s with buttons.”

    Also we missed out on a lot of major targets as mentioned by superhoops:
    – Gary Hooper
    – Billy Sharp
    – Nick Montgomery
    – John Eustace
    – Daryl Russel
    – Jay Simpson

    Larry is a good manager, but needs to up his game, as do his troops. FOr met he main weakness is the midfield which all too often fails to protect the defence, exposing out lack of pace at the back.

    I’m sure that come January we’ll get a couple of signings in in defence and midfield, or even before with loans.

    Keep the faith with Larry, he deserves that.

    On On On

  19. les irwin

    myself and others said before season started we added players but no quality not any asside from schmeicel .is sam injured??? LOOK lets be right and before i get the “we cant compare blackpool to leeds” spiel,he didnt set the world alight with them in sure grayson had a list,, if the players we bought were on the list then its his fault to be fair on besssone ,he was in champs team of season last year if he got frees cos we had no money then its bates fault .a lt of our players have been found wanting ,higgs ,bessone ,connely .hughes.howson ,kilkenny ,faye,johnson, becchio ? at times.naylor,white and snodgrass at times
    bruce aint the first player to get sent off paying against his old team .asside from kasper we have absolutely no quality not any we need to ask why that is maybe next season we will attract some .noticeably our attendances haven,t risen either 21 odd thou not that good really

  20. les irwin

    just like to mention that reading bates’s programme notes about players he basically said without saying it ‘if the fans want players they will have to pay more .well i think we do and last season we had a cup run and some fantastic crowds at E R we got no money in real terms spent on players who is he trying to kid
    all frees no quality most of the players we got, connelly for instance derby fans were extatic to get rid of him same with coolins at preston

  21. Big T

    After Leeds beat Man Utd in January their form took a real nose dive. They should have won League One easily but in the end just about scraped into the championship. They are just continuing where they left off and that will only allow them mid table at best.
    Leeds is a much bigger club than this and their fans deserve better…As usual it comes down to money and Bates doesn’t spend it so I suppose we’ll have to make do with second raters.

  22. Bill Fox

    Truth is this league is very hard to call. Last night bottom sides beat top sides everywhere. We are therefore finding our feet on unstable ground with a young but highly promising manager. I stand fully behind him as the vast majority here do I feel.

    We will ride this roller coaster until May and I predict we will climb off for 3 months rest having finished 12th/13th and feeling dizzy but pretty pleased with ourselves.

    As for Howson, to me he is one of our better players but again he’s not the finished article yet. Let’s not kill the fella with pressure, he remains part of our future surely.

    The biggest let downs for me last night as it goes were Faye who was so good at Boro and Snoody who for me just wasn’t at the races all night.

  23. Chicago White

    Yes we have a large squad but very little quality and we knew that before, during and after the transfer window close. As stated by others we know we lost targets because we couldn’t/wouldn’t pay transfer fee’s and the going rates for wages, when you pay peanuts you get monkeys IMO. Also remember and this has been stated and reiterated the manager does not negotiate the transfer fees or the wages, our manager provides Bates/Harvey/Williams with positions and they bring in candidates, Grayson may have final say as to wether he wants a player or not but he is choosing from a Prix Fete not an Ala Carte menu. Having said that Grayson shouldn’t get off scot free, he’s had the opportunity to demand more control, also I expected him to sort out our tactics better at 1/2 time last night which he didn’t. I know its easy to berate the defense and I also think our defense is significantly lacking in many areas but last night based on the commentary it wasn’t clear that we had a MF playing, our MF was AWOL to a man last night and as such its tough to pick on the defense when it seemed to be 5 against the marauding hoards! Also lets not forget that Sven is one of the best managers and tacticians in the world (whatever you think of him).

  24. paulg

    Some pretty typical Leeds fan expectations on this thread …. impatient, and unrealistic.

    Let’s look at the league we’ve just escaped from, and look at who the two biggest spenders are. Southampton …. wealthy owners, spent a shed load of money – lost 5 out of 12, and currently lying 15th. And our good friends from the McAlpine …. stable ownership, a manager who must have brought in even more players than Larry – although at considerably higher cost – and a bunch of fans who thought they’d walk L1 this year ….. lost 4 out of 12, and currently 5th. (And I’d be prepared to bet good money that they blow it this season again, as they did last …..)

