Phil Hay has told his Athletic podcast that he feels new Leeds United manager Javi Gracia suits Marc Roca more so than Jesse Marsch did – with the Spaniard told to get on the ball and spray passes around in midfield, more often.
Roca, 26, returned to start against Brighton on Saturday in the 2-2 draw. It comes after the Spanish ace was an unused sub at Chelsea – his last start in the League; Marsch’s last game. He has had a season of ups and downs.
But with Tyler Adams now injured with a hamstring strain, Roca is expected to start alongside Weston McKennie on Saturday as Leeds travel south to take on Wolves. Leeds are playing in more of a pragmatic manner under Gracia.
Marsch’s football was chaotic, getting the ball forward as quickly as possible – much like Marcelo Bielsa’s style. But for Gracia, it is more about having control of the game. Possession, defensively sturdy. Hay says Gracia suits Roca.
“Looking at him at Espanyol, time and space to pick passes is exactly what he’s looking for. Perhaps in time, Gracia’s football will suit him more than Marsch’s did. I don’t feel he has had a poor season, but he’s not had a great season.
“He’s still trying to fit in, figuring out what he should be. There is a good footballer in there. His passing stats are impressive in progressing the ball up the pitch. You need to create a framework to let him play to his strengths.”
Hay: New Leeds manager Gracia suits Roca more so than Marsch did
Roca was good against Brighton. Arguably one of his better performances of the season. Leeds will need the ex-Bayern man to be right at the top of his game against Wolves this weekend – against a side boasting midfield gems.
Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Matheus Nunes and more. Wolves have a really-talented squad, but it must be remembered that Leeds did beat Wolves at Elland Road in the reverse fixture. We will have to be at our utter best.