Javi Garcia is the favourite to take over as the new Leeds United manager

Javi Gracia is an option to become the next Leeds head coach along with Rafa Benitez
Javi Garcia looks like the favourite to take over the vacant Leeds job

(Football news) Former Watford manager Javi Gracia has emerged as the favourite for Leeds United head coach’s job ahead of the West Yorkshire club’s relegation six-pointer clash against Southampton this weekend. Leeds are renewing their search for a more proven manager after a disappointing 1-0 defeat by Everton on Saturday which increased the pressure on them to name a permanent replacement for Jesse Marsch.

Leeds Under-21s coach Michael Skubala has been given the caretaker position for the past three matches following Marsch’s sacking on February 6 but a poor performance at Goodison Park left Leeds languishing in 19th place in the Premier League, two points from safety. Skubala was in the dug-out after Leeds failed with approaches for Rayo Vallecano’s Andoni Iraola and Feyenoords Arne Slot. Ex-Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder was very close to becoming the boss until the end of the season but it was abandoned amid a fierce online backlash to the idea.

A defeat to Southampton would mean Leeds will be at the foot of the table. Gracia, who previously managed Watford in 2018 and 2019, is available having been out of work since his last job with Al Sadd in Qatar. He has managed the likes of Valencia, Malaga and Rubin Kazan in his managerial career. He was recruited by Watford to lead a successful fight against relegation from the Premier League in the 2017-18 campaign but was sacked the following year after just four games into the 2019-20 season as Watford took one point from their four matches.

Neither Leeds nor Gracia responded to the rumours but the club looks set to push for the permanent appointment of a new head coach before next weekend’s crucial match against Southampton. Leeds announced last Tuesday that Skubala and his team of Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas would take charge of “upcoming fixtures” but their Premier League status is in serious jeopardy with only 15 games to go and Southampton due at Elland Road this Saturday, it has become an utmost necessity for the Leeds ownership to name a new head coach.

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