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What will Javi Gracia bring to Leeds United?

Javi Gracia, 52, has put pen to paper on a ‘flexible’ contract at Elland Road that will see him carry out an enormous task of keeping Leeds United in the Premier League. But what can Leeds fans expect from the new Spaniard in charge?

After his spell at Watford, he became the Valencia manager but only lasted 10 months and was dismissed after a 3-2 home defeat to Barcelona, leaving Valencia in 14th place and with a 28.9% win ratio. Gracia then went on to win the Qatar Stars League in charge of Al Sadd SC , where he only spent seven months in charge.

In terms of style, Gracia will bring a new but more organised approach to Leeds United and one that the Leeds fans will hope starts picking them up more points. At Watford, Gracia was very successful using a variation of 4-4-2/ 4-2-2-2 which would sometimes delve into a narrow 4-3-1-2 depending on the opposition his side were facing. The full backs in this system offered most of the width, bombing forward at every given opportunity and adding them as attacking options to create more chances for the team. This tactical information could see him bring Kristensen back into the mix after he fell out of favour with Marsch and didn’t start for Skubala. Kristensen’s underlying attacking stats at RB Salzburg are a key reason as to why Victor Orta had his eyes on him, and he is one player to keep your eye on in the Javi Gracia reign at Leeds United.

Gracia doesn’t have the ‘high press’ style that we are so used to seeing a Leeds United side play with for the past years, but he prefers to bring a more organised approach and make his side more difficult to play against, compacting and suffocating the middle of the pitch. We often saw Doucoure and Capoue compact the midfield allowing Roberto Pereyra to have a free attacking role in the midfield offering support to the attackers going forward and I believe the tactical ideas of that Watford trio could definitely benefit Roca, Mckennie and Adams at Leeds and could see a lineup that sees all three of them midfielders start.

Watford fans have praised Gracia on his man management skills and how he has developed players. Watford fan @louorns said he developed Doucoure and Capoue into one of the best midfield partnerships outside the top six and also complemented his treatment of Spanish forward Gerard Deulofeu. Before Gracia came in Deulofeu was predominantly playing on the left hand side and having little impact going forward in games scoring just the one goal in the 2017/18 season but Gracia developed his role in the team and moved him more central playing off Troy Deeney, which saw him get 10 goals and 5 assists in the 2018/19 Premier League season and this tactical positional switch has seen him endure a successful three years in the Serie A with Udinese.

Former Watford Goalkeeper Ben Foster described him as a “Really good guy” and said “He’s calm, not a ranter and raver, and his players appreciate that.”

Ultimately, Leeds United fans can look forward to watching a team that will be defensively organised and with a calm and confident approach to every game. My three players to watch out for under Gracia are Mckennie, Kristensen and Gnonto.

What do you think?