11 February ~ It was always going to be a matter of when, not if, Simon Grayson got the bullet. So when he was sacked the morning after a 4-1 drubbing at home to Birmingham City, the only surprise was it had taken Leeds chairman Ken Bates so long to pull the trigger. Grayson had been a dead man walking since a December slump, in which the club lost three on the bounce, including an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the hands of local rivals Barnsley. As soon as news of the sacking broke, speculation mounted as to who would step into the Elland Road hot seat.
Neil Warnock is the bookies' favourite. Leeds fans love to hate Warnock thanks to his Bramall Lane connections. Given the fickleness of supporters, if he gets the club promoted through the play-offs they would no doubt quickly grow to love him.
Other names still in the frame include Billy Davies (hated for his on-pitch behaviour at Elland Road following a play-off semi-final game against Preston), Steve Bruce (hated because he played for Manchester United and is therefore "scum" in the eyes of many Leeds fans), Roberto di Matteo (his appointment would only antagonise the growing anti-Chelsea brigade at Elland Road) and Gus Poyet who brings his Brighton side to Elland Road this weekend. Despite his Chelsea connections, Poyet is still a fans' favourite, although rumour has it that Bates has never forgiven him for leaving his post as Dennis Wise's number two to join Juande Ramos at Spurs.
Appointing a young manager such as Lee Clark or Karl Robinson would be a bigger gamble for the club. Both are doing well in their current posts and they both play a refreshing brand of attractive football and could steer their clubs towards promotion. But would either manager be prepared to swap looming success to join a club with high expectations, very little money in the kitty and a young squad that is desperately crying out for the addition of a few experienced players?
Bates says he will not be rushed into a decision. For the next three games at least he has promised to give caretaker manager and Championship stalwart Neil Redfearn the chance to stake a claim for the post. After winning his first game in charge (albeit against nine men), a number of Leeds players have spoken glowingly about Redfearn's training and organisational skills.
He is not the big name many fans are crying out for, but with the club sitting just two points away from a play-off place, a victory against Brighton and two eminently winnable games against Doncaster and Coventry would quickly silence the doubters. It could make Bates's job much easier. Simon Creasey