Football: Graham makes vow to emulate Ferguson

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The Independent Online
George Graham yesterday spelled out his mission to turn Leeds into Premiership winners quicker than Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Ferguson took more than three years and a lot of flak before finally delivering his first piece of silverware - the FA Cup - and it took him almost seven years to capture the League title the Old Trafford faithful had craved since the days of Sir Matt Busby in the 1960s.

Now, exactly a year after taking over the Elland Road hot-seat following the sacking of Howard Wilkinson, Graham is hoping for a rapid change in Leeds' wavering fortunes.

A promising start has been rapidly undone with a hat-trick of defeats, although Graham has the backing of the Caspian board to carry on with his spending spree in a bid to turn Leeds into title contenders again.

Graham has spent just under pounds 10m on nine players during his 12 months in charge and yesterday promised the Leeds fans he will get it right and deliver the success they deserve.

He said: "The most successful manager in Britain over the last two decades, Alex Ferguson, took three years to get it right. That was with players coming in and players going out, named players, big reputations. I hope it doesn't take me three years. Whether I get that or not I don't know. I only know I will work as hard as I can."

Graham added: "I have brought in nine players and, with some kids coming through on the verge of the first team, the combination of them both means it's going to take time.

"I would like it to happen today, the fans would like it to happen today, but I've been in this game long enough to realise there's not going to be automatic success. It takes time.

"You've got to go through some painful experiences and some criticisms, but I can assure the fans there are a lot of positive things going on and I think it will eventually happen."

The Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale has vowed the club will do everything in its power "to deliver the funds he needs" to ensure Leeds can follow up their title success of 1992 sooner rather than later.

Graham admits he is still scouring the transfer market, adding: "I am continually looking. I've got to make sure the players that come in are the quality type of player that I'm after.

"I think in the past we have signed named players, but in my opinion they were probably just a short term fix. I'm looking for players that would come in and be proud to wear the Leeds United shirt, rather than just for the financial rewards."

The 52-year-old Scot's immediate goal is a place in the top six this season and qualification for Europe.

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