Phil Hay explains criteria Javi Gracia must meet for Leeds to ‘consider’ extending deal beyond this season
Leeds United journalist Phil Hay has explained the criteria that Whites boss Javi Gracia must meet if he wants to carry on in the job beyond this season.
Leeds haven’t had the best of luck over the past couple of seasons. Everything looked promising on their return to the top flight following a 16-year hiatus, but that promise soon faded.
Indeed, Marcelo Bielsa guided the West Yorkshire outfit to ninth in their first season back.
However, he was unable to inspire his players to continue in the same vein. In February of 2022, with the club in relegation danger, the Argentine was dismissed from his post.
Jesse Marsch managed to keep the Whites afloat, just, as they finished 17th last season. But they again suffered a poor run and found themselves toying with relegation, and a year after he was hired, Marsch was fired.
That’s led them to former Watford manager Gracia, who was brought in on a ‘flexible’ contract.
It was understood at the time that meant he would only be under contract until the end of the season.
Indeed, it makes sense that Leeds – one point from safety – might want to go in a different direction if they are relegated.
Hay details how Gracia can keep Leeds job
That seems to be the crux of their decision making process surrounding Gracia’s future. Indeed, Leeds journalist Hay has detailed what the manager needs to do to extend his role – unsurprisingly, it hinges on him keeping the club up.
“The initial stage of Gracia’s contract runs to the end of this season, with the obvious target of keeping Leeds in the Premier League. If he does that convincingly the club will consider extending his stay,” Hay told The Athletic.
“Gracia would also be minded to take an extension too. It was quite telling last week when he said that he didn’t want to be here simply because he had a contract — but if his tenure feels settled then I’d be surprised if the club were tempted to shake things up again.
“If Leeds are relegated then it’s going to be a summer of major change, let’s face it. All bets are off.”
It seems the decision from both sides will be made depending on how well Gracia does his job. If he keeps Leeds up by the skin of their teeth, both parties might see that as reason not to continue their relationship.
However, if he hauls them out of danger convincingly, it seems there’s much more chance of him staying on board.
Convincing job will be tough for Gracia
As the last two Leeds managers have found, it’s not easy to climb away from a relegation battle once you’re in it. While Gracia won his first game 1-0 – against bottom side Southampton – that’s not to say the rest of the campaign will be easy.
Everton are just a point behind the Whites in the last relegation place and they’ve had a couple of positive results of late.
Furthermore, West Ham – who occupy the spot above Leeds – thrashed 13th-placed Nottingham Forest 4-0 last week. That’s the sign of a side who are keen to haul themselves away from danger.
As such, Gracia could have a very tough task on his hands and even if he keeps Leeds up, it might not be enough.
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