Leeds refuse to be rushed into naming Grayson replacement

Roberto Di Matteo. PA
Roberto Di Matteo. PA
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LEEDS UNITED have no plans to approach any potential successor to Simon Grayson until after the weekend at the earliest, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.

The Elland Road club has been inundated with applications since news first broke on Wednesday that 42-year-old Grayson had been sacked after a little over three years in charge.

Chairman Ken Bates has spent the past 24 hours sifting through the list of potential candidates but is in no rush to make a decision with Neil Redfearn having been put in temporary charge for tomorrow’s game at Bristol City.

Among those believed to have registered their interest is former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock, who within hours of the vacancy arising had been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite.

Former West Bromwich Albion boss Roberto Di Matteo was another to feature strongly in the early betting along with Gordon Strachan and Steve Bruce, while yesterday saw Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark’s odds slashed dramatically following suggestions that United chairman Bates was an admirer.

However, despite a flurry of bets on the Terriers chief, this newspaper understands that the 39-year-old is not under consideration by Leeds due to the club wanting a manager with experience of getting a team into the Premier League.

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet, who yesterday distanced himself from a possible return to Elland Road, is another not on United’s radar due to the club hierarchy being unhappy at the manner of his departure in 2007 when the Uruguayan quit suddenly on the eve of an important home game against Millwall to take up a role as Juande Ramos’s right hand man at Tottenham Hotspur.

A wish to appoint a manager with a proven record in the Championship would seem to open the door for both Warnock, who has led three teams to promotion from the second tier, and Di Matteo, the Italian having taken West Brom into the Premier League as runners-up behind Newcastle United in 2010.

Both would represent intriguing appointments with Warnock’s track record of achieving success on a budget chiming with chairman Bates’s thoughts.

The 63-year-old, who following his sacking by QPR last month was sounded out about a possible vacancy at Ipswich Town, is keen on a return to Yorkshire.

Di Matteo, meanwhile, has established a reputation as a bright managerial prospect following stints in charge of West Brom and Milton Keynes Dons.

From his four years as a key member of the Chelsea midfield, he is also close with Bates and his wife Suzannah, so much so that Zoe, Di Matteo’s wife, and the couple’s children were guests at the United chairman’s 80th birthday party late last year.

Others to have been linked with the job since Grayson’s exit include Paul Ince, MK Dons chief Karl Robinson and former Leeds striker Dougie Freedman, while caretaker manager Redfearn last night also declared his interest.

He said: “I am capable, that goes without saying. But the bottom line is the decision is up to the club.”