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Leeds United hire Javi Gracia as their new manager

Leeds United have confirmed the appointment of Javi Gracia as their manager following Jesse Marsch’s dismissal.

Gracia has signed a flexible contract with the club with the sole duty of helping the club avoid relegation this season.

Leeds are second-bottom in the Premier League with no wins in their last ten games. Gracia must produce a miracle to keep the club in the top flight.

The 52-year-old left Qatari club Al-Sadd last year after winning the Stars League and has not coached since. He had replaced Xavi Hernandez, who joined Barcelona.

Gracia has previous Premier League experience after managing Watford during the 2018/19 season.

He impressively guided them to safety and the FA Cup final, which they lost to Manchester City. It was only the second FA Cup final in Watford’s history.

However, the Hornets sacked him the following season after he failed to win his first four matches. He left them bottom of the table with only one point.

The Spaniard averaged 1.18 points per game as a top-flight manager for Watford, the second-highest rate by any Hornets boss in the competition. It is also higher than Marsch averaged before leaving Leeds (1.08).

Gracia was not the club’s first choice to replace Marsch. They wanted Carlos Corberan, but he signed a new deal with West Bromwich Albion.

Fans rallied against the appointment of former Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder while veteran Rafa Benitez showed unreciprocated interest in the job.

Andoni Iraola and Arne Slot also turned down the Leeds job before they hired Gracia.

Leeds will hope to have Gracia in the dugout to welcome fellow relegation strugglers Southampton this weekend.

The Saints will be riding high on confidence following their 1-0 win over Chelsea last weekend. Both sides will hope they can win this relegation six-pointer.

Ironically, Southampton wanted to hire Marsch only a week after Leeds dismissed him, but they could not agree a deal.

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