Leeds United appoint former Watford manager Javi Gracia to replace Jesse Marsch

Spaniard, 52, has signed a 'flexible contract' with the Premier League strugglers, who face a battle to avoid relegation

Javi Gracia during his last managerial spell in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd. AFP
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Leeds United have appointed former Watford manager Javi Gracia as Jesse Marsch's replacement.

Gracia, 52, has signed a “flexible contract” with the Premier League strugglers as the Yorkshire club attempts to stave off relegation.

A club statement read: “Leeds United are delighted to announce the club have agreed terms with Javi Gracia to become men’s first-team head coach, subject to obtaining a work permit.

“The experienced 52-year-old has agreed a flexible contract at Elland Road.”

The Spaniard has been out of work since leaving Qatari side Al Sadd last June having guided them to a domestic league title.

Gracia did well in his previous spell in England, taking the Hornets to the 2019 FA Cup final and securing an 11th-placed finish in the league before being sacked just four games into the following season.

Leeds’s hunt for Marsch’s replacement had met with several setbacks. Talks with former Ajax manager 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 Bromwich Albion, while it was reported in Argentina that former River Plate coach Marcel Gallardo ruled himself out of the running.

Marsch was sacked earlier this month after less than a year in charge at Elland Road following a run of poor results.

A 1-0 defeat to Everton last time out saw Leeds slip into the Premier League's bottom three for the first time this season.

The Yorkshiremen hope to have Gracia in the dugout for their crunch relegation clash against Southampton this weekend. Leeds will go bottom if they lose.

Updated: February 22, 2023, 6:28 AM