HUDDERSFIELD TOWN manager Simon Grayson has broken his silence about his sacking by former club Leeds United – and insists he did not get the backing that would have taken them into the Premier League.
On the eve of tomorrow’s derby at the John Smith’s Stadium, when he will face his former club for the first time since being axed at the start of February, Grayson said he had tried to retain his dignity despite what he claims were unfair comments made to the press from within the club following his exit.
Grayson also revealed his disappointment at the way his departure was handled by chairman Ken Bates, with chief executive officer Shaun Harvey being given the task of handling him his cards following a defeat to Birmingham City on January 31.
He said: “Many things were said when I left and I did not take too kindly to one or two people saying things that did not need to be said.
“We left with dignity. We did a lot for that football club; not just myself, but Glynn Snodin and Ian Miller. We worked extremely hard to take Leeds forward.
“We left Leeds in a better position than when we took over. If you do that, you can look back and count your period of time as being successful.
“I have got no problems with Ken Bates; we had a good relationship.
“Could he have backed me a little bit more? Possibly.
“Could we have kept the players that we sold to take us to the Premiership like he wanted to? Yes, of course he could have done.
“Everybody says we were not given the opportunity to take the club forward. The time when we should have moved forward was the season we finished seventh (in 2010-11).
“We should have progressed that summer to buy players when really we stood still and hence we were where we were when we left, but also where the club went on to finish that (last) season.”
While Grayson had considerable issues with a lack of support at Leeds to help realise his ambitions, he was effusive in his praise of Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle, whom he described as extremely passionate and a man taking the club in the right direction.
He said: “He (Hoyle) is matching my expectancy levels and ambition by giving me the opportunity to bring players in.
“When we lost on Tuesday night, he was the first one on the phone saying, ‘It was one of those nights, we will get on with it’ whereas maybe at Leeds, there’s an inquest for two or three days why we lost or in games where we had won but not played well.”
On the events surrounding his sacking at Leeds, Grayson – who says he turned down an offer to manage in the Premier League during his time at Elland Road, thought to be with Burnley – commented: “It was frustrating and disappointing because I had a good relationship with him (Bates).
“I’d go out to Monaco and we’d share a laugh and a joke on a regular basis. We had a real good understanding.
“The last time I spoke to him was probably five o’clock before the Birmingham game when I told him the team and what we’d be doing. And I have never heard a word (from him) since.
“It was Shaun (who sacked me). Ken was flying back from South Africa, so he did not even see the (Birmingham) game.
“I saw it coming when I was told we had a meeting at the training ground at 10 the following morning.
“I rang my staff up and said, ‘I think we are going to be sacked’.
“Of course it hurt me, but it was more my professional pride.
“As a manager, you always know you are going to be sacked at some moment in time.”
Like Grayson, Town midfielder Adam Clayton locks horns with his former club tomorrow following a departure that also left a sour taste in his mouth.
The Mancunian, who left United shortly after being the surprise name among seven transfer-listed players at the end of last season, admits his departure felt like a ‘hammer blow’ at the time.
He said: “I just went into his (current manager Neil Warnock’s) office expecting the end of season chat and he said, ‘I am selling you.’
“It was five minutes – in and out. It was quite a shock to the system to be fair and I was quite upset on the way home.
“It was slightly weird. I had been looking at houses in Leeds.
“It was a case of walking into the meeting laughing and discussing what everyone else was, which was, ‘who do you think the seven players are he is letting go?’ but not really expecting the old hammer blow.
“He (Warnock) said he was more than happy enough to keep me as I had another year to go. But he got an attractive enough offer to let me go.
“We decided to leave and I am very thankful to come to a place on the up and there’s a very good atmosphere around the place.
“It was nothing to do with my terms or anything like that.
“The gaffer agreed to what I wanted and he went in to try and do it and it broke down a bit higher up, I think. And we had to part ways in the end.
“Neil wanted his own people in and he maybe was not getting the funds to do so from higher places and felt he could get more players with the transaction of me going.”