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Leeds United on the march with the wily Simon Grayson
Published : 23 Jan 2010 21:36:55Rss feed
Saturday was a famous draw, a result rooted in Leeds players' never-say-die attitude under Grayson, whose deployment of the outstanding Robert Snodgrass in the hole proved a tactical masterstroke. No wonder Leeds fans never stopped chanting. Grayson has got the whole club marching on together, his reputation as one of the game's most promising managers again enhanced by the Cup. Related ArticlesTottenham 2 Leeds United 2Leeds' promotion may secure BeckfordGrayson plots Leeds returnNewcastle will not pay over odds for BeckfordBates: manager to rule on BeckfordSport on televisionHaving masterminded the shock of the third round, the knockout blow landed on the distinguished chin of Manchester United, Grayson had once again set another Premier League side an unexpected challenge. 'Are you watching Manchester?'' chanted the 5,000 Leeds supporters, many of them stripped to the waist. Once again, Leeds' mood had been excellent, brimming with defiance and belief. Despite recent travails in League One, Grayson is proving a master at motivation, a trait seen in his successful time reviving Blackpool's fortunes. Leeds may be short of technique in certain areas, but they lack nothing in effort. The bandage around Patrick Kisnorbo's head is an emblem of their commitment to the cause. Their refusal to give up was another magical moment in this Cup season. From first minute to the last second of added time, Leeds gave everything. During the opening storm whipped up by Jermain Defoe, Kisnorbo and the rest of Grayson's players stood firm. The team spirit, the bond of togetherness that Grayson has in his dressing room, was clear in the way Kisnorbo threw himself in the way of a thunderous Defoe shot and then Snodgrass blocked a Niko Kranjcar strike. The hunger was unmistakable in the way Bradley Johnson snapped away at the cultured heels of Kranjcar, muscling the ball off the Croatian midfielder just after the half-hour mark. The determination of Grayson's players was exhibited in the reflexes of Casper Ankergren, who summoned up the ghost of Hull City's Boaz Myhill, haunting Spurs with a series of saves from Defoe's penalty and two Gareth Bale free-kicks. Talk about Casper the Unfriendly Ghost. Leeds' fans loved it, taunting Spurs with a chant of 'you're just a small town in Arsenal''. Once again, Grayson's tactics had been intelligent. Having relied on a 4-4-2 system to win at Old Trafford, Leeds manager used a 4-4-1-1 system here that confused Spurs. 'There's only one Simon Grayson,'' chorused the visiting hordes. Without taking his eyes off the game, Grayson gave them an appreciative wave. Leeds fans love the way that Grayson, a schoolboy fan, has given the club its respect back. Wembley may be a distant dream but the Championship isn't. Grayson is certainly not afraid of making big decisions, dropping Luciano Becchio and moving Snodgrass from the right flank and into the hole. Snodgrass, scheming in the no-man's land between midfield and attack, caused Spurs problems. After forcing Gomes into an athletic save, Snodgrass lifted the ball through to Beckford, who struck a powerful right-footed shot that Gomes parried. Spurs urgently needed somebody to cut the strings being so expertly pulled by Snodgrass. Redknapp's centre-halves, Michael Dawson and Sébastien Bassong, did not know whether to stick or twist, to stay close to Beckford or step out to stifle Snodgrass. Jermaine Jenas, the one slightly defensive player in Spurs midfield, did drop back but Snodgrass was influential all evening. Seven minutes in to the second period, the Scot was surrounded by three Spurs players but still won a vital corner, flicking the ball off Danny Rose. Snodgrass' curling corner, and painful hesitation in Spurs defence, allowed Beckford to equalise Peter Crouch's earlier effort. Redknapp had to solve the Snodgrass conundrum. Paying Grayson and Leeds a real compliment, the Spurs manager sent on that pedigree dog of war, Wilson Palacios, with instructions to deprive Snodgrass of room. After 62 minutes, Palacios was fortunate that Alan Wiley, the referee, ignored the midfielder's foul on Snodgrass. Clear penalty. Not given. Grayson, standing in the technical area, spotted the infringement, grimaced when Wiley waved play on but refused to moan, quickly rallying his players. Watching Grayson on the touchline, hearing him drive Leeds on, it is easy to understand why players loved playing for him, why Beckford has withdrawn his transfer request. Greater riches are on offer elsewhere, like at Everton, but Leeds are worth sticking with. They are clearly going places under Grayson which is why they could have sold out Saturday's allocation three times over, why local radio now streams commentaries on the web because of the global interest in Grayson's team. To seize the initiative back from Grayson, Redknapp sent on Roman Pavlyuchenko, who promptly scored, but there was late drama when Beckford swept in the equaliser from the spot. 'We're Leeds, and we're proud of you,'' sang the visitors. No wonder. Grayson has got Leeds on the march.
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