Javi Gracia takes the managerial reins at Leeds United

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The 52-year-old Spaniard, who led the Hornets to the 2019 FA Cup final, has signed what Leeds described as a "flexible" contract to replace Marsch, who was sacked just over two weeks ago. Gracia, who has managed 12 clubs in a little over 16 years, became Leeds' 13th head coach in less than 10 years. Leeds slipped into the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season after Saturday's defeat at Everton and face bottom club Southampton in Gracia's first game in charge at Elland Road on Saturday. Marsch was sacked earlier this month after a defeat at Nottingham Forest, with under-21s manager Michael Skubala placed in interim charge for the last three games. Gracia has been out of work since leaving Al Sadd in June, but did well in his previous spell in England, taking the Hornets to the 2019 FA Cup final and securing an 11th-placed finish in the league before being sacked just four games into the following season. He had previously won promotion to the Spanish top flight with Almeria in 2013 and, after a brief spell at Osasuna, led unfashionable Malaga to consecutive top-10 LaLiga finishes. After a stint in Russia with Rubin Kazan, he replaced Marco Silva at Watford in January 2018 and most recently retained the Qatar Stars League title with Al Sadd, having succeeded Xavi as head coach in 2021. His appointment ends a lengthy search for Marsch's replacement, with the club having been linked with Andoni Iraola, Arne Slot and Alfred Schreuder. A club statement read: "Leeds United are delighted to announce the club have agreed terms with Javi Gracia to become men's first-team head coach, subject to obtaining a work permit. "The experienced 52-year-old has agreed a flexible contract at Elland Road. "The club hope Gracia's first game in charge of the Whites will be Saturday's Premier League clash against Southampton at Elland Road, subject to obtaining the necessary work permissions."

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