Simon Grayson

Two years in charge for "Larry"

The 23rd of December 2010 marks two years of manager Simon Grayson’s reign at the club.

As the song goes, we’ve had our ups and downs in that time, just as we always do. As stressful as being a Leeds fan can be, I’d say there have definitely been more highs than lows over the last two years.

“Larry’s” Leeds career started with a difficult home match against League one leaders and eventual Champions Leicester City on Boxing Day 2008. Leicester went ahead in the first half and it looked like it could be a slow start for the new boss until substitute Robert Snodgrass fired in a late equaliser.

At the time of publishing, Grayson’s record stands at W62, D23, L26 – a win percentage of 55.86%. Now the side are currently on a nine match unbeaten run, having just beaten league leaders QPR at Elland Road and as a result sit 2nd in the league in our first season back in the Championship. It’s been a very impressive couple of years for the boss.

Obvious highlights of Simon Grayson’s time at Leeds include the FA Cup defeat of Manchester United and promotion to the Championship. The 3rd of January 2010 has gone down in history as a great day for Leeds United – not simply because we got one over on Scum but because the manner of victory was so tremendous. The story doesn’t need retelling but winning away to our most loathed rivals – positioned, at the time, two leagues above us – showed a brilliant effort by both Grayson and his staff and the players – one which Leeds fans have every right to be proud of.

This season, despite blips against the likes of Barnsley and Preston and the reshuffling of formations – in particular the defence, what has shone through is a collective spirit that has been instilled in the team. The spirit was none more evident than recently against Crystal Palace and Burnley, where Grayson’s boys came being behind to snatch all three points on both occasions.

The resilient spirit of the players and staff started to become evident at the end of the promotion season, in particular on the 8th May – the final day of the season and ultimately judgement day on whether our campaign had been a success or a failure. Having lost Max Gradel in the first half for a stupid red card and then going one behind early in the second period, goals from Jonny Howson and Jermaine Beckford ensured the win for Grayson’s team – sending the full house inside Elland Road into delirium.

Our beloved Whites had seemed almost reluctant to get promoted but, after a run of poor games that left fans biting their nails, Simon Grayson and the boys finally clinched promotion and got us out of the hellhole of League One. The rot needed to be stopped and Simon Grayson was the man to do it.

We mustn’t forget Simon Grayson’s relative youth. He is entering only his sixth year of management with just his second club. There is no doubt he is still learning as a manager but the signs are extremely promising. There have been moments when fans, myself included, have seriously questioned his judgement but that’s football – it wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t think we could do a better job sometimes.

“Larry” has shown some signs of good man management. It’s taken a while but it seems as if we’re starting to see the better side of Jonny Howson having been handed the captain’s armband by Grayson. Dropping Luciano Becchio to the bench recently saw the Argentine striker come on to grab a quickfire hat-trick – his first in English football. A similar tactic was employed when want-away striker Beckford was misfiring towards the end of the last campaign, Grayson took the bold step of dropping our top scorer to the bench prompting the star man to bounce back to form scoring vital goals and clinching promotion for us.

There can be no doubt that Simon Grayson has done a brilliant job at Leeds so far – not least for dealing admirably with our controversial and infuriating chairman – and hopefully the team will continue to learn and grow under him and be pushing at the right end of the league table come the end of the season. Grayson’s passion for the club is undeniable and fans should be excited by having such a promising, young English manager at the helm. As long as he continues to develop and progress as a manager Leeds looks set for good times under his guidance.

So here’s to “Larry”, for two fantastic years and for many more to come!