    Kind of puts Larry’s performance into perspective. He got us out of that league, and we finished second only to newly-relegated Norwich, who spent big in the Summer of 2009 ……

    Fast forward to this year. Has he bought the players we would have liked? No. Has he bought the players HE would have liked? Again, I’d say no. Someone said that Grayson has come out and said he’s happy with his squad ….. well, what else do you expect?

    There are 12 games gone. We’ve had some decent performances, we’ve had some poor ones. But we’re a relatively poor club, trying to compete with clubs with money (QPR, Boro), clubs living on other people’s money (Cardiff) and god knows how many clubs who are still getting Premiership parachute payments. I’ll settle for mid-table mediocrity this year …. and anyone who expects more is, as I said, impatient and unrealistic …..

  25. Mark R

    SG is a decent manager and he’ll become a better one only if he can learn the lessons from his mistakes and move forwards. I am certainly not calling for his head, 3pts off 6th after only 11 matches of the season.

    Some players have been found wanting this season. But SG did assemble the squad pre season.

    Let’s not forget it’s a team game – how a team is set up and the tactics employed are critical. A collection of highly paid individually gifted players without a plan achieve very little – witness England in this year’s World Cup.

    Matches are won by organised, and motivated TEAMS, who have a tactical plan to impose their game on the opposition. SG has achieved exactly this on more occassions than not, most noteabley vs. Manu in the Cup.

    The squad SG assembled is not going to change in the immediate future.He has 22+ players to choose a team from. Organise & motivate, plan effective tactics to at least get a draw, or better still win a match.

    Barnsley, Preston & Leics > 3 matches, a similar pattern of performance resulting in defeat.

    SG needs to start adapting and learning. Something has to change in how the Management & Staff are preparing for matches.

    Let’s hope he can figure things out to perform to a consistant and acceptable level.


  26. Max.

    Well, firstly the problem is Bates, not Grayson. He is not contributing (in fact has never contributed) money to the club, revenues (largely gouged from fans, with the occasional asset stripping of the youth sides) are being diverted to construction projects to develop the value of his Leeds United assets, and to the occasional idiotic court case. We also have dead weights like Gwyn Williams, brought by Bates from Chelsea, in charge of what should be one of the better scouting networks (given the relative size and lack of competition for the youth catchment area).

    Grayson is indeed making the occasional tactical error, the squad is underpowered in some key departments, and he’s running a rotation system when he should probably be trying to stabilise a first team.

    Higgs, Johnson and Collins seem to be playing at least one level above where they should be; Faye seems both unfit and too easily tackled to be the holding midfield player. Gradel is massively inconsistent. It’s hard to judge some of the other players (Bessone was in the Championship team of the season last year; Howson and Kilkenny are both out of form but basically play the same game and either one of them needs a strong holding midfield player alongside; Sam, McCormack and Bruce haven’t been played often enough to make a judgement, and Paynter hasn’t been played at all). I was interested on Saturday to see Connolly, whom I hadn’t previously rated, instantly improve with Snodgrass sitting in front of him. I still think fixing some key positions will fix some of the other underperforming players.

    As for Leicester, the squad they had in L1 ran away with the division, to the extent that both Kisnorbo and Gradel were surplus to requirements, they were 5th in the Championship last season, they’ve had a further year to redevelop the squad, they had two premiership loan players in their back 4 last night, they now have a noted international manager, and they don’t have Ken Bates.

  27. Mike

    No matter how thin you slice it Larry is a crap manager.
    An example of good management was provided by Sven (who incidentally I cant stand) last night, he got them fired up had a plan of action and saw that they stuck to it, he made Larry look like a halfwit.
    In a desperate situation why does Larry not take a gamble and sling in Nunez?
    Ken will not be impressed no matter what he says, we cant blame lack of cash, He is letting Larry waste untold thousands a week on players Larry wont play.

    The case that some are putting forward that we are expecting too much is crap, Fans will happily settle for watching good football and going home happy that our team gave a good account of themselves win or lose.
    No one seriously expected us to go up this year but we had good reason to believe we could hold our heads up after every game.
    When an entire team goes bad there can be only one direction to point the finger, and with Larry this happens all too often.
    Time to get rid before we slide too far.

