Date:Saturday February 25 2012
It is said that football is, by its nature, tribal. Perhaps this old cliché goes a long way to explaining why some Huddersfield Town fans do not greet the arrival of former Leeds United manager Simon Grayson with the alacrity that would have been expected from the neutrals.
The same neutrals shared a collective reaction of shock when the news came out that Lee Clark had been sacked by Dean Hoyle. Although Clark had lost only three of his last fifty-five league games, that statistic does not tell the whole story.
Huddersfield`s unbeaten league run, as remarkable as it was, consisted of far too many draws. Of the forty-three games that the Terriers went without defeat, eighteen of them were draws; it is what ultimately cost them promotion.
Rather than going gung ho to get three points, draws were suddenly accepted because they preserved the unbeaten run. The pressure told on the squad and, as they had done the season before, unravelled all of their hard work by losing in the play-offs.
After the succeessive play-off failures, many Huddersfield fans believed that Clark would, this time, get it right. However, rigorous changes were implemented for the third summer in succession. Rather than making small amendments, Clark threw the baby out with the bathwater and started all over again.
The turnover of players at the Galpharm has been remarkable in recent years. During Clark`s tenure of just over three years, excluding loan signings, a total of thirty-one players joined the club whilst forty-two were allowed to leave. This lack of continuity did not allow the squad to maintain any form of consistency in selection because of the options available to the Geordie. Promotion was not attained. Money was spent, money was wasted.
Grayson, on the contrary, has made his name at both Blackpool and Leeds by delivering success when working on a shoestring budget. Whilst at Leeds, the former defender signed thirty-three players on loan during his thirty-seven months in charge. Significant funds were not available. The chairman, Ken Bates, sold players without reinvesting the money into the squad.
Fabian Delph joined Aston Villa for an astronomical £6m; Kasper Schmeichel went to Leicester for £1m; club captain Jonny Howson was snapped up by Norwich for £2m and Max Gradel secured a late move to St Etienne for £1.7m. Leeds had money to back Grayson, it was provided sparingly.
In context, then, guiding Leeds to a 7th placed finish in the Championship last season is a remarkable achievement for the Yorkshireman. If a promotion from League One at Blackpool is thrown into the mix then what Huddersfield have on their hands is a manager who is pragmatic with his resources; quite the opposite to his predecessor, Clark.
Grayson is Leeds through and through - something which rancours amongst the Huddersfield faithful. The arrivals of Glynn Snodin and Ian Miller as a part of the backroom staff have also done little to ease the tension; both men were, of course, Grayson`s right-hand men at Elland Road.
The man himself, though, remains undeterred by the apprehension from the fans and is determined to win them over, he told the press that his "sole interest" is to get the club promoted and "if that means being in the Championship and going back to Elland Road and winning then so be it."
In the end, Huddersfield`s search for a new manager lasted a mere five days; Grayson`s time out of football after his sacking by Leeds was only nineteen days. The forty-two year old had no intention of coming back into management so soon but Huddersfield`s ambition convinced him that this was a project worth devoting time to. An ambitious club have an ambitious manager: from the outside looking in, this moves seems to be a perfect fit for both Huddersfield and Grayson.
Thanks to Sam Robinson for this article, you can follow him on Twitter @SamRobinson9
Date:Saturday February 25 2012
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