PREVIEW: Leeds v PNE

Chris Wood
Chris Wood
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Simon Grayson’s three years and two months in charge of Leeds United might not fall into the same longevity bracket of the management reigns of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson.

But in terms of the revolving door policy in the manager’s office at Elland Road, Grayson should be getting a gold clock in recognition of long service.

He takes Preston to Leeds on Sunday for his first return in a working managerial capacity since getting sacked in February 2012.

Next to him on the touchline will be Steve Evans the seventh man to fill the manager/head coach role since Grayson’s departure.

Evans’ predecessor Uwe Rosler lasted five months, Neil Redfearn – assisted by Steve Thompson – had seven months in charge before him.

Darko Milanic and Dave Hockaday lasted two months apiece, before that Brian McDermott had 13 months in the hotseat.

The man who succeeded Grayson, Neil Warnock, lasted 14 months.

Many of the managerial changes have been made by Massimo Cellino since he became owner in 2014.

Grayson said: “Leeds is a club close to my heart, I started my career there as a player and supported them.

“I went full circle with managing them for more than three years.

“Leaving there was a big disappointment in my career.

“That happens in football and at some stage you are going to get sacked in football management.

“When you look at any successful club, they have had stability.

“You have got to give managers an opportunity to build foundations and put things in place to try and be successful.

“That is probably one thing which Leeds haven’t had.

“Look at our club, I have been here for nearly three years and we have progressed as we have gone along because of the continuity.

“Leeds have not had that for whatever reason and I think the supporters deserve a lot better. I look back on my time there as a success, nobody has got them to finish as high as they did in my first season in the Championship.

“At 3pm on Sunday, all that will go out of the window.

“I’m going back to try and help us put on a good performance and get a result like we did at Burnley and lots of other places.”

Grayson is one of six people on the PNE payroll with Leeds connections.

No.2 Glynn Snodin was also his assistant at Leeds, while first-team coach Thompson was at Elland Road last season before his time there ended with a controversial suspension.

On the playing front, Paul Huntington, Neil Kilkenny and Jermaine Beckford have all played for Leeds.

Also, Peter Ridsdale, advisor to PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, is a former Leeds chairman.

North End’s first visit to Leeds for five years has a Sunday kick-off due to the hosts having had a televised game with Wolves on Thursday night.

Leeds’ top scorer is Chris Wood with seven goals, the striker having been signed from Leicester in the summer.

Meet the manager

The colourful Steve Evans is head coach of Leeds, this the second time North End have crossed paths with him this season – he was in charge of Rotherham when they played in South Yorkshire in August. The 53-year-old took over at Leeds in October, three weeks after leaving Rotherham. He succeeded Uwe Rosler who had only been in the job since the summer. Evans is one of six managers/head coaches to work at Leeds since Massimo Cellino bought the club. Evans has former PNE winger Paul Raynor as his No.2 at Elland Road.

Meet the referee

Gavin Ward from Surrey is the referee PNE’s visit to Leeds on Sunday. His last game in charge of Preston was a 1-0 defeat at Brentford in March 2013. Mr Ward refereed Leeds’ 2-2 draw at Bristol City in August – one of 16 games he has taken charge of this season.