    • TSS

      @mikelufc I do like the idea that Grayson is “gutless” because he chooses to play experienced players that know how the team plays, as opposed to inexperienced ones that the fans rate because they’ve seen a couple of YouTube clips – seriously, I could make Bradley Johnson look like a superstar by editing a few of his goals together!

      Grayson sees Nunez in training every week, and since he hasn’t played him yet we can conclude that he’s either;

      A) Not ready to play English football yet (hence his reserve appearances)
      B) Only here to make the numbers up
      C) Not fully match fit

      Whatever it is, I sincerely doubt Grayson is sat with a superstar on the bench afraid to use him.

  28. Colin

    Bloody hell – we spent the last 3 seasons in division 3 and now we’re 10th in the Championship and for some fans it’s just not good enough.

    Same old boo boys who enjoy nothing more than moaning.

    • Ramblinjohn

      @Colin Too right! Sure SG has made (repeated) mistakes but we had 10 first teamers out not long ago and we’re top half having spent more or less nothing…if we’re top half by the end of the season that would be a brilliant basis for promotion next year. That said NAYLOR MUST GO

  29. Will S

    Let’s kill one myth – that those who see Grayson’s limitations at this level are saying so because we expected promotion and that we should be in the top five and not losing a game.

    We (me) are saying that Grayson is a manager out of his depth because of the evidence of many performances in 2010, and more relevant, notable & concerning, the performances of the team this season.

    Grayson’s record in 2010 is marginally better than Strachan’s was at Boro.

    I don’t think Grayson is a problem because of our history.

    If I was a Rochdale fan watching a similar level of troubling performances, I would be asking for the manager to quickly prove himself or go.

    I say this as a fan who wants to avoid a possible relegation battle.

    Grayson is ultimately responsible, not Bates – there are enough decent cheap players out there to build a team capable of competing at the top of this division – alas SG to me is in danger of following Blackwell’s school of mis-management. He is no Mick McCarthy, David Jones, Billy Davies, Neil Warnock, Ady Boothroyd, Tony Pulis, Ian Holloway amongst others aplenty that can be named.

    I want him to succeed, I really do, but then people are only as good as their competence. In the real world of work, you see people promoted above their level of capability – its sad to witness, yet it happens.

    There is no sense of moral superiority in backing a dog just because he is your dog.

    Bates must be starting to have concerns and inwardly thinking I’ll given him 25 games or so. If not I suggest he starts.

    We cannot afford to be relegated – that is all that matters whilst promotion was never in my thoughts – Grayson for me is not capable of taking a team up to the Premier League, but he seems more than capable of taking a team down.

    • Dje

      @Will S

      Spot on. It isn’t about rash knee-jerk reactions against Grayson, it is about preemptive avoidance of a needless relegation battle (for which I don’t think the squad has the stomach for).

      I’m not sure that many people have actually come out to say Grayson must GO and now, as opposed to we need to see changes and quick. Are the knives really out?

      I think Grayson is a fine motivator and tactically he can get it very right as often as he gets it wrong, but there is a case to say that he needs back room help. If this means getting rid of Williams and finding a better director of scouting, or a coach with a better tactical presence then so be it. But some change is needed.

      Currently I think Grayson’s strength is in his man-management of 75% of the squad (the other 25% if utterly outcast for unknown reasons). He provides a good team ethic and is generally liked. This probably means that he is a bit of a matey-matey manager, as opposed to your more draconian hell and fire beast like Ferguson. That’s all fine and dandy for when it is going well, but you have to wonder how many drubbings (Barnsley), being outplayed (Leicester), and capitulations (Preston) we can take in the next few games before the squad confidence in themselves and their manager is completely shot threw. In which case we are in big, big trouble.

  30. Hugh Fox

    Its going to take time to get things right. Naylor has to go hes just lost us so many points this year, i cant understand why somma been pushed out wide either, wrong team, wrong tactics, wrong result

  31. sledgeross

    Its obvious the key player in all this is Paddy Kisnorbo. If we can get him back at Xmas, I have no doubt that he should get the armband and sort the team out from the back.

