In a move as shocking as a V8 engine in a Smart car, Leeds United have given Javi Gracia the boot and hired none other than Big Sam Allardyce to steer the ship for the remainder of the season.
After just two months at the helm, poor Gracia was given the old heave-ho, making way for our very own former England gaffer, Mr Allardyce. Victor Orta, the Director of Football who’d been around since 2017, has also left the club in a “mutual consent” sort of way.
Leeds announced on Wednesday, “Leeds United can confirm Javi Gracia will leave the club, with our remaining four games overseen by experienced head coach Sam Allardyce.” Adding, “We thank Javi and his team for their efforts under difficult circumstances.”
Gracia’s tenure was hardly a smooth ride, taking over with Leeds teetering precariously in the Premier League relegation zone. With a burst of energy akin to a turbo boost, he won three out of his first six games, lifting Leeds to the dizzying heights of 13th.
But alas, the wheels came off. A crushing 5-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace and a 6-1 drubbing by Liverpool at Elland Road sent them tumbling back down to 17th place.
Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth sealed Gracia’s fate, having won only three of the 11 games he managed.
Now, Leeds face the daunting challenge of Manchester City, with four of their last five games ending in defeat. The road ahead looks bumpy, featuring home games against Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, and a jaunt to West Ham.
Big Sam, the seasoned manager who has driven clubs like Bolton, West Ham, and Everton, found himself without a job after leaving West Bromwich Albion upon their relegation from the Premier League in 2020/21.
His 67-day tenure as England manager ended in a scandal that rivalled a Jeremy Clarkson punch-up with a producer.
Upon the departure of Victor Orta, Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani lamented, “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.”
Leeds’ chief executive Angus Kinnear added, “Victor’s passion and energy to ‘make Leeds great again’ has been unmatched and we owe him a lot. Despite our current challenges, he leaves a legacy in a revolutionised football operation and a pipeline of young talent that will perform for Leeds for many years to come. From a personal perspective, he has been a great friend.”
So, in a twist more unexpected than a caravan holiday without rain, it’s now up to Big Sam to prevent Leeds from sinking faster than a supercar in a muddy field. Godspeed, Sam, you’ll need it!