Why Simon Grayson had to go
Just a year after Lee Clark left Huddersfield Town, the man who took the Terriers to promotion, ex-Blackpool and Leeds United boss Simon Grayson, has followed his footsteps in the snow. So, once again, close Town watcher John Dobson, identifiable on Twitter here, has something to write about.
It’s only eleven months ago that I was last writing about Huddersfield ushering a manager to the exit, P45 in hand, but here we are again. It’s Simon Grayson this time, and once again the critics are wondering how it came to this.
Events of the last 24 hours haven’t been on the same scale as when Lee Clark was fired, but in light of outwardly baffling managerial changes, it’s still raised eyebrows. After all, was Grayson not the man to finally get Huddersfield into the Championship? Were they not second in the table at one point? Indeed he was.
It was a bright start to Championship life. Despite only taking one point from the first two games, those were against sides expected to be battling for promotion. Town had matched both Cardiff and Nottingham Forest and played some decent, attractive football. Good away wins at Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool – though the performance there can be better described as ‘pragmatic’ – followed, but then it began to turn, starting with a comprehensive home defeat to Leicester.
The last truly decent performance came in late October when Wolves were beaten 2-1 at home. There, Jermaine Beckford and James Vaughan were outstanding, Oliver Norwood pulled the strings in the middle and Jack Hunt supplied both goals from his right-back role. Since then, they have won just three times – twice in the league – all 1-0 and none with anything much to report about the football which remains resolutely stodgy and difficult to watch.
Beckford and Vaughan have both been enigmatic figures. Undoubtedly talented, both have missed more games than they’ve played since their arrivals on loan. This, coupled with Norwood’s bizarre loss of form which just seemed to be switched off after the Wolves game, has affected the team greatly. With the midfield playmaker reduced to passenger status, the ball bypassed that area altogether, something that’s even more tempting when Alan Lee is on the field.
If you’re losing games but still playing decent football, there’s always a sense that there’s just a spark missing and things will turn out OK. Maybe it’s the pre-match routine that needs freshening up, maybe do something different in training or the warm-up. If, like Town, you lose games and play horrible football, fail to respect possession and resort to the hoof, it’s difficult to see how the ship can be righted. Had Town continued in the vein they’ve been in of late, they were going back down from whence they came and the chairman has invested too much time and money into it to allow that to happen.
Grayson got the team promoted. The next step is establishing the club at Championship level. It was clear that wasn’t going to happen under Grayson and, once again, chairman Dean Hoyle has acted decisively and boldly. It can hardly be a coincidence that sought-after managerial talent is out there and available at the moment, something which may have sealed Grayson’s fate to an extent, but the next appointment needs to be made swiftly with time running out in this transfer window. The core of a squad is there, but other players need moving on just as much as new faces are needed to keep the team in the Championship.
Everyone’s hoping for Nigel Adkins. I confidently predict that if that happens, I won’t be having to write this article again in another twelve months time.