  32. Gryff

    We’re only 12 games in and all that, but our recent form is a little disappointing.
    Overall our form ignoring cups is:
    L – D – W – W – W – L – D – W – L – L – W – L
    If we take 3 losses & 1 victory as our consistent form for the seaon, we’d still be 1 point above the relegation zone at this point. But at the same time, there’s a lot of possible promotion contenders sitting between us and the relegation zone. I can’t see their bad form lasting.

    Grayson is very frustrating. He looked the real deal in L1. Yet towards the end we entered a freefall I didn’t think i’d see again for at least a decade. Fate was on our side for once and we’re now in the Championship. But when the players froze and the same lads who beat Scum, Watford, Norwich & Southampton looked scarcely L1 standard in front of the likes of Exeter & Brentford, it was clear that Grayson had problems motivating the players consistently.

    Yet again this season we’re shockingly inconsistent. Players are working well one match and forgetting their lessons entirely in the next one and playing like typical schoolboys: at times overzealous and at others utterly unmotivated. We’ve got in almost an entirely new team and still only guys like Kasper & Faye seem to keep their heads (with the former injured and the latter only able to contribute to a limited number of minutes a week by his age). Some of the blame must be placed with the manager.

    For all that, the likes of Michalik & Bromby aren’t making wage budgets much easier and I can’t see Bates throwing money at Grayson. He’s got us as far as we need to be this season – so far. Plus, if he was sacked I would think only the likes of Strachan, *gulp* Blackwell, and Poyet would be in our price-range. For me the only good manager we could afford on Bates’ stingy budgets would be Poyet and I doubt the fans would be too enamoured at his return even if he did seem to be the brains behind the successful team that was built up there with Wise.

  33. Colin


    I can use stats too and the stats show that no team below Leeds in the table have scored more goals than Leeds. And we’ve scored more goals than many above us.

    If we weren’t scoring goals I’d be worried, but we are and they’re coming from all over the pitch.

    SG plays an attacking game and an exciting game but that means that we’ll also be on the end of some hidings.

    What would we rather have? Dull 0-0’s and 1-0 wins or entertaining games that pull in the fans? You can get promoted to the PL by playing dull, but you’ll be destroyed once you’re in the PL. For me, I’d much rather develop a team that goes out to win every game and gives it 100%. Then if you do get promoted, you’ve got a chance.

    IMHO, it’s going to take a lot longer than 12 games to turn a div. 3 team into a Championship winning team. But if we’ve managed to get the goal scoring sorted then that’s a big step already. And we have.

    And come on, we’re down to a 3rd GK on a loan which was never planned. Once we get everyone fit, then we can judge on just how well we’re doing.

    I’m not sure about QPR or Cardiff, but if Leicester had played the same way against any of the other teams above us, they’d have beat them too.

    • Gryff

      @Colin i’d take boring Arsenal over a probably-soon-to-be 3 points from a possible 15.

      My concerns, though, aren’t with what kind of team we will be if/when we get to the Premiership, but the possibility of this Grayson team doing the same as last season and plummeting into the relegation zone.

      I agree with you on injured players, yet let’s not do down Jason Brown who has after all been considered good enough by a Premiership club to play understudy to the likes of Brad Friedel and Paul Robinson.

      I’m worried about our potential position this season and if truth be told we’ve had a team good enough for automatic promotion ever since the -15 season, and the results that season proved it. Grayson’s team has looked equal to that -15 team and has even caught the likes of Man Utd off-guard while giving Liverpool & Tottenham a run for their money. Yet they’ve also been indefatigably inconsistent whether playing against the likes of Derby & Preston, or the likes of Brentford & Exeter.

  34. henry vincent lewis

    Clean sheets are the basis of every good team.
    I would rather win 2 – 0 than 4 -3.
    1 -0 is better than 3 – 2.
    0-0 is better than losses like 5 – 2 ; 4 – 6 or 1 – 2.
    If you go to the premiership with a dodgy defense you are doomed.
    You do have to go out to win every game, but it has to start from the back.
    Strikers should not have to feel that when they step on the pitch they need 3 goals to win a game.
    We only beat Man U by a single goal, and we won that game because of a strong
    defensive display and a breakaway goal.
    If we had played all out attack we would have lost.
    You have to respect the opposition and earn the right to the victory.
    The 1 – 0 wins are vital for promotion.
    The important thing is to support the team 100% and no booing!
    We have to trust Simon while he is our manager.
    Without a strong, mean defense you win nothing!

