Town to take time choosing Grayson’s successor

Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson
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ACADEMY manager Mark Lillis could be in charge of Huddersfield Town for at least the next three games as the search for a new manager gets under way, the Yorkshire Post understands.

The Terriers yesterday sacked Simon Grayson in an attempt to halt their alarming slide down the Championship table.

Occupying a play-off place in mid-November, Town have slipped to 18th and to within seven points of the relegation zone courtesy of a 12-game winless run.

Chairman Dean Hoyle delivered the devastating news to Grayson at a hastily-convened meeting yesterday afternoon. Coaches Glynn Snodin and Ian Miller, who both worked with Grayson during his near three-year reign at Leeds United, have also been shown the door.

Nigel Adkins, sacked just last week by Southampton, has been installed as the early favourite by the bookmakers to succeed Grayson with the 47-year-old former Scunthorpe United chief believed to be a big admirer of the progressive set-up at the John Smith’s Stadium.

However, the Yorkshire Post understands that Huddersfield do not have a new manager lined up and that the board instead want to take their time in identifying who is best qualified to take the club forward.

Lillis, who has assumed control of first-team affairs with senior professional development coach Steve Eyre, will take charge of 
tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Leicester City.

The one-time Town striker is also set to be at the helm when Crystal Palace come to West Yorkshire on Wednesday and then again at Derby County on February 2.

Yesterday’s dramatic turn of events was the culmination of a horrendous start to 2013 for Huddersfield in the Championship with a 6-1 thrashing at Leicester and a 4-0 defeat at Watford sandwiching a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Birmingham City that saw Adam Hammill rescue a point late on.

The four-goal loss at Vicarage Road proved to be the tipping point for chairman Hoyle, who has admitted that a looming threat of relegation was behind the change.

He said: “In making this decision, we have thought long and hard. It has been made with both the short-term and long-term needs of the club in mind.

“We brought Simon in with the immediate aim to lead the club to promotion and he did that at the first attempt. It is an achievement for which we are grateful.

“We knew the transition to Championship football would be difficult and our targets for this season have been realistic, with retention of our status the priority.

“However, having worked so hard to get back into the second tier we have to do everything we can to consolidate that position.

“After exceeding all our expectations in the early part of the season, our results and performances as a team, and from individual players, have tailed off alarmingly.

“Worsening displays have accompanied a run of just six points and no wins from the last 12 league games, including some very heavy defeats, culminating at Watford last Saturday.”

Grayson’s sacking comes at the end of a 12-month spell that has brought widely contrasting emotions for the 43-year-old.

Sacked by Leeds on February 1 last year, he was appointed by Huddersfield just 20 days later with the clear brief of winning promotion from League One.

He achieved that aim in May when the Terriers triumphed in the play-off final at Wembley against Sheffield United.

A flurry of signings followed in the summer and, initially, the signs were promising with even the £8m sale of Jordan Rhodes to Blackburn Rovers in late August failing to derail the club’s impressive start to life back in the second tier.

The 1-0 win at Barnsley on November 10 saw Town return to the play-off places but since then a return of just six points from 12 games has seen the Yorkshire club slide down the table.

Hoyle added: “While we would all have hoped for even some modest signs of improvement to begin to emerge as the weeks have passed, that has not been the case. This has made the position untenable.

“We will now seek to recruit a new first-team manager who can, in the short term, lead and reinvigorate the team and players for the remainder of this season and also drive us forward towards our long-term aims.

“We will not rush to make a new appointment. In the interim, Academy manager Mark Lillis and senior professional development coach Steve Eyre will take control of the team, starting with the 
FA Cup fourth-round game at home to Leicester City.

“Managerial change is a last resort and I hope our supporters will now get fully behind the team, Mark and Steve, starting on Saturday.”

Following yesterday’s sacking, Town fans took to various social media networks to call on the club to move for Adkins.

He, though, is believed to be away on holiday, recharging his batteries following his shock dismissal by Southampton last week.

Interest in the vacancy is high, as is to be expected of an ambitious club who have been bankrolled by lifelong fan Hoyle in recent seasons.

A flood of applications are understood to have already been submitted with the likes of former Burnley and Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle believed to be interested along with Gary Megson, Billy Davies and Paul Ince.