A plan by Massimo Cellino to name Oscar Garcia as Leeds United’s new head coach looks set to be thwarted amid claims that Garcia will take charge of Championship rivals Watford this week.
Garcia is understood to have indicated a strong interest in the job at Elland Road but the sudden resignation of Giuseppe Sannino as Watford’s head coach last night appears to have turned the 41-year-old’s head.
Watford, like Leeds, have made contact with Garcia’s agent - Pere Guardiola, the brother of Bayern Munich boss Pep - and their Italian owners included him on a three-man shortlist for the vacancy at Vicarage Road.
Reports suggest that Garcia will make a decision on his future by Thursday and is likely to opt for the opportunity at Watford if the club make him an acceptable offer.
Watford are second in the Championship after a 4-2 win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday, a match which proved to be the last of Sannino’s difficult reign.
Garcia is available after leaving his job as coach of Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv last week, little over two months after moving to Israel.
The former Brighton boss cited the political tension in the Middle East as his reason for quitting Tel Aviv and is keen to make a quick return to coaching.
His signature is sought-after following Brighton’s run to the Championship play-offs under him last season and at least one team in Spain are said to be in touch with him.
Cellino made his own move for Garcia after sacking Hockaday on Thursday night.
The 58-year-old has also spoken to Steve Clarke, the former head coach of West Bromwich Albion, but Clarke was unlikely to rush into accepting the job at Elland Road.
Ex-Leeds boss Simon Grayson, meanwhile, was heavily linked with a return to United yesterday but sources at Elland Road gave a cool response to suggestions that Grayson was looking to leave Preston North End and reclaim his old job.