  35. Cothamboy

    At the start of this season I sat down and thought about what was going to happen this year and I was realistic in my thinking . I new that we would loose matches this season and decided that I wouldn’t get too upset by the results (unlike last year when I new we shouldn’t have lost some of the ones we did).

    I am only looking for a good mid table finish this year and I don’t think it is unrealistic when you look at the other teams. This is going to be a tough year for alot of teams but we can stay there.

    I think that we need to give Larry a bit more time as he has got in 13 new players (inc loans) to the squad. I am not sure yet whether he knows who his starting 11 would be if they were all fit (injuries have obviously caused him some headaches).

    In conclusion I think we as fans should be a bit more patient as it is all too easy to jump at the Manager.

  36. Mark

    People should stop getting on the players back, and grayson’s by booing for a start! Look at the investment in other clubs, and compare it to ours? We have 2 forwards who were not only free, but came on a trial! That sums it up!! Look at leicester defence – 2 loans in who cost a combined 14 million quid [Naughton and Davies], while we had 4 ‘frees’, including a goalie whose played about 10 games in 4 years! You Grayson moaners do my head in. When he isnt a miracle worker you jump on his back! Maybe his magical touch is a bit weary right now, but look at the bigger picture! If Bates would just let the bloke spend a couple of million on 2 new defenders we could go up. He has to shop in bargain basement all time, and in the end quality counts! He s done a great job, and just because WE havent heard about signing defenders doesnt mean he hasnt tried to! He likes to everything he can as discreetly as possible, and rightly so. Grayson gave me 2 of the greatest days of my life following leeds last season, and i ll always defend him to the hilt. So all you boo boys, take your toys and throw them out the pram following someone else!

  37. Mike

    He also refused to play Somma despite watching him in training!…

    and now we find he is today looking for yet more players.
    It is time for him to look in the mirror for the problem.

  38. Old Billy White

    I’m not in favour of chopping and changing managers, unless there is someone proven to be better available. However jsut a couple of points.
    Since Kisnorbo was injured we’ve looked weak in defence, and yet the focus seems to have been on signing wide players and strikers.
    Is adding even more numbers to the squad going to be the answer, unless they are better, not just more of the same. This sometimes means the manager has too many choices, so it’s more difficult to get a settled team.
    Can anyone tell me of one of our own young players brought through by S.G. Are they not good enough? If they never play we won’t find out.
    Lastly mid table was always going to be a good season, as for the playoffs how many players do we have who could play in the premier league? Snodgrass, Schmichael?

  39. Stephen Clark

    Not sure where everyone things these young players are going to come from. What we need to realise that players we have had come through in recent years were recruited whilst we were in the top division. When it comes to signing youngsters for the Academy, we are picking up the scraps at the moment. If anyone thinks that any of the names mentioned in previous posts, such as Lees, Elliott etc would make a difference to this team then they are deluded.

  40. Matt BB

    Well the comments in the press look like Simon will be bringing in new recruits, i suspect to central midfield, and to defence, in all areas. Kens MO is usually that people will need to make way for them on the wagebill, so we might see people like Naylor, Bessone, Kilkenny, Higgs actually go, either out on loan or be sold in January. Remember people like Andy Robinson still on the wagebill so he will need to be moved on as well.

    I thnk for once we have a manager who will stand up and try to make a difference so I do get a bit cheesed off when people say he isnt capable of managing above mid table championship, I think theres a lot more to come from him. People bang on about how great Lambert is at Norwich but theyre not that much better than we are in the league, ditto Ferguson at Preston. The top teams have experienced managers in Jones and Warnock but the other side of the coin is that you w ould have hoped by now they would have got out of this league, and Warnock did that about 5 years ago and hasnt since.

    I hope Grayson stays in situ and gets the chance to improve the squad.

  41. Dje


    Seriously, in this footballing economic climate, moving on Naylor, Bessone, and Robinson is going to be a hell of a tall order. There could be interest in Kilkenny, and I guess Higgs is good enough when fit for Cheltenham for 50k or so.

    I still think Grayson rates Naylor. And reckons he is one of his core players.

    Actually, I am struggling to see what Grayson’s favourite 1st XI would be if all players were fit.

