Struggling Leeds name Javi Gracia as new manager

AFP , Tuesday 21 Feb 2023

Leeds on Tuesday announced the appointment of former Watford boss Javi Gracia as the new manager of the relegation-threatened Premier League club.

Sadd s Spanish coach Javi Gracia. AFP
Sadd s Spanish coach Javi Gracia. AFP

The Spaniard, who led the Hornets to the 2019 FA Cup final, has signed what Leeds described as a "flexible" contract to replace Jesse Marsch, who was sacked on February 6.

Leeds had been hoping to make a swift announcement, but missed out on several top targets.

"Leeds United are delighted to announce the club have agreed terms with Javi Gracia to become men's first team head coach, subject to obtaining a work permit," the club said in a statement.

"The experienced 52-year-old has agreed a flexible contract at Elland Road."

Leeds dismissed Marsch following a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

Under-21s manager Michael Skubala has been in interim charge since even though club owner Andrea Radrizzani initially promised a quick appointment.

They last won a match in the Premier League on November 5 and are 19th in the table, just one point above bottom club Southampton, whom they host on Saturday.

Gracia took Watford to the FA Cup final in 2019, which they lost 6-0 to Manchester City, but was sacked early the following season after a poor start to the Premier League campaign.

He has since managed Valencia and Al Saad in Qatar.

The hunt for Marsch's replacement had met with several setbacks. Talks with former Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder broke down, Rayo Vallecano blocked a move for Andoni Iraola and Arne Slot opted to stay at Feyenoord after he was approached.

Carlos Corberan, who previously worked under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds, signed a new contract with West Brom, while it was reported in Argentina that former River Plate boss Marcelo Gallardo ruled himself out of the running.

Leeds, two points from safety, are without a win in their past 10 league matches.

The club, who won the English top flight in 1992, were relegated from the Premier League in 2004 and did not return until 2020.

This is their second successive relegation battle, only preserving their elite status on the final day of the campaign last season.

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