KEN BATES has told Simon Grayson to ignore the pressure and get on with the task of managing Leeds United.
The United chief’s future has been a huge subject of debate in recent weeks, most notably after the three-game losing run that preceded Monday’s dramatic win over Burnley.
Ross McCormack’s stoppage-time winner was the cue for delirious scenes all around Elland Road with Grayson even setting off on a Jose Mourinho-style charge down the touchline in celebration.
Grayson’s emotional response suggested he believed beating the Clarets was important for his future job prospects following the abject manner of United’s performance in losing 4-1 to Barnsley just two days earlier.
With that in mind, therefore, it is perhaps an appropriate time for the Yorkshire Post to ask Bates if he still has faith in his manager.
“I knew you would bring that up,” replied the Leeds chairman. “He is now probably the longest-serving manager in the Football League.
“His record over the last three years is in the first year we got to the play off semi-final, the second year he got us promotion and in the third year we finished seventh.
“This year, despite the fact we have had our blip early, we are one point off the play-offs. We are also ravaged by injuries.
“He is the manager. Don’t start putting pressure on him.
“Don’t forget they (supporters) were talking of sacking (Sir Alex) Ferguson when he lost 6-1 (to Manchester City) earlier in the season. Then, they were talking of sacking Wenger. Who else are you going to sack?”
Bates’s plea about not putting extra pressure on his manager is understandable, even if the Leeds chairman admits that it comes with the territory. He added: “If you are chairman, you have to live with pressure. If you win on Saturday, it’s, ‘Yeah, we’re going to win the league’. But if we lose, it’s ‘We’re getting relegated’ and they shout ‘sack the board’.
“When they chant your name and cheer, thanks very much. But (remember to) take it with a pinch of salt. And when you get the reverse, take it with a pinch of salt and get on with it. As Harry S Truman once said: ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’.”
Leeds head to Arsenal on Monday for a repeat of last season’s FA Cup third round tie between the two clubs with Spurs loanee Andros Townsend certain to play after being granted permission by Harry Redknapp.
Thierry Henry will go straight into the Arsenal squad after returning on a short-term loan deal from New York Red Bulls.
Whether United will have any other new signings in the line-up remains to be seen but the club is actively searching for additions with Grayson seeking the capture of a midfielder, a right-back and the bolstering of his options at centre-half, injuries to others having left only Darren O’Dea and Tom Lees fit ahead of the trip to north London.
Supporters are also keen to see signings made, especially after what many of the Elland Road faithful considered to be a disappointing summer transfer window that saw Max Gradel leave along with Neil Kilkenny, Kasper Schmeichel and Bradley Johnson.
Asked if Grayson has money to spend, Bates replied: “With our manager, the reason why Leeds are successful financially is that we do our budgets.
“We have 17 cost/profit centres and everything is okay. We have 220 full-time staff, 700-800 part-time staff and I think we also employ half the police in West Yorkshire – or that is what it looks like when I see the bill coming in.
“We do our budgets. I add up all the income, deduct all the expenditure, use it as a credit balance, take off a sum for contingencies and then say to the manager, ‘That’s how much we have to spend, wages and transfer fees’.
“I then say to him, ‘If you sell any players that money comes into the pot. If you spot any players that money comes out of the pot. You are the manager, you will stand or fall by your decisions, therefore they are your decisions’.”