    Goal: Schmeichal, yep,

    Defence: Naylor and Connolly, definitely, he’d have Bessone in it too but for the derision it would create. Kisnorbo would be definite – but none of us know yet whether it will be the same calibre of player that returns. The same could be said for Parker too, but he has been out for so long that I cant remember if Grayson ever really rated him and played him more often than not. I still reckon Bessone was his dream left-back with the budget he had to spend. Regardless, put Kisnorbo and Parker down as a t.b.c.

    Midfield? You’d say Howson and Snodgrass would be in there somewhere. Presuming that he hasn’t lost faith in Howson.

    And up front – probably Becchio, unless he has Paynter in mind instead of the Argentine.

    The rest (Higgs, Collins, Bruce, demoted Kilkenny and Johnson, Watt, Sam, Hughes, Somma, Gradel, McCormack (why is he here?), Nunez (maybe one day), Clayton and White seem to be as and when required.

    Utter speculation of course, as Faye, Nunez, McCormack, fit-again Sam, Kisnorbo and Parker could come back and stamp their authority as a first team regular.

    What about the rest of you: who do you think is in Grayson’s (not yours!) core players for our XI with the squad we have at the moment? Only the definite names he’d have in (regardless of his talk about needing competition for all places in the team).


    ps. IMHO, Lambert is far better Grayson, Grayson is far better than Ferguson. But mid-table obscurity will be OK.

    • Stephen Clark

      CONNOLLY KISNORBO COLLINS PARKER (Yes he did rate him, probably first manager that has)

    • TSS

      Somma an ‘as and when’? You been watching the same team, mate?

      Since Somma made his full debut, Naylor, Bessone, Collins and Becchio have been dropped – Somma hasn’t!

      • Dje


        I have no doubt that when Somma goes three or four games without scoring – and possibly not his fault when stuck out on the left – and the the rapturous cries of the fans have waned, he will be rotated to the bench and McCormack / Paynter will come in. Somma will join Gradel in the super-sub category and if he comes on and bangs more in then he will be back in the starting squad cycle. On those grounds I dont believe that Grayson sees Somma as one of his core backbone of the squad.

        This isn’t a complaint or a fault about Grayson or Somma, if anything it suggests ‘good competition for places’.

      • TSS


        Can’t see it happening. Early days, but I suspect Somma already owns the position Jermaine Beckford left behind. The other three will be the rotated ones I reckon.

        Somma is a class apart from any other striker we have on the books. Powerful, skilful, able to take people on/hold the ball up, his movement is top drawer and he has a shot not dissimilar to Yeboah. I can’t hype him up enough, I really can’t. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t interest in him from above come January.

      • Dje


        I utterly agree with your verdict on Somma. And whilst he is scoring goals or hitting the bar then he’s guaranteed his starting spot. You’ve just got to wonder whether this dramatic revelation in the player has happened in the last five matches or was always there (ie. at Lincoln on loan). I suspect more the latter, in which case why has it taken Grayson and his coaches so long to pick up on it?

        As way of an apologist for Grayson – I can only figure that there was a part of Somma’s game that did and possibly still doesn’t fit into the system he wants to play as well as he would like. Hence my ‘as when required’ as opposed to core player (from Grayson’s point of view).

        On top of this, if Somma is so central to Grayson’s future plans then where is Somma’s new contract? As you said – there could well be interest in him come January. In which case we enter Beckford territory again, which strikes me as entirely needless.

      • TSS


        The problem was probably more to do with experience. If Larry had thrown him straight into the mix, his career in England would already be over and we wouldn’t be here talking about him now. He had to learn the English game and his loan to Lincoln was the ideal solution. You can’t criticise Larry for patience – he was the one that brought him here after all, and we still had Beckford last season (who got us promoted).

        I really am concerned he’ll be snapped up come January though. He’s definitely as good as Beckford, and I’d go as far as to say that he’s the best striker we’ve had since Mark Viduka.

  42. love leeds

    simple problem naylor,bruce and collins are not good enough if you want to finish in the top 10, and besides faye there is no other natural defensive midfield player.

    so we will finish btwn 9th and 15th and one week win one,one week draw another week lose.If bates does not pull his wallet out or we dont get good defenders for free next season we will not improve.

    How is Grayson to blame his been given less than a million to finish in a play off position, you must be mental.

