Leeds United announce new manager Javi Gracia as Jesse Marsch replacement
The Spaniard, who was previously at Watford, Málaga and Valencia, has signed with the Yorkshire club on a ‘flexible contract’.
Premier League club Leeds United have announced 52-year-old Spaniard Javi Gracia as their new head coach, as the club looks to fight their way out of the relegation places. Leeds currently sit 19th in the league after a 1-0 loss to Everton saw Sean Dyche’s side leapfrog them and move out of the danger zone. American manager Jesse Marsch had taken charge of The Whites until he was sacked in February after an underwhelming season that never really got going but the search for a new head coach did not go to plan as sporting director Victor Orta has scrambled around Europe to find a replacement. The club have now settled on Gracia, who has been out of work since last year.
A 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest was the final nail in the coffin for Marsch, whose tenure at Leeds was defined, in his words, most of the time, by ‘stress’ and a lack of ‘clarity’. A lack of direction also seemed to float around the shipwreck the once imperious galleon of Bielsa had become; having lost both the wind and their sails by mid-February under Marsch, the board had no other option but to relieve him of his duties, initiating the frantic search for a new head coach with a budget life jacket, lights and whistles attracting vague attention from candidates who all said no.
Leeds rejected three times
They tried Andoni Iraola, whose Rayo side are playing like 11 bolts of lightning, as the name suggests, but despite initial interest, leaving a promising project half-complete is not something the manager was all too happy to do. Orta then travelled to the Netherlands to speak to Feyenoord manager, Arne Slot, about potentially joining Leeds, who gave the same response. Perhaps trying to tell managers to leave their 10 metre high Jenga towers before they’re complete to come and collect the big pile of blocks on the floor in rainy Leeds isn’t, in hindsight, the best option.
So Victor went to Marcelo Gallardo, one of River Plate’s most successful coaches in their history, but he did not want to take a job mid season. Are you seeing a theme, here, reader?
Skubes and the gang
Michael Skubala, when manager of the Loughborough University football team, signed his emails off as ‘Skubes’, which gives a great amount of potential headlines to news outlets over the world, especially since the former England Futsal coach been tasked with the caretaker job at Leeds alongside his gang of Chris Armas and Paco Gallardo for the “upcoming fixtures”. Leeds fans loved Skubes as he valiantly took on Manchester United twice in his temporary role as the search continued, first drawing 2-2 at Old Trafford before Marcus Rashford opened the scoring late on at Elland Road before Garnacho sealed the 3 points.
A new manager was set to be appointed after the match, with confirmed sightings of Alfred Schreuder at Elland Road and at the team hotel in the aftermath of the fixture. The sight of the ex-Ajax boss, who famously fell out with Daley Blind and lost the faith of the fanbase, sent the Leeds fans into disarray online, something which the club cvlearly took into account, as the manager was sent home on a plane the next day in the latest turn of the Premier League’s biggest shipwreck. Skubes continued, and then came the loss against Everton.
Gracias! It’s Gracia
Gracia, who managed Watford in 2018 and 2019, taking them to the FA Cup final, was available for work having been unemployed since his last job with Al Sadd. He was quickly called by the Leeds board after the disappointing loss to Everton and has signed a deal Leeds call a “flexible contract”, presumably until the end of the season with an option to extend. Gracia plans to bring in a backroom team from Spain, although Skubala will stay around the first team.
Gracia is a calm man, not someone who is likely to get involved with blaming referees or causing unnecessary stress to the players, and he will more than likely use a mixture of formations that best suits the talented squad that Leeds have. His experience and calming nature is much needed at Elland Road, as Leeds play Southampton at the weekend, who are bottom. A win for the Saints would see Javi Gracia’s new side end the weekend at the foot of the Premier League table. Hopefully for Leeds, Gracia can be the man to find the sails and lead Leeds in a new direction.
Premier League 2022/2023
|18West Ham United||20||5||5||13|
|Leeds United - Nottingham Forest||M-12/09 15:00|
*Data updated to date Feb 21st, 2023
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