Leeds United have sacked Javi Gracia after just 71 days in charge of the first team, following a poor run of results which leave the club just one place above the relegation zone. Sam Allardyce has been hired as head coach for the remainder of the campaign.
Sporting director Victor Orta was also dismissed a day earlier, the club labelling his departure “mutual consent” as they seek a “change of direction”.
With just one point claimed in their last five Premier League matches, Leeds are only out of the bottom three on goal difference heading into a weekend clash away to Manchester City, one of only four matches remaining this season.
It marks a chaotic chapter in the club’s recent history, with their first campaign back in the top flight ending in a ninth-place finish under Marcelo Bielsa in 2020/21 – but the popular manager was sacked last year after an awful spell and Jesse Marsch appointed. The American kept Leeds up by three points and one place in the end, but he was in turn dismissed on 6 February this year with the club at the time in the exact same position they are now: 17th and out of the drop zone on goal difference – but also with a game in hand.
Gracia won his first match in charge two weeks later against Southampton, with positive results against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest earned soon after, but just four points taken from a possible 21 since the start of April left Gracia’s impact minimalised and time running out. A statement from the club thanked the Spanish boss and his coaches “for their efforts under difficult circumstances”.
With 18 goals conceded in the last five matches alone, Leeds look in freefall as they head to the league leaders, with their final three fixtures home to Newcastle, away to West Ham and home to Tottenham in a tough-looking end to the campaign.
Orta ultimately also paid the price for a succession of questionable transfers which failed to have the desired impact, as well as two coaching appointments which fell short of expectations.
A statement from owner Andrea Radrizzani said: “I am deeply saddened by the way that this chapter closes as Victor has been responsible for some of the best moments of my time as owner of Leeds United and I thank him and his people for all they have done in the past six years.
“However, it is clear that it is time to change direction and therefore we have agreed that Victor will leave the club. I understand supporters are hurt and upset, but now is a time for unity. We have four cup finals left to play this season and working together, I believe we can survive.”
Former Oxford boss Karl Robinson will be Allardyce’s assistant, in what is the former England boss’ first job since leaving West Brom two years ago.
In a five-team tussle to beat the drop, Leicester and Forest are both at the same 30-point mark as Leeds, with Everton one further back. Southampton are at the foot, on 24 points, with all five teams having four to play.