  43. Craig

    Well TSS, your post has certainly provoked a response! As you say: “Quite why anyone would choose to be manager of a football team is beyond me, because you really can do nothing right.” For my money it was a balanced and realistic assessment of our present plight and a very well written piece to boot.

    Mike refers us to a YEP article I’d not read in which Grayson explains his dilemma: “I’ve tried to be loyal to players and work on things with them but we’re always on the look-out for better players to take the club forward. We’re always looking to improve the squad. I’m not shouting from the rooftops about what we can achieve or saying we’ll be top of the division and walking away from everyone else. But you want players at the club who are consistent with their performances and at this moment in time we’re not getting that from them.”

    I applaud Grayson for being loyal to players he believed could do us a job despite the fact that this means others get left out – a football team has just 11 players in it Mike. Several people above suggested that Grayson doesn’t know his best 11 but I question that on two fronts:

    1) the majority of team changes have been due to injury (Higgs, Schmeichel, Bessone, Connolly, Collins, Sam, Paynter, Watt, Snodgrass, McCormack – and that’s not counting the long-term injured like Kisnorbo, Crowe and Parker). That’s not a bad squad in itself! Add to these a few being dropped following very poor performances. It could be argued, for example, that Naylor only got another chance because Bruce didn’t do much better and then got sent off.
    2) football is a squad game and new tactics for different opponents often suggest a few different personnel to play most effectively.

    On the other hand, it looks like he’s signalling that his patience is wearing thin and some of them are on a limited tenure – probably Naylor since he’s been dropped several times already this season and Johnson who has been dropped to the bench more recently.

    I believe Grayson has the ability to guide us where we should be because he keeps faith in his players until it proves impossible to do so any longer and then he is brave enough to stick by his guns – Robinson et al. He’s also not afraid to give entry to players outside the team who are doing a consistent job in the reserves (Somma, Faye) and on many occasions he has shown the tactical nouse to turn matches (and sometimes results) around.

    Sure, Grayson has lessons to learn but I’d rather have a manager in place who has the character and basic tactics that are required and is willing to learn as he goes along than change managers every 6 months or so and watch the team freefall as a result.

  44. paul frome whinmoor

    the answer is simple, not enough investment in a fantastic opportunity. in the summer we didnt have to go out and do a man city to give us enough firepower around the pitch to gain double promotion. you only have to look at the results so far this season to se that everyone is capable of beating and losing to everyone. KEN BATES is where the problems lie, i dont think this man is interested in promotion. he is happy playing mr big off the back of LEEDS UNITED in the lower leagues. leeds in the prem would mean the end of his tenure and that is what he doesnt want. he provides total lack of investment and wants you to pay top dollar for it. we will never progress under this shister and we are kidding ourselves if we think we are going to. BATES OUT BATES OUT BATES OUT.. . . . . .PS, WHERE IS THE 5.5 MILLION WE RECEIVED FROM HESCO BASTION IN THE SUMMER FOR SPONSORSHIP ? ? ?. . . .I REST MY CASE !!!!

  45. Dje

    @paul from whinmoor

    It isn’t a very good case. It is a bit naive to think that money coming in from sponsorship – at a drip spread out over five years – hardly means it will go straight to strengthening the squad.

    As to Ken Bates not wanting us to get promoted because it “would mean the end of his tenure” is a bit daft. It would be the end of his tenure if he chose to up and sell for a ridiculously large profit compared to us being a lower Championship side. And if he didn’t want to sell then there’s the £70m he’d get guaranteed from promotion in the first place.

    Jesus, there’s hating Bates for reason, then there’s hating Bates beyond reason.

    • TSS

      @djedjedje Leave Paul alone! An irrational hatred of Bates is healthy for a Leeds United supporter… My doctor disagrees, but what does he know?

      • Dje


        Lol – yep, hatred of Bates is a common denominator amongst Leeds fans – even with his apologists there isn’t any genuine affection for the old ghet – which is useful because as your site shows, there isn’t much else we agree upon!

