Ex-Leeds United boss makes brilliant play-off final celebration vow amid prediction and 'bias'

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Former Whites boss Simon Grayson has spoken to the YEP about Leeds United’s season - and Sunday’s play-off final.

Former Whites boss Simon Grayson has issued his Leeds United season verdict with a prediction of Sunday’s play-off final and a personal celebration vow.

Bengal Brasserie Arena Quarter – serving authentic Indian cuisine in the heart of the city. Proudly supporting Leeds United and the YEP. Grayson took Leeds up from League One to the Championship during his four years in charge at Elland Road, his side bagging automatic promotion on a dramatic final day of the 2009-10 campaign.

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Fourteen years on, his former side’s bid for promotion back to the Premier League now rests on the play-offs and Sunday’s Wembley final against Southampton for which Grayson will be doing punditry work for the EFL.

There will, though, admits Whites fan Grayson, be no attempt to hide his Whites ‘bias’, or celebrations in the event of Leeds promotion which their former manager “expects” come Sunday evening.

Grayson felt that United’s promotion prospects were dependent on their front four firing - something achieved in no uncertain terms in the semi-final second leg blitz of Norwich City.

Speaking in an interview with the YEP via freebets.com, Grayson pondered: “I said before going into the play-off games that the front four needed to sparkle, they needed to get their mojo back again and in that second leg they did.

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"Any time it went to Rutter, Gnonto, Summerville and Piroe they were just unplayable. They had a good base behind them in the back four and Gruev and Kamara. They are playing probably the best team in possession of the ball, Southampton will try and dictate it.

"It's not how much you have of the ball, it's what you do with it and I think it will certainly be a lot tighter game than it was at Elland Road when it was just a man to man basketball game and you attack.

"Southampton had nothing to play for, we had to win the game and went out in a style of play that probably Daniel doesn't like to play but he did for that particular game. Everybody is going to be so excited about it but apprehensive at the same time because we all know what's at stake come Sunday night time."

Pressed, then, if that meant he was predicting a Whites win, Grayson smiled: “My glass is always half full anyway so I expect them to go through. Even three games from the end of the season, I am still thinking they are going to get automatic promotion.

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"It's probably my heart ruling my head to be fair in that sense. But I just think that they have got their mojo and that spark back in the second leg and it will just give that renewed confidence and vigour to them players because on any day they are as good a front four as anybody in the league and then Dan James waiting in the wings and other attacking options as well.

"So I think if the occasion doesn't get to some of the younger players, or any of the players, then I think we have got a really strong chance but everybody at Southampton will be saying the same thing as well.

"They will be thinking we have got some talented players, some good experienced players that have played in the Premier League and we can hurt the opposition as well. I do think it's going to be a cracking game to be fair."

Just three points separated third-placed Leeds and fourth-placed Southampton in the final table and the Saints were the only team to beat the Whites home and away during the regular campaign.

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Grayson, though, has been impressed by the way which boss Daniel Farke has re-galvanised the Whites after their final day defeat to the Saints and has given a glowing verdict of the season as a whole.

"I think the overall view of it all is that it's been a really good season because it was such a mess last summer in terms of when Daniel came in,” admitted Grayson.

"He had so much to deal with, he didn't know who was staying, who was going, what budget he was having, what players he was having, what the expectancy levels were going to be and that carried on to the first month of the season until the deadline finished on August 31.

"But what he's done is he's used his experience of understanding the football club. I think he has grasped what Leeds United has been all about and what the city needs and what the supporters want and he's got a really good affiliation with them.

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"And then once he got this sort of snowball effect of positive results then it's just kept on going. He has made Elland Road into a fortress which is not easy to do because of the expectancy level and sort of the moans and groans that you have.

"But once you do get it going to be an incredible place to manage and play in as well and I think a much amount of respect to him to be able to do that after a tough couple of seasons with other coaches in before him.

"He's got to them to a part where everybody will be frustrated because it looked at one stage like we were going to go straight up to then thinking play-offs, are we even going to get to the final to now getting to the final and one game away from getting back to the Premier League.”

Grayson added: “I think what he's done really well as well has been when that adversity has been around, around about Christmas time they lost at Preston and West Brom and then the last month of the season has not going anywhere like it was, the Blackburn game, the Sunderland game, it puts extra pressure going into the last game against Southampton which was out of his control or the club's control because Ipswich did what they did.

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"But he has galvanized in a short space of time the negativity with a positivity of one getting a really good result and performance at Norwich but then absolutely blowing them away in the second leg which was one of the best performances I've seen all season from them and what an incredible atmosphere.

"It shows that you can have a little bit of negativity and adversity against you but you can turn that around and you can get it going the other way. That's why it's so exciting this weekend coming but also it is one of hopefully it doesn't flatter to deceive as well." 

Grayson will be there to see it all unfold, 14 years on from leading the Whites to promotion with the incredible final day win against Bristol Rovers. Wild celebrations followed, and Grayson won’t hold back from doing the same this weekend should United get the job done.

"I am doing some work for  the EFL so I am in some of the lounges before and doing bits and bobs so I'm having a full day of it really,” said Grayson. "I will be very biased in my approach and my opinion on things and I won't be holding any emotions back if we score and when we win."

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