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John Giles: Grayson has talent to lead Leeds back to top

THERE are many Leeds United fans out there who have waited a long time for a moment like they enjoyed at Old Trafford. Finally some light at the end of the tunnel.

Victory in the FA Cup against Manchester United highlighted two things: Leeds now have the type of momentum the club needs to build towards the Premier League and, best of all, the team underlined that point against bitter rivals showing definite signs of decline.

I think there are many fans out there that are almost afraid to celebrate too much, because of everything that has gone before, but I also think that Simon Grayson has a lot to do with the fact that everyone has their feet firmly planted on the ground and is not getting too carried away.

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He won't be tempted away from Leeds even if some of his players will – most notably Jermain Beckford. Bigger clubs will be eyeing Grayson closely but he's doing the job he was born to do and he is in it for the long haul.

Most clubs showing form in League One automatically attract attention from clubs further up the food chain but Leeds have a fanbase of 40,000-plus and that carries a great deal of weight.

It certainly did in the Cup game. It was great to see 8,000 travelling supporters at Old Trafford and as Leeds season progresses we'll see bigger and bigger crowds at Elland Road.

Only marginally less uplifting for Leeds’ fans than beating Manchester United will be the fact that the old enemy has major problems on the horizon.

I think it's fair to say that Grayson has far fewer problems to cope with than Alex Ferguson. I can't remember a time before when Ferguson was so critical of his players after a game and it's a sign of the pressure growing around him.

Since the end of last season, Ferguson has lost his top goalscorer, Ronaldo and his second-best option up front, Carlos Tevez. By the looks of things, Nemanja Vidic is on his way to Real Madrid and Edwin van der Sar has been out of action for one reason or another.

The spine of any team is the goalkeeper, the centre-backs, central midfield and the best striker you have. Ferguson is now missing several key components and clearly has big problems. The Vidic situation should be a source of great concern for Manchester United supporters.

To hear Ferguson say that he knew nothing about the current circumstances surrounding one of his best defenders, after Vidic withdrew from the game with Leeds, was odd in the extreme.

Normally, when a player falls foul of Ferguson, the push to leave Old Trafford comes from the manager's office. But Ronaldo changed all that.

When he first threw a strop and told the world he wanted to leave Manchester, Ferguson buried his instinct to cash in and ship him out. As a result, he had to endure a season of pouting and petulance before Ronaldo left during the summer and now he's paying the price with Vidic.

The word is that Vidic, who agreed a new deal with the club not so long ago, is looking for improved terms, leading to speculation that he is simply setting up a move. For me, the rumours about Vidic's wife being unhappy with Manchester were probably the most significant.

When I hear stuff like that, there's generally only one outcome. Losing Vidic would be a big blow. For me, he's a much more important player than Rio Ferdinand, but his departure for Madrid would be another telling and negative sign.

The Glazers appear to be struggling with financing and it will be very interesting to see how Ferguson reacts in the next few weeks. With so many injury problems, he might have considered a move in the market, but if Vidic goes then he will have to act.

In the medium term Ferguson must also address the fact that Dimitar Berbatov is an unmitigated failure and will not deliver some sort of return for his huge fee.

Wayne Rooney has risen to the task set for him and is well up there in the scoring table, but he needs help and neither Berbatov or Michael Owen have been supplying it. Ferguson is fortunate that every other team in the title race is struggling with consistency.

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But the map has changed very quickly. Just two or three months ago it looked like a straight fight between Manchester United and Chelsea for the title, but now Arsene Wenger has defied all the predictions and assessments and his team is definitely in the mix. In fact, when you compare his young players with Ferguson's and the comparative strength of the two squads overall, Arsenal look a lot healthier at the moment.


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