'Terrible' - Leeds United warning and mystery but why new face can be saviour: David Prutton

I don’t think Javi Gracia was a name that many people were discussing to be Leeds United’s next head coach although I’m not saying his appointment has come out of left field.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

But we have seen him work in England before at Watford and the success he had and the way that he was fired and all of that ticks a lot of Watford boxes with regards to how that club is run.

First and foremost, Gracia knows English football and he knows how to keep a team in the Premier League that isn’t part of the furniture of the Premier League. I’m not saying you have got to be a good guy or well liked to be successful but from what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, there are not many former players of his or fans that have seen his teams play that have come out and said bad things. It sounds like there’s a lot of positivity about it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jesse Marsch did a wonderful job keeping Leeds United up. But there was that skepticism about him coming in and what he had or hadn’t done in English football. But unless I am misreading the mood then I think there is a broad appreciation and positivity about Gracia’s appointment. Excitement is probably not the word because excitement is a strange dynamic in football but I think broadly it’s a positive appointment.

EXPERIENCE: Of Premier League survival for new Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia, above, pictured after his Watford side's 2-1 victory at home to Newcastle United of May 2018. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images.EXPERIENCE: Of Premier League survival for new Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia, above, pictured after his Watford side's 2-1 victory at home to Newcastle United of May 2018. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images.
EXPERIENCE: Of Premier League survival for new Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia, above, pictured after his Watford side's 2-1 victory at home to Newcastle United of May 2018. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images.

If you are looking at a list of who was desirable for the job and how Leeds went about it, then for a huge football club and business like Leeds have no succession plan, I can’t really understand that. But nor do I understand the intricacies of football finance and management availability and how you move managers between clubs.

The intricacies of what their contracts are, what release clauses are, whether a manager wants to buy himself out of something, whether there’s that motivation to upset the applecart that they’re currently sitting in to get a move is very different for each manager, as it is for different players.

In a perfect world, Jesse would have got binned and someone else would have been coming up the drive but fingers are pointed at football clubs for being too rash when that happens and being brutal. But Leeds have got a man in charge now who by luck or by design, by coincidence or by a feat of timing has Premier League experience and has the ability that we’ve seen with a team that is greater than the sum of its parts – ie that Watford side – to be competitive in the Premier League.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Let’s not let Leeds United get ahead of themselves. That’s what they are, a team greater than the sum of its parts that needs to be competitive between now and the end of the season and be out of the bottom three come the final whistle of the final game of the season.

The fact that Leeds and Gracia have had to wait for a work permit is not ideal and a few years back it would have been very straightforward. I understand the possible frustrations but quite frankly they are the rules and football shouldn’t have any special dispensation because of a position that a football club finds itself in but at least the work permit finally came through yesterday morning. Hopefully he will be forewarned and forearmed and heavily educated with regards to what the club, the players need and the team needs going forward.

Leeds were terrible in last weekend’s defeat at Everton and keeping them up is a mountainous task. But it’s one that can be done as Leeds are two points from safety with Wolves, Everton and Bournemouth just above them and West Ham in the bottom three with them. Today’s game against Southampton is quite simply ginormous and Southampton showed the quality and fight that was severely lacking under Nathan Jones to win at Chelsea last weekend.

West Ham look quite timid, you’ve got to fear for Bournemouth having bounced between the two divisions and then you can work your way up to Forest and possibly Palace. The teams up to about Wolves and Leicester are all in touching distance and there’s plenty of games left to make sure that staying up is doable between now and the end of the season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Javi took over at Watford when they weren’t in a great position although they weren’t in the bottom three. They also had more games left. But he will understand the magnitude and the size of it. Leeds played well away at Man U and for most of the game at home to Man U albeit without being clinical enough. But anything like the Everton rubbish and they are in serious trouble and I think it will be a great test of nerve, character, skill and fortitude against Southampton.

They’ve appointed Ruben Selles until the end of the season now so there’s a pleasing sense of continuity there that they have got that sorted relatively quickly so it will be nothing other than tough. But I still think Leeds can stay up because nobody is cut adrift down there at all and they have all made changes with their head coaches and have enough time to get out of trouble.

The proof is in the pudding for that but you can’t really offer any solace. You just know it’s going to be nails bitten down to the knuckle and every single week and few days that Leeds are playing is going to be a test of nerve and not just for the players on the pitch but everyone that loves and adores that football club.