Leeds confirm Javi Gracia as new manager before crunch game with Southampton

Javi Gracia has been named as new Leeds boss  (PA)
Javi Gracia has been named as new Leeds boss (PA)

Leeds United have appointed former Watford boss Javi Gracia as their new manager.

Gracia replaces Jesse Marsch after a turbulent search that saw the Premier League club miss out on several of their top targets, and will be in charge for the key meeting with fellow strugglers Southampton this weekend.

Leeds are 19th in the Premier League table and without a win in 10 matches.

Defeat in the weekend’s relegation six-pointer with Everton saw the club fall into the bottom three and Gracia will now be tasked with keeping the Elland Road club up over the final 15 games of the campaign.

Leeds announced the news in a statement on their official website, saying: “Leeds United is delighted to announce Javi Gracia’s visa has been confirmed, along with a number of new additions to the existing backroom staff.”

Earlier in the week the club had said that “the experienced 52-year-old has agreed a flexible contract at Elland Road”.

The Spaniard was in charge of Watford between January 2018 and September 2019. During that time he led the Hornets to safety and reached the FA Cup final but was sacked following a poor start to the following season. He has since taken jobs at Valencia and Qatari club Al Sadd.

Javi Gracia is the new Leeds manager (PA)
Javi Gracia is the new Leeds manager (PA)

Under-21s boss Michael Skubala had been placed in temporary charge at Elland Road, overseeing two Premier League games in the space of five days against Manchester United – a 2-2 draw and a 2-0 home defeat – and a 1-0 loss at Everton.

Leeds’ 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 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 winless in their previous 10 league matches. Their last top-flight victory was on 5 November and they will go bottom if they lose to Southampton this weekend.