Peter Reid's shoestring reconstruction of Leeds United claimed two high-profile victims yesterday when the assistant manager, Eddie Gray, and the coach, Brian Kidd, left the financially ravaged club a year before the end of their contracts.
Gray first came to Elland Road as a Glasgow schoolboy 40 years ago this summer, maturing as wide-left midfielder to share in the successes of the Don Revie era and eventually becoming manager. A decade after being sacked in 1985, he returned at coach at youth and then reserve level before David O'Leary made him his No 2.
O'Leary's appointment of Kidd, the one-time deputy to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United who joined Sven Goran Eriksson's England set-up earlier this year as the assistant manager, marginalised Gray despite his cult status with supporters. Sources close to Leeds claimed Gray and Kidd had little rapport. Now Reid has acted with the dual aim of securing back-room unity and reducing expenditure on salaries.
Leeds originally announced that the pair would work 12 months' notice, but terms were later reached for their immediate departure. In keeping with the club's circumstances – they are £79m in debt after the transfer excesses of Peter Ridsdale's time as chairman – Gray and Kidd will be paid a total of £1.2m in instalments.
Reid, who arrived as interim manager last month after the sacking of Terry Venables, gained the job full-time once Leeds averted the threat of relegation by winning at Arsenal. He described parting with the pair as "one of the worst aspects of being a manager".
"I've enjoyed working with Eddie and Brian," he said. "Nobody can doubt Eddie's status as a Leeds legend or Brian's proven record as a top coach. But I feel changes need to be made if the club are to progress the way I want."
The former Sunderland manager was asked by Ridsdale's successor, Professor John McKenzie, to review all "football areas" of the club with a view to cutting costs. McKenzie said: "Peter needs to bring in his own team to help him achieve the best results."
Gray's departure will sadden, if not surprise, Leeds' followers. His wave to the crowd after Sunday's final home fixture, against Aston Villa, had an air of finality about it and was greeted with an emotional roar, although that could not soften the impact of yesterday's announcement.
"I've only heard the news this morning and I'm very disappointed," Gray said. "I don't know what I'm going to do."
Kidd's exit will be less lamented by fans who never forgave his Old Trafford roots. As the wheels began to come off the Leeds bandwagon during 2001-02, they chanted for his exit during a match at Everton.
Adrian Heath, Reid's former Everton team-mate and assistant at Sunderland, is tipped to link up with him again. But the Leeds manager may cast his net wider, saying: "I intend to take my time over what I see as a vital decision."
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