Ex-Watford boss Gracia appointed Leeds head coach until the end of the season

The 52-year-old, who replaces Jesse Marsch at Elland Road following the American's sacking on 6 February, guided the Hornets to an 11th-placed finish and an FA Cup final in his only full season at Vicarage Road.

By Alex Bowmer Published: 21 February 2023 - 6.22pm
Javi Gracia smiles before a game as Watford head coach

Javi Gracia has been named as Leeds' new head coach until the end of the season, subject to a work permit. 

The Spaniard replaces Jesse Marsch following the American's sacking earlier this month after a run of seven league games without a win, a streak which culminated in a 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest. 

Michael Skubala, the club's under-21s head coach, was placed in temporary charge in the wake of Marsch's dismissal.

However, he was unable to secure a victory in three top-flight matches as the Whites threw away a two-goal lead at Manchester United before falling to a 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture three days later and then coming out on the wrong side of a tense battle with fellow relegation candidates Everton. 

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £29.99 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.

Leeds currently sit 19th, two points adrift of safety, with Gracia set to be in the dugout for Saturday’s huge clash against Southampton at Elland Road.

The former defensive midfielder's only previous spell in England saw him take charge of Watford in January 2018 following the sacking of Marco Silva as the Spaniard kept the Hornets in the Premier League before guiding them to an impressive 11th-placed finish the following season in a campaign which also saw the Hertfordshire outfit reach the FA Cup final, where they were thrashed 6-0 by Manchester City.

However, after a poor start to the 2019-20 season, Gracia was dismissed, going on to take the helm of Valencia and Al Sadd, leading the latter to the Qatari top-flight title before leaving the club last June.

Gracia’s appointment comes after a frustrating search for Marsch's successor that has seen approaches for Rayo Vallecano manager Andoni Iraola, Feyenoord boss Arne Slot, ex-Ajax head coach Alfred Schreuder and West Brom's Carlos Corberan all rebuffed.