Javi Gracia keeping calm but admits he is suffering inside amid relegation scrap

Leeds head coach Javi Gracia has admitted he will “suffer a lot” during the club’s Premier League relegation battle.

Gracia was appointed last month to retain Leeds’ top-flight status after they had sacked Jesse Marsch and they have since slipped into the bottom three.

Gracia, who guided Watford to Premier League safety after taking charge there in similar circumstances in 2018, was considered a safe pair of hands.

His calm demeanour contrasts sharply with his more animated predecessor, but the 52-year-old Spaniard said: “I feel the stress inside and it’s the best way, the best thing I can do.

“The best way I can try and help my players is to try to give them confidence and give them the calm they need to play the best way.

“I won’t help them if I’m stressed or shouting a lot. I think it’s not my way.

“For sure, inside I suffer a lot, but I try to give my players what they need.

“In this moment, they need confidence and support because they are showing me every day their quality and commitment.”

Leeds dug deep in last week’s 2-2 home draw against Brighton, twice hitting back to salvage a valuable point, and play at relegation rivals Wolves on Saturday.

Gracia, who has collected four points from his first three league games in charge, currently lives in a hotel and is fully immersed in the survival battle.

“I don’t relax,” he said. “I live stressed! I don’t have time out of football.

“I live in the training ground, 12 hours here and the rest is for having dinner, to rest at the hotel. There’s no time for other things.

“I watch the games, the Premier League for example, both (Wednesday night’s) games and at night, I sleep. I speak with my family on the phone, that’s all.”

Just five points separate the bottom nine clubs and Gracia is prepared for the relegation fight to go down to the wire.

“We know it will be in a similar way until the end,” he added. “We have to be ready and focused in every game – trying to give our best. I’m sure we will be fighting until the end.

“When I came here three weeks ago, I knew the objective was to remain in the Premier League and I’m sure we can do that.”

Leeds will be without USA midfielder Tyler Adams (hamstring) at Molineux, but skipper Liam Cooper is in contention after knee and muscle injuries.