Dave seddon’s pressview

Simon Grayson during his tenure as Leeds manager
Simon Grayson during his tenure as Leeds manager
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Simon Grayson takes Preston North End to Elland Road tomorrow, this his first return in a managerial sense since being sacked by Leeds getting on for four years ago.

He has been back as a pundit and for scouting purposes but this will be his first time stood on the touchline since the back end of January 2012.

Grayson’s time in charge of Leeds was a pretty successful one and provides an alternative view to a comment which I have heard and read quite a few times.

While he has guided four clubs to promotion out of League One, the accusation is often made that he struggles in the Championship.

Maybe his sacking as boss of Huddersfield on the back of a sizeable run of games without a win, is muddying the waters of what he has done elsewhere?

Grayson’s first season as a Championship manager saw Blackpool finish 19th under him, two points clear of the relegation zone.

When he left Bloomfield Road to take the Leeds job in December 2008, the Seasiders were in a comfortable 16th position.

After a play-off semi-final defeat in the 2008/09 season at Leeds, Grayson guided them up automatically a year later.

The Yorkshire club’s first campaign back in the second tier saw them finish seventh, just three points off the play-offs.

That is a position which has not been matched since he was given the boot.

Leeds were 10th when they sacked Grayson, three points shy of the play-off pace.

Hardly a sinking ship and with him gone, they eventually finished four places lower than where he had left them.

It is the Huddersfield job which seems to have placed doubts in one or two people’s mind about his Championship credentials.

One win in 13 saw the axe swung, although they were far from cut adrift when it happened. Indeed, the Terriers were in 16th place when he left, Grayson swiftly back into employment three weeks later at Deepdale.

This season, him and North End have steadily got to grips with the Championship.

Ahead of this afternoon’s fixtures and tomorrow’s hop over the Pennines, Grayson’s men occupy 16th place.

One defeat in 11, unbeaten in four, back-to-back wins recently achieved for the first time this season – that’s solid enough progress in my book.

Maybe it is the relative wealth of the clubs which Grayson has brought up into this division, which has played a part in what he has done in the Championship.

Blackpool were not exactly rolling in cash, neither so Huddersfield.

North End’s current budget, which keeps them living within their means, is decent but towards the lower end of this level.

It was at Leeds where Grayson had a higher amount of money available, thus giving him the helping hand for that high finish in 2011.

Preston are benefiting from the period of stability they have had with Grayson in charge.

After getting through four managers in a little over four years, we are only two months off the third anniversary of Grayson’s appointment.

In the four English leagues, he is the 14th longest-serving manager.

Contrast that to Leeds, who have had seven managers or head coaches in situ since Grayson left.

As the two clubs prepare to do battle in Yorkshire, just a single point divides them.

It has not been a bad week for North End, with four points taken from the home games with Reading and Birmingham.

Their performance against the Royals was deserving of more than a 1-0 win, earned with a penalty.

At Deepdale, it was their best showing of the season.

Maybe luck shone on them when Birmingham visited on Tuesday night.

There was nothing lucky about Jordan Pickford’s display mind you, his four saves in the second half being straight out of the top drawer.

But fortune came in the shape of the visitors twice hitting the woodwork and twice fluffing one-on-ones.

Demarai Gray was one of the quickest players I’ve seen in a long while here but had one of those nights when he couldn’t finish a good dinner, let alone two glorious chances when put clean through.

Birmingham deserved their point, you could argue that second-half show merited even better.

However, that would take away from a decent-enough Preston performance in the first half in which they could have been further ahead, rather than just having Adam Reach’s goal in the bag.