Leeds: Phil Hay believes Orta may have stumbled on a good coach in Javi Gracia
Phil Hay believes Leeds United have managed to find themselves a decent manager in Javi Gracia until the end of the season.
The Lowdown: Gracia is a steady pair of hands
After a prolonged search for Jesse Marsch’s successor, Leeds and Victor Orta opted to hand out-of-work boss Gracia a flexible contract which means they don’t need to make any long-term commitment.
However, it was clear that he wasn’t actually their first choice which may not fill Leeds fans with a whole load of confidence, but he does at least come with 56 games of Premier League experience under his belt.
Gracia will be handed a baptism of fire this weekend as he welcomes Southampton – who are a fellow relation candidate – to Elland Road so he knows he simply must win his first game in charge.
The Latest: Orta may have made a smart decision
While Gracia wasn’t the club’s first choice, Hay has spoken to people about the Spaniard and admitted on The Phil Hay Show that Leeds may have almost by accident, made a solid appointment.
He said: (7:30) “I actually feel with Gracia – and this is based on speaking to people who know a lot about him from his time at Watford – I actually think they’ve fallen on a pretty good coach.
“Somebody with decent ability, ideas and decent potential. In no way am I going to stick my head out and say that it’s going to work because it’s so late in the season but I think this is actually, given what’s out there and what they could’ve done, I think it’s actually quite a good appointment.”
The Verdict: Leeds have given themselves a fighting chance
Under Michael Skubala it looked as though Leeds were heading only one way and that was into the Championship because while they put up fighting displays against Manchester United, in the game that really mattered away to Everton, they failed to lay a glove on the Toffees managing an XG of just 0.4 and as a team, managed just five carries into the opposition’s penalty area (FBRef).
Therefore, recruiting someone that’s been there and done it in the Premier League in the form of Gracia was a smart move from Orta, but one that he probably didn’t plan to have to make a few weeks ago.
Judging by the managers that were linked with the Leeds job, Arne Slot and Andoni Iraola, it appears as though Orta would have preferred to recruit someone with no Premier League experience and didn’t place that quality very highly on his list of priorities in a new boss.