Leeds nominate Sam Allardyce for relegation run-in, confirm Javi Gracia exit

Leeds United have confirmed the appointment of Sam Allardyce on a short-term deal for the remainder of the season, with Javi Gracia leaving as head coach.

Athleticism reported on Tuesday that Leeds had finalized terms with Allardyce, who were tasked with avoiding relegation with just four games remaining.

Leeds, who only got out of the drop zone on goal difference, opened talks with the 68-year-old on Monday after deciding to sack existing Gracia following Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Bournemouth.

Zigor Aranalde, Mikel Antia and Juan Solla, who joined Gracia, will also leave the club.

Joining as Allardyce’s assistant is former MK Dons, Charlton Athletic and Oxford United manager Karl Robinson.


Orta to Leeds: From Bielsa’s brilliance to Gracia – and full conviction all the way

A statement from Leeds read: “Leeds United can confirm that Javi Gracia will leave the club after 12 games in charge. We thank Javi and his team for their efforts in difficult circumstances.

“The remaining four games of the season will be overseen by experienced head coach Sam Allardyce.”

Allardyce’s most recent managerial role was with West Bromwich Albion from December 2020 to June 2021. He suffered his first ever relegation from the Premier League during his spell at The Hawthorns.

His first session is scheduled for Wednesday, before the trip to title-seeking Manchester City on Saturday.

Gracia was only appointed to Leeds in February but won just three league games, with the Spaniard himself being appointed following poor form which saw Jesse Marsch sacked.

A statement from Gracia read: “I am grateful for this opportunity and proud of the team, both the players and the coaching staff. This is how I would like to sum up my time at Leeds United. I would have preferred another time, but circumstances have changed.

“We arrived on a short contract of three months. And we did it because we believed in this team. We considered our chances and were confident. And we know it’s possible. We are not talking about miracles, but about the effective result of a job well done and a process of improvement.

“The coaching staff and I took over the team in 19th position, with a ten-game winless streak. Today, after eleven games played and four games remaining in the league, the team came out of the zone of relegation and has a good chance of reaching the goal.

“It has been a very intense time for many reasons. A busy schedule, injuries and a young but competent team. However, we managed to position ourselves better than our rivals and it shows in the results. Compared to our direct competitors and since our hiring, we are the team with the most points – eleven in total – compared to our main competitors. I am convinced that the team will achieve its goal. It is a committed team full of quality.

“I want to acknowledge the work of the fans. A fan base that supports you, encourages you and who I know will never give up. Best wishes to Leeds United for success.

Leeds also sacked director of football Victor Orta on Tuesday as they attempted a late reshuffle which he hopes will still preserve their Premier League status.

Leeds and Big Sam – an unlikely alliance that must work

Athletic’s Leeds correspondent Phil Hay:

“Just under two months ago, after Leeds sacked Jesse Marsch and set about trying to replace him, they were told Allardyce was interested, on the phone and ready to talk, as the are usually the coaches out of work.

“The invitation was politely declined because Leeds, at that time, were still trying to think medium to long term.

“But on Sunday night, as the realization dawned after a 4-1 loss to Bournemouth that the imploding results had shattered Gracia, the Leeds board did a rethink. They had four games left and, based on the evidence before them, they were rolling off a cliff. If Allardyce did, they could spin the wheel with him. And there and then, the image Leeds like to project of themselves – of being different, of being innovative, of being ahead of the game – bowed to one of the most stereotypical contingencies. of English football: Big Sam until the end of the season.

“What Leeds cling to are their perceived motivational powers, at a time of year when a kick in the ass is pretty much the only tool left in the box…”

Read more below about why Leeds turned to Big Sam.


Why Leeds finally accepted their grim reality and turned to ‘Big Sam’

Leeds remaining fixtures

(Photo: LUFC)

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