Leeds are on the lookout for a new manager having sacked Dave Hockaday after just 70 days in the hot seat. Hockaday's stint in charge looked ill-fated from the start, with his poor spell at Forest Green Rovers little reason to hand him the job at Elland Road. The final nail in his coffin was the shock 2-1 defeat to local rivals Bradford City in the Capital One Cup, and Hockaday left with just two wins from six games.
New owner Massimo Cellino has already failed the success-starved Leeds fans once with the Hockaday fiasco, and now it seems that he will now go down one of two routes when it comes to finding his new manager; appoint an Italian coach that he's familiar with, or appoint someone that the fans want.
The man that most of the supporters are hoping to see in the dugout – again – is Simon Grayson. The 44-year-old managed Leeds between 2008 and 2012, guiding the club from League One back to the Championship after getting Blackpool promoted to the same division. In fact, of permanent managers, Grayson is only behind Don Revie, Gary McAllister and David O'Leary in win percentages of Leeds managers with 49.7%.
It's therefore no surprise that Leeds want Grayson to return as he led the club to a seventh place finish in their first season back in the second tier, but he was harshly sacked with the club in 10th place in January 2012. After leaving Elland Road, Grayson moved on to Huddersfield where he instantly achieved promotion to the Championship, but was sacked midway through the next season after poor results.
Again, it wasn't long before Grayson was back in football, as he made the somewhat controversial move to become Preston manager despite having been a player and manager of North End's biggest rivals, Blackpool. A top six finish in his first full season in charge saw Preston make the playoffs, but given their record as the worst playoff team in English football history, it was no shock to see them lose to eventual winners Rotherham.
Grayson is looking to mount another push for promotion this season, but speculation over the weekend suggested that Grayson was a top target for Cellino as fans sang for his return against Bradford – but he revealed that not only has there been no approach, but he's also happy at Deepdale.
"Everybody knows about my affiliation with Leeds and I enjoyed my time there, but I am happy at Preston," said Grayson. "Preston can’t do enough for me at this moment in time. They give me the opportunity to do what we are doing; we have got a good squad together and I have a real desire to get this team to the next level."
"The reports about Leeds are wide of the mark. People are going to speculate and put two and two together, but the club have had no approach, I’ve had no approach and that’s the end of the matter."
Grayson's return to Elland Road may be what the fans want, but the former Leicester, Blackburn and Aston Villa defender is right to stay with Preston. The club had a strong campaign last season and will be aiming for automatic promotion this time around, with owner Trevor Hemmings backing Grayson more than any of the managers in the club's recent history.
New signings have been added in Jamie Jones, Calum Woods, Kyel Reid, Andrew Little and Jordan Hugill, whilst the club gave Grayson the biggest boost yet by extending Joe Garner's contract, with the talismanic striker agreeing to stay until 2016.
Grayson is secure at Deepdale and has the chance to build something - whereas a move to Leeds would surely be too much of a risk given that the two clubs could be in the same division next season. Owner Cellino is known for sacking managers during his time in Italy, and leaving a stable position for the chaotic situation at Elland Road would be foolish.
It may be difficult for Grayson to so no to his boyhood club if they did come calling, but Grayson must look at the bigger picture and realise that a turbulent time at Leeds could end the same way as his first spell at the club - which will severely damage his managerial reputation.