Leeds United boss Simon Grayson today hit back at criticism of his management – and vowed to see out another three years in the job at Elland Road.
Grayson, who reached his third anniversary as manager of Leeds yesterday, defended his record and dismissed criticism in the wake of their games against Reading and Watford as “ridiculous”.
The 42-year-old reached the end of his third year in charge after a 1-0 defeat to Reading at Elland Road, and his side were booed by a crowd of over 23,000 following a fourth home loss of the season.
Grayson, who has amassed 82 wins from 162 games as Leeds boss, is under increasing pressure amid expectation that he will guide the club to the Championship play-offs, and his side are sixth in the division with half of the season almost complete.
“The job has a high expectancy level and people are there to criticise you,” he said. “I accept criticism as well as I accept plaudits.
“People are entitled to express opinions but they don’t always know what’s going on. You get comments about results and performances from some people who probably haven’t even been to games.
“I’m open for criticism but people don’t know what goes on in the dressing room, they don’t know what goes on at the training ground and they don’t know the reasons why I make substitutions or pick the teams I do.
“I don’t get every decision right and I’m the first to admit that but neither does Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or any top manager. I’ve heard people say ridiculous things but that’s football in this day and age. You have to live with it and accept it. But we’re in a good position.
“We’d love to be playing free-flowing football and winning by three or four every week but it doesn’t happen. It’s a difficult industry and a difficult division.”
Leeds chairman Ken Bates was quoted this week as saying that Grayson “stands and falls by his results”, adding: “Obviously if he does not deliver, he knows his job is on the line and that applies to all managers.”
Grayson did not comment on whether promotion this season would be necessary for him to see out a fourth year in his job, but he admitted that a return to the Premier League was essential if he was to remain in the post for a further three.
Grayson, who took Leeds out of League One during his first full season and saw the club finish seventh in the Championship last term, said: “I would have thought so, yes (that promotion was needed in the next three years).
“The football club and the city demand that we get into the Premier League. But it’s not that easy to do and I’ve said all along that it’s going to be harder to get Leeds out of the Championship than keep them in the Premier League.
“Every manager is judged on what they achieve. Whether we have to get promotion this year or not, you’ll have to wait and see. But I want to do it this year. My players understand that but many other teams are trying to do the same.
“It’s not like we’re a club who’ve come down for the Premier League and are trying to go straight back up. We spent three years in League One and we’ve only been in the Championship for 18 months but we feel we’re capable of doing it this season. The bottom line is that we want to do it this season..”
Asked if he was aware of more pressure on him, Grayson said: “There is pressure but I’d feel it more if I didn’t think I was doing the right things. I like to think I know what I’m doing but I’m not so big-headed to think I know everything. I work hard to make the club successful.
“It seems like only two minutes since I came in and I still love coming to work every day. When you first come through the door, you want to reach anniversaries and see that the club’s progressed. We’ve certainly done that and I’m looking forward to being here for another three years.”