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Is Simon Grayson Poised for a Yorkshire Return as the Next Leeds United Manager?

Elland Road Football Stadium in Leeds
Credit: Mtaylor848, Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve been in a job for just three months and already find yourself having to comment on your future, it’s possibly a sign that things aren’t going to end too well.

But that’s exactly the situation Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom finds himself in after taking the reins at Elland Road as recently as February.

The former Barnsley man has overseen a run of W4 D4 L8 at the helm, and clearly that isn’t good enough for a club of Leeds’ ambition.

With discontent rising in the stands as the Championship season concluded, it would be fair to say that Heckingbottom is on thin ice, with the Yorkshire outfit not known for their patience.

The one saving grace is that former chairman Massimo Cellini, the chief architect of Leeds’ trigger-happy sacking culture, has left the club. However his replacement, Andrea Radrizzani, has already witnessed Garry Monk resign and has sacked Thomas Christiansen in barely a year in charge.

All of which suggests Heckingbottom, who only signed an 18-month contract, could be vulnerable with his compensation payment lower than the norm for a new manager. He will head off on his summer holiday with his phone on silent, that’s for sure….

Return of the King

The bookmakers have priced up their ‘next Leeds United manager’ market already, and while there are some interesting names on the list it is the available Simon Grayson, at 33/1, who really intrigues.

He started his playing career there as a youngster, and oversaw arguably the best period of Leeds’ recent history from 2008-2012. They were promoted from League One, beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in an FA Cup tie and drew with Tottenham. Grayson also took Leeds to within a whisker of the Championship play-off places.

He was eventually sacked by the club, but after securing promotion with Preston and Huddersfield since he would surely love another crack at helping Leeds to return to the top flight.

Grayson is currently available too after deciding not to renew his short-term contract at Bradford City.

Curiously, the current bookmakers’ favourite for the job is Jaap Stam, who was sacked by Reading earlier in the year after overseeing their rather dismal campaign.

Stam, a former player at Leeds’ rivals Manchester United, is not well liked in these parts after his comments about the Yorkshire club’s fans after they sang ‘boring, boring Reading’ during a league encounter.

“You can tell something about how they are as human beings to be fair,” were his choice words afterwards. “It’s a way of thinking. Because if you think that this is boring, I think they need to have a look at their own team and how they play.”

That makes Stam a rather unlikely 6/4 favourite then, with Mick McCarthy a rather more likely option at 9/4. Yorkshire born and bred, the former Republic of Ireland international did a fine job at Wolves and did well to stabilise Ipswich, a club with a tiny budget compared to many of their Championship rivals.

But how often do we see managers returning to the site of past glories? Grayson might well be the next in line.

Barnsley Set for New Bottom?

Barnsley were relegated from the Championship this term, and their former manager Jose Morais was dismissed shortly thereafter.

So the Tykes are seeking a new manager….could Heckingbottom be in line for a shock return?

That was where he cut his managerial teeth after all, and did a fine job by all accounts. You would assume that the fans would be receptive to their former boss, so once again all the boxes appear to be ticked.

If you like the sound of that as a wager, keep your eyes peeled for any movements up the road from Barnsley in Leeds.