Leeds blocked in Grayson pursuit

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The Independent Football

Blackpool have refused Leeds permission to speak to their manager Simon Grayson about the vacancy at Elland Road.

Leeds sacked Gary McAllister yesterday after a fourth straight league defeat and have targeted Grayson as the man to steer them back into the Coca-Cola Championship.

But a Blackpool statement read: "Following widespread media speculation surrounding Leeds United's interest in Simon Grayson, the club can confirm Leeds United have approached the club in respect of its manager and the approach to speak to Simon and or his representatives has been firmly rejected.

"The club will be making no further comment at this stage."

McAllister was appointed as Dennis Wise's successor at Elland Road in January, but paid the price for a miserable sequence of results which saw them knocked out of the FA Cup at non-league Histon and slide out of the top six in League One.

Grayson succeeded Colin Hendry as manager at Bloomfield Road in November 2005 and led them to promotion to the Championship via the play-offs in his first full season in charge.

Leeds legend Eddie Gray, meanwhile, believes the Histon reverse was the beginning of the end for former manager McAllister.

Gray told PA Sport: "The one result that made it difficult for Gary was the one at Histon.

"That made life very awkward and although he is a talented manager it is more and more these days about getting results and getting them quickly.

"I think after that game he might have seen it coming himself."

Former Leeds and Scotland midfielder McAllister was given a mandate by chairman Ken Bates to deliver promotion this season following the club's play-off final heartache at Wembley in May.

Whoever succeeds McAllister will become the ninth manager at Elland Road in the last 10 years.

Gray, who spent his entire playing career at Leeds and had two spells in charge, added: "It's still a great job. I don't think there's any worries about filling the vacancy.

"There will be a lot of people wanting the job, but I feel sorry for Gary, he's put a lot into it.

"But he was told to work to a deadline and he knows it's a results business."

Leeds' porous defence had been subject to increasing criticism in recent weeks, but Gray refused to pin the blame on the club's defenders.

He said: "It's not just the defenders. You've to look at the team as a whole unit. They've had a lot of decent possession in recent matches and not done a lot with it.

"They've not been defending set-pieces well at all for a long while now, but all the players have to hold their hands up."

McAllister had always stressed he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Swansea and Doncaster and play his way out of League One and Gray sees no reason to change.

He said: "Of course you can play your way out. You can play your way out of any league. But we'll have to wait and see how the new manager sees it."

In addition to Grayson, former Leeds coach and Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd and ex-Motherwell and Preston boss Billy Davies have been linked to the post.

Gus Poyet, number two to Wise at Elland Road before departing for Tottenham in October 2007, could also be in the frame.