Gray successor search hit by takeover talks

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The Independent Football

The search for a new manager at Leeds United could be undermined by the latest takeover wrangle. For the fourth time in two years, Leeds are scouring the managerial market as Eddie Gray yesterday paid the price for relegation to the Football League with his job.

The Leeds chairman, Gerald Krasner, said there would be no rush into making an appointment. But there is a question mark as to whether Krasner or Steve Parkin will be making the decision as the haulage magnate is expected to declare his interest in taking over the club.

Since the summer of 2002, Leeds have dispensed with the services of David O'Leary, Terry Venables, Peter Reid and now Gray. Parkin is understood to favour the manager at Crystal Palace, Iain Dowie, whose season has been extended after guiding the club to the First Division play-offs. If Parkin is to have his own man in place, he will need to quickly make his intent known and push through a deal, particularly as the club are applying the pressure.

The finance director, Melvin Helme, has warned Parkin to make his move now, or risk missing out on crucial decisions. "Over the next two to three weeks there are a lot of decisions which will be taken," Helme said. "Nobody seriously interested in taking over would want another party making those decisions. If somebody wants to make those decisions themselves then they need to make a move as quickly as possible, otherwise we intend to make them."

That will include the appointment of a new manager, with the names of Gordon Strachan, Paul Jewell, Tony Pulis and Reid's head coach Kevin Blackwell - who will be in charge for the last game of the season at Chelsea - all linked with the post, as well as Dowie.

Almost a year after being appointed as head coach - initially to Reid - Blackwell now knows the inside track at Leeds and it is likely he would ask for certain conditions to be met should he be the man the board turn to to mount an immediate challenge for a return to the top flight.

It is clear, though, the year has been a tough one as he said: "I thought things would be kept the same until next week, but the decision has been made so I've got to get on with it. It has been a frustrating year for me."

Gray is to be retained on a consultancy basis for a year, although the role - which he starts on 1 June - is merely window dressing. But Gray, who has been player, manager, youth-team coach, reserve-team coach, assistant-manager and most recently caretaker manager, accepted the club's decision with dignity.

"I have had a great life with the football club and it's just sad that it has come to this, but that's life."