Leeds United manager Neil Warnock has admitted to looking with envy at the investment in Huddersfield Town’s squad, claiming the money made available to Simon Grayson is “beyond Simon’s dreams.”
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s derby, Warnock paid a warm tribute to Huddersfield owner Dean Hoyle and said the financial backing of Grayson had given Town a realistic chance of promotion from the Championship.
Hoyle, who is believed to have approached Warnock about the vacant manager’s job at Huddersfield shortly before Leeds appointed him in February, has been chairman and majority shareholder since 2009 and funded Town’s promotion from League One last season.
Grayson – the coach who Warnock replaced at Elland Road – has benefited from further support since Huddersfield’s return to the Championship, paying £400,000 to take midfielder Adam Clayton from Leeds and strengthening his squad with the signing of Keith Southern, Anthony Gerrard and Sean Scannell and loan deals for Jermaine Beckford, Simon Church and James Vaughan.
Warnock said: “Dean Hoyle’s been fantastic for Huddersfield. I’ve met him on a number of occasion and he puts his heart on his sleeve. He’s full of it and he wants to do so well.
“Huddersfield are lucky to have a man like him in charge because he’s so progressive and he wants to win.
“I have looked on with envy, I must admit. But good luck to them. I don’t think it’s been money stupidly spent. The players they’ve brought in are very solid Championship players and I don’t see why they can’t get top six.
“The investment there on the playing side is fantastic –beyond Simon’s dreams to be able to bring in the players he’s brought in. But he’s spent the money wisely and with Dean it’s his perfect job. The perfect man to work with. Simon will be grateful for the support.”
Much of Grayson’s three-year reign as manager of Leeds was dominated by questions about the levels of funding given to him by United chairman Ken Bates and the board at Elland Road, and Warnock’s tenure has been complicated by a lack of transfer funds.
Warnock revealed that he had also enquired about signing Beckford on loan from Leicester and Church on loan from Reading but was unable to complete either deal amid doubt about the now-finalised buy-out of Leeds by GFH Capital.
Completion of the takeover nine days ago allowed Warnock to agree loans with Swansea City defender Alan Tate and West Bromwich Albion winger Jerome Thomas but numerous other targets drifted away during lengthy negotiations between GFH Capital and current Leeds owner Bates.
Huddersfield stepped into sign Beckford – understood to be earning in excess of £30,000 a week at Leicester – after selling Jordan Rhodes to Blackburn Rovers for £8million, and asked if Beckford had been on his list of possible options, Warnock said: “Oh yes, of course. I tried to sign a lot of players, Simon Church as well.”
Warnock, meanwhile, refused to confirm whether he had spoken to Huddersfield about returning to the club as manager in the days before he accepted an offer to replace Grayson at Leeds.
Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers were both interested in employing Warnock following his sacking by Queens Park Rangers but a meeting with Bates in Monaco on February 17 convinced Warnock to take up an 18-month deal at Leeds. Grayson became Huddersfield’s new boss 48 hours later.
“They couldn’t have done much better, whoever they got,” Warnock said. “They couldn’t have done much better than promotion. And nobody was more delighted for them than me.”
Warnock is remembered in Huddersfield for his two years in charge of the club between 1993 and 1995, a spell in which Town won the Division Two play-offs.
“My time at Huddersfield was very special,” he said.
“We were building the new stadium and moving from the old Leeds Road ground. I felt I played a part in anchoring the club. It was the first time they’d been to Wembley since 1930-odd and a magical moment.
“So I don’t see any reason why I won’t get a good reception tomorrow – until the whistle goes. Then it’ll be different.”