SIMON GRAYSON will lock horns with former employers Leeds United in August having recently been appointed manager of Sunderland on a three-year contract.
Another three-year deal was signed by Grayson seven years ago this Thursday that was followed by his sacking 19 months further down the line.
My intentions have always been to take the club forward and after achieving promotion last season, I hope we can go on to fulfil everyone’s dream of winning promotion back to the Premier League.Simon Grayson
Having been appointed to the Whites hotseat in December 2008, Grayson and Leeds were on their pre-season tour of Slovakia seven years ago this week with the club having sealed a return to the Championship at the third time of asking – in Grayson’s second attempt.
Having also inspired Leeds to victory against Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup, Grayson was in demand and Fulham were among the clubs interested in his services during the summer of 2010.
The Ripon-born manager was also linked with former club Leicester City after Nigel Pearson’s departure to Hull City.
But after admitting that the then 40-year-old had received “enticing offers from elsewhere”, Whites chairman Ken Bates was able to announce on Tuesday, July 13 that Grayson had signed a new three-year deal – contracting him at the club until the summer of 2013.
As it happened, Grayson was at Preston North End by the summer of summer 2013 having taken the reins at the Lilywhites after a short-lived spell in charge of Huddersfield Town.
Sealing back-to-back promotions was the obvious goal but Grayson ultimately paid the price for dropping out of the play-offs down to seventh in the season that followed the signing of his new contract.
Grayson was unable to get Leeds going the following season but there was clear optimism in the air as the manager signed his new three-year deal.
“I’m delighted the club have offered me a longer contract,” Grayson said. “My intentions have always been to take the club forward and after achieving promotion last season, I hope we can go on to fulfil everyone’s dream of winning promotion back to the Premier League.”
Whites chairman Ken Bates said: “I’m very pleased. Simon has committed his future to the club despite enticing offers from elsewhere.
“We have every confidence in him.
“He has won two promotions in his managerial career – one here and one at Blackpool – and we’re hoping he can make that a hat-trick at the club where he first started out.”
That then looked like happening on several occasions, with Leeds starting the season with 10 points out of a possible 15.
Grayson’s side then went on a 12-game unbeaten league run throughout October, November, December and January – winning six – and after a 2-1 loss at Cardiff City on January 4, Grayson’s men responded with another seven game unbeaten run.
But Leeds then hit the buffers and after a run of just one win from eight games over March and April, United and Grayson’s chance was gone with Leeds finishing seventh and just three points behind sixth-placed Nottingham Forest.
Bates and Leeds kept the faith with their man for the following season which began with back-to-back defeats but then featured four wins from seven in September and October.
But three successive losses over the festive period proved impossible to recover from and – four games later – Grayson was dismissed after the galling 4-1 loss at home to Birmingham City which left Leeds tenth and three places from the Championship’s play-offs. Seven years on, Grayson is back in high demand after working the oracle at Preston and ready to welcome Leeds to the Stadium Of Light for a Saturday, August 19 televised tea-time treat.