Simon Grayson outlines the next year for Huddersfield Town

IT’S no longer Lee Clark versus Graham Westley: The sequel.

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IT’S no longer Lee Clark versus Graham Westley: The sequel.

But Tuesday’s rematch between Town and Stevenage, which follows that stormy first-ever meeting between the sides at the Galpharm in October, remains intriguing.

It pits two of the Football League’s most recently appointed managers in Simon Grayson and Gary Smith against each other.

Last time Grayson managed in League I, back in 2009-10, Stevenage were playing Conference football.

Two seasons on, they are pushing for a third successive promotion – despite losing Westley, the man who led them out of both the Blue Square Premier and League II, to Preston.

Smith, the former Arsenal scout and Colorado Rapids manager, has quickly settled into his job at the Hertfordshire club, who booked a plum FA Cup fifth-round replay at Tottenham the Wednesday after next by holding the Premier League side goalless at Broadhall Way last Sunday.

Perhaps the after-effects were shown last Wednesday when Stevenage suffered a 1-0 loss to Notts County, themselves under new management in the shape of Keith Curle, in a Meadow Lane clash watched by new Town coaching duo Glynn Snodin and Ian Miller.

While Town tackle Exeter in Grayson’s first match at the helm today, the Galpharm club will be represented when Stevenage visit League I leaders Charlton as the manager gens up ahead of a busy run of games which could make or break the bid for automatic promotion.

"I’ve kept tabs on League I over the last couple of seasons through watching potential signings," explained Grayson at a relaxed press conference this week.

"But obviously while I was manager at Leeds, my main focus was the Championship, because that was the division we were in."

It’s also where he’s desperate to take Town, and the man who piloted both Blackpool and Leeds out of League I added: "As I keep saying, we have 16 games to finish the job.

"As I also keep saying, there’s not a great deal wrong here, and not that much to change around, because I have inherited a group who have confidence and who have produced good performances this season.

"It will probably be August, when I have had a pre-season to go at and have perhaps brought in one or two new faces, that you will see a true reflection of our methods.

"At this stage, with a nicely balanced squad, it’s more about tweaking things here and there and doing everything possible to pick up the points which will keep the pressure on the other sides in the mix."

In between watching DVDs of both Town and today’s visitors Exeter and talking to both the press and supporters, Grayson has been having a good look at the players at his disposal, with Peter Clarke and Tommy Miller, both of whom have undergone double-hernia surgery, the only ones unable to train fully.

"It’s been really enjoyable, and one thing I have pledged to the players is that they will all get a chance to stake a claim," added the Ripon-born 42-year-old.

"With five games in 15 days, starting against Exeter (today), I want as many options as possible.

"We still have some flexibility through loans, but I don’t anticipate any ins or outs over the next couple of weeks."

In the longer term, Grayson is looking forward to continuing Town’s forward movement under Dean Hoyle.

"The chairman is one of the main reasons I came to the club," said the man who left Leeds on February 1.

"Initially, I had no intentions of coming back into football so quickly, but he inspired me.

"You don’t get offered a three-and-a-half year contract unless the man concerned has a vision of where the club is going.

"Looking from the outside at the way he backed Lee Clark and the influence he has had since becoming chairman, it was a massive reason for me to come here. I think we will work really closely together."

 

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