  46. Stephen Clark

    utterly agree with your verdict on Somma. And whilst he is scoring goals or hitting the bar then he’s guaranteed his starting spot. You’ve just got to wonder whether this dramatic revelation in the player has happened in the last five matches or was always there (ie. at Lincoln on loan). I suspect more the latter, in which case why has it taken Grayson and his coaches so long to pick up on it?
    Somma got carried off on his debut against Accrington in the JPT. When he became fit there was no way Grayson was going to use him at that pivotal point of the season, hence his loan to Lincoln. Grayson and his coached obviously knew his potential – That’s why they signed him. It took them two games this season to realise his value and he has been in the team ever since!!!

  47. love leeds

    first time im posting twice, Paul from whinmoor what are you on about.

    There is plenty of reasons to hate Bates. Number one lack of reinvestment in the club. Does bates own thorpe arch no,the ground no, the money from delph 7 million, the money we recieved from compensation from Everton for that 16 year old 1 million, has that been reinvested no.
    Does the price of matches equal the money he has pumped back inot the club no. Premiership prices.

    Also at the time he could have bought thorp arch back for 8 million and that was after selling delph for 7 million but he is not intersted.

    Craig is right i was not expecting crazy money but around 2 million for players this season instead of what is less than 1 million. Especially when players like Eustace and Morgan did not want to come for free.

  48. Dje

    @Stephen Clark

    True, I’d forgotten about that injury in the JPT. Having said that, we only offered him a 12 month contract last year – despite how good he was at Lincoln (where most of his goals were the kind of clinical finishes that would grace any level of football – not just shite defenders in L3). That smacks me of ‘still not sure about him’ rather than astute scouting knowledge. Still, glad we got him signed up until June, 2011.


    @TSS @ Stephen Clark

    Neither of you wondering why we haven’t jumped to offer Somma a new deal the second we knew his quality. We have recent pedigree here too, offering long contracts on the back of a few good performances – Delph, Grella etc. You’d have hoped that the Beckford saga had taught us a thing or two. Let’s face it, aside from long-term injury, offering Somma a very decent contract looks good business for Bates at least. Somma is instantly sellable in this sort of form he is in, or just sheer calibre of technique he has already shown.

    I think we need to move quicker than it appears we are doing over some of these contracts.

  49. Mike

    You can argue black is a darker shade of white if you wish and it is truly admirable of so many to leap to the defence of Larry but… IMO I am simply saying what most dont want to think let alone state.
    Larry is a dreadful man manager and that makes it impossible to be a successful manager of any venture which includes managing men which football does. His statements today will not help one bit.

      • Gryff

        I won’t be the one to make an exhaustive list of my own subjective evidence of Grayson being a poor man-manager but one result epitomises my belief:
        We were two goals up at half time having scored four goals. Yet Grayson went into the changing room and – judging by his post-match comments – gave them a bollocking.
        I don’t think i’ve ever heard of a manager criticising a team’s performance if they have performed well enough to be comfortably in the lead by 2 goals with half of the game gone.

        I do sympathise with Grayson, even if I don’t rate him as many fans do. Many of his signings have been excellent given his probable budgets, but I think his inexperience has left him grasping certain fads (like 4-3-3/4-5-1 with inside forwards) and using them out of place, and not man-managing well. Both are subjective complaints but are subjective complaints held by other fans than just me.

        Some managers don’t find man-management easy but it seems to be something that is often learned over a few years. My concern is that this flaw during a relatively young Grayson’s managerial tennancy is being exacerbated by a surprisingly mentally fragile group of players. It wouldn’t be a problem for me if I could see the future, and Leeds was 100% certain to stay up this season, but I think that given the sudden plummet in form last season we can’t rely on staying 10th-15th and ignoring a four-match drop in form because it could take just a 7-8 match poor run to drop into the relegation zone. Grayson says he doesn’t have a ‘magic wand’ but in reality I think he is misunderstanding many peoples’ complaints: not that we’re not 1st, but that our recent form could indicate us dropping into a relegation battle in the next few months despite our good form previously.

      • Stephen Clark

        DOn’t think anyone who watched that game would say we were comfortably in front. We played well in a purple patch for 15 minutes. I agree in that there was maybe weak management in not following through on his bollocking (See my blog Preston Post Mortem) , but that’s not bad man management. To me bad man management is where a manager loses his dressing room, and I am sure that is not the case.

  50. Dje


    Just out of interest – and sorry if you have already been asked this a thousand times here already (although I couldn’t have thought why!) – but who do you think IS a good manager.

    Just wondering.


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