Full name: Javier Gracia
Date of birth: May 1, 1970
Height: 6 ft 1
Place of birth: Pamplona, Spain
Leeds United appointed Javi Gracia as the club’s newest manager in February 2023 on a “flexible contract”, which was understood to be the initial commitment to the end of the season.
The 52-year-old Spaniard took over from Jesse Marsch, who was sacked in February 2023 – following a poor run of form which put Leeds in a relegation battle in the 2022/23 Premier League season.
Leeds United manager Javi Gracia’s past coaching career
He began his managerial career in 2007 with Pontevedra, a Spanish third-division club. He then moved to Cadiz CF, where he led the team to promotion to the Segunda Division.
Gracia’s next move was to Greece, where he managed Olympiacos Volou and later Kerkyra FC. He then returned to Spain to coach UD Almeria in the 2013-14 season. Despite the team’s relegation that season, Gracia’s impressive work earned him a job with Malaga CF in the following season.
At Malaga, Gracia had his most successful spell as a manager. He led the team to a 9th-place finish in La Liga in his first season, followed by an 8th-place finish in the next.
Malaga also made it to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League in the 2012-13 season under his guidance. However, his time with Malaga ended on a sour note as he was fired due to a disagreement with the club’s management.
In the summer of 2016, Gracia moved to Russia to manage Rubin Kazan. His time with the club was brief, lasting only six months, and ended with him being sacked due to poor results.
In January 2018, he was appointed as the manager of Premier League side Watford FC – replacing Marco Silva.At Watford, Gracia led the team to an impressive start, winning his first four games in charge.
He also helped the team reach the FA Cup final in the 2018-19 season, where they lost to Manchester City. Despite some inconsistency in the league, Gracia’s overall performance was praised, and he was awarded a new four-year contract in November 2018.
However, Gracia’s fortunes at Watford took a turn for the worse in the 2019-20 season. After a poor start to the season, he was sacked in September 2019 and replaced by Quique Sanchez Flores.
In July 2020, Gracia was appointed as the new head coach of Valencia CF, but like a broken record, he was again sacked after only four months in charge due to a poor run of results.
His final venture before arriving at Leeds was with the Qatari side, Al Sadd – where he replaced Xavi as he departed for Barcelona. However, this also didn’t work out for him and he was sacked after a run of poor form in 2022.
Gracia was appointed as Leeds United manager in February 2023 – following the sacking of Jesse Marsch.
Javi Gracia’s coaching career:
2007-2008: Pontevedra (Spain)
2008-2009: Cadiz CF (Spain)
2009-2010: Olympiacos Volou (Greece)
2010-2011: Kerkyra FC (Greece)
2012-2014: UD Almeria (Spain)
2014-2016: Malaga CF (Spain)
2016: Rubin Kazan (Russia)
2018-2019: Watford FC (England)
2020-2021: Valencia CF (Spain)
2021-2022: Al Sadd (Qatar)
2023 onwards: Leeds United (England)
Javi Gracia’s playing career
Javi Gracia’s playing career as a footballer was not particularly notable.
He played as a defensive midfielder and began his career with Athletic Bilbao, but he only made three first-team appearances for the club.
He then spent several seasons playing for various lower-league clubs in Spain, including Burgos, Linares, Pontevedra, and Cordoba – before retiring at the age of 32.
While he did not achieve great success as a player, Gracia’s experience on the field will have helped shape his tactical approach to coaching and his ability to communicate with players.
Javi Gracia at Leeds United
In Gracia’s short tenure at Leeds United thus far – it has been steady going.
He was brought in for one reason, to keep Leeds in the Premier League. Whether he accomplishes this remains to be seen, but at the moment he’s steadying the ship slowly and getting the best out of some key players.
His finest game has to be the 4-2 victory away at Wolves, where Leeds were rampant in front of goal.
Given his flexible contract – it remains to be seen how long Gracia will remain at Elland Road. Only time will tell.