Friday, 31 December 2010

"its great when they call us scum"

SIMON GRAYSON will not win any popularity contests if he takes Leeds back to the Premier League.

The 41-year-old Yorkshireman accepts there is begrudging respect towards one of this country's biggest clubs but is equally aware of one very basic fact.
That everyone still hates Leeds.
Yet Grayson, whose team is currently 11 games unbeaten as they impress in their first year back in the Championship, says both players and fans thrive on this negative reputation, even though he yearns for Leeds to be loved for their football.
Grayson was limited to just a couple of appearances as a professional in four years at Elland Road and left just weeks before they won the old First Division title in 1992.
However, the former defender - who has just celebrated his second anniversary at the club - is proving that his terrific work at Blackpool was hardly a fluke.
Tomorrow, Leeds could return to second place if they beat Middlesbrough, a trip to rivals Cardiff awaits on Tuesday before the FA Cup third round match at Arsenal on Saturday.
Another massive week for the club.
Should Leeds continue their spectacular rise after the dark days of two relegations and administration, then Grayson's name will surely be spoken in the same breath as Don Revie and Howard Wilkinson by the club's fans when you consider the mess he inherited.
Speaking at Leeds' foggy training ground yesterday afternoon, he said: "I think the club's reputation - and the slight jealousy towards it - stems from the 1960s and 70s because we did so well.
"That tag stuck with us. But we love being hated - at times. Before we played at Old Trafford last season in the FA Cup, I watched them against Wigan and the Man United fans were still singing 'we hate Leeds' all through the game. But I think our fans now quite like it.
"I go to different countries and people talk about 'Leeds scum'. I walk to different games in this country and I hear the same thing. I turn around and say 'you talking to me?!'
"We are trying to get rid of that tag in terms of the way we play and the way we conduct ourselves.
"Obviously, we would love to be welcomed back to the Premier League and want people to like our football.
"We want to have that rivalry again with the big clubs. But our fans do not worry what they think of us in general.
"When I walked in the door two years ago, I said that someone will take Leeds United back into the Premier League, whether it was in three years, five years or 10 years time.
"Hopefully, I can be the one who does that."
It is impossible to escape history and tradition at Elland Road. Yet Grayson, who used to clean the boots of his chief scout Mervyn Day, says the past must not be forgotten.
He added: "I say to the players 'be the new heroes for the fans and have your pictures around the ground for many years to come'.
"I don't want the club to be taking the pictures down of the great players such as Bremner, Giles, Charlton, Lorimer, Gray. They made the club as big as it is now.
"I am sure in 10 years time, people will be able to reel off the names of the players who beat Manchester United in the FA Cup last season."
It was the FA Cup which provided Leeds with arguably the club's lowest moment and proved to be a key result in the departure of Gary McAllister and the arrival of Grayson.
Forget life in League One. Losing to a village team in a muddy field in Cambridgeshire in November 2008 was the pits.
Grayson said: "It has to be one of the low points. No-one new where Histon was. I was at home watching on TV thinking a) the match should not be played because of the pitch. And b) how Leeds were losing to this team?
"The next couple of results determined Gary leaving the club and hence, that is why I got the opportunity to come and take the dream job.
"It was an opportunity too good to go down. I knew what it mean for the people of Leeds as I signed as a 14-year-old, the same day as Gary Speed.
"I had a comfortable job at Blackpool. I never looked like losing my job. I felt this was the next stage to be tested at a big club. It was a gamble.
"But I have a good relationship with Ken Bates. Obviously that is easy to say as we are doing well. But he has always backed me.
"We have a laugh and a joke. We do not get too carried away when we do well and we do not get too down when we lose.
"When you are taking 5000 or 6000 to Barnsley and Coventry, you know you are in charge of a big club.
"I was at Wigan v Arsenal on Wednesday and there was only 17,000 there. We played Portsmouth and there was 32,000.
"It is just the size of the club and what we are about. That is more pressure on me, but that is why I am here."

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