Leeds United: Axed Simon Grayson leaves with tears and a salute for fans INTERVIEW

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Simon Grayson has thanked Leeds United’s fans for their backing during his time as manager and admitted he left Elland Road with “a tear in my eye”.

In a statement, Grayson described the club’s supporters as “magnificent” and paid tribute to the players and staff who worked under him during three years in charge.

In a statement, Grayson described the club’s supporters as “magnificent” and paid tribute to the players and staff who worked under him during three years in charge.

Grayson was sacked by Leeds on Wednesday afternoon after 169 games at the helm, with the club four places below the Championship’s play-off positions.

United said they “needed to make the change at this time in the belief that a new managerial team will be able to get more out of the existing squad of players”.

Grayson is in the process of agreeing a severance package, having left Leeds with 18 months remaining on his contract, and the matter is understood to be in the hands of the League Managers’ Association.

Grayson said: “At the moment it’s difficult to make a full statement as legalities haven’t been formalised but I didn’t want to wait to express my thanks to the Leeds fans who’ve been magnificent throughout my time at the club.

“Everyone knows how I feel about the club. There have been so many great moments throughout the three years I’ve been manager, and I hope you realise what it means to me to have been the manager of Leeds United.”

Promotion from League One in 2010 was the highlight of the 42-year-old’s tenure at Elland Road, and his reputation was enhanced by repeated impressive performances against Premier League sides in cup competitions.

United’s first year back in the Championship ended with the club one place beneath the play-offs but Grayson’s squad struggled to maintain pace with the top six this season.

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He and coaches Ian Miller, Glynn Snodin and Andy Beasley left Leeds after Tuesday night’s 4-1 defeat to Birmingham City, with United lying 10th in the table.

Grayson, who began his playing career at Elland Road in the 1980s but moved on to Leicester City in 1992, said: “I had a tear in my eye when I left the club 20 years ago and I had a tear in my eye again (on Wednesday).

“The only difference was I went with one bin liner of stuff 20 years ago – this time it was three!

“I’d like to thank all the players who have played within my three years. Also, my thanks go to all my staff who’ve been helpful during my period in charge. I wish you, the supporters, all the best for the future and maybe one day I may get the chance to come back to this great football club.”

Speculation about Grayson’s likely replacement has been rife since his dismissal, and the club said they had received numerous approaches from “credible” candidates since taking the decision to sack him.

But United revealed that they were still to begin considering expressions of interest and plan do so early next week. The club placed under-18s coach Neil Redfearn in caretaker charge for today’s Championship match at Bristol City and owner Ken Bates is due to fly to England from Monaco before United’s match against Brighton on February 11.

Former Sheffield United and Queens Park Rangers boss Neil Warnock is among the favourites for the post and is believed to be interested in replacing Grayson, but the YEP understands that Roberto Di Matteo – a close friend of Bates who played for Chelsea while Bates was chairman at Stamford Bridge – is unlikely to be named as Leeds’ new boss.

A raft of other names, including Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman, Barnsley’s Keith Hill and former Leeds captain Gordon Strachan, have also been linked with the job at Elland Road, and Huddersfield Town’s Lee Clark attracted huge support in the betting markets in the 48 hours after Grayson’s dismissal. Clark, who took charge of Huddersfield a fortnight before Leeds appointed Grayson in December 2008, denied receiving any contract from Leeds, and United in turn insisted they were still to make an approach to any potential candidate.

Clark is not expected to be among the names Bates and his board weigh up next week.

Asked if United had attempted to make contact, Clark said: “Not to me, no.

“I am aware of (the situation at Leeds) and I’ve been linked with a number of jobs over the past 12 months. All it does is stress that we’re doing a good job.

“It’s speculation and until I’m told otherwise, I’m the manager of Huddersfield Town. It (speculation) is part of the job.”

A statement from Leeds said: “Leeds United can confirm that the club have been inundated with credible approaches for the vacant managerial position since the departure of Simon Grayson and his staff on Wednesday.

“The club will begin the process of examining the expressions of interest early next week.

“We can confirm at this stage that no approaches have been made, either directly or indirectly, to potential candidates, either in work or currently looking for employment, although we have been offered the services of many who are currently in work.”

THANK YOU: Sacked Simon Grayson has paid tribute to United’s magnificent supporters

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