Leeds United have sacked manager Javi Gracia and appointed former England boss Sam Allardyce in a bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Spaniard Gracia, appointed in February, has been dismissed after just 10 weeks and 12 games in charge at Elland Road.
Allardyce, 68, is tasked with guiding 17th-placed Leeds, who are out of the bottom three only on goal difference, to safety with four games remaining.
His first game in charge is against Manchester City on Saturday.
Allardyce – who will be assisted by former MK Dons, Charlton and Oxford United manager Karl Robinson – told the media it “took him two seconds to say yes” to the job.
“I was shocked. I never thought at this stage of the season [this would happen]. I thought there would be no jobs,” he said.
He added: “I could have done with more time, but we’ve got four games and hopefully I can keep this fabulous club in the Premier League.”
Director of football Victor Orta left the club by mutual consent on Tuesday having been in disagreement with the board over Gracia’s position.
Gracia was appointed on a “flexible contract” on 21 February – two weeks after the dismissal of former boss Jesse Marsch, who was sacked less than a year after replacing Marcelo Bielsa.
The 53-year-old Gracia’s final match in charge was Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth.
It was the club’s latest heavy defeat under the former Watford boss, following 6-1, 5-1 and 4-1 thrashings by Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Arsenal respectively last month.
It also meant the Whites’ winless run extended to a fifth match – including four losses – since a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest on 4 April. In a statement, Gracia said he was “grateful for the opportunity” and “proud of the team” after a “very intense period”.
“I am confident the team will achieve its objective. It is a committed squad full of quality,” he said. Gracia also paid tribute to Orta, describing him as “honest, sincere and committed to the club”.
Gracia, who led Watford to the FA Cup final in 2019 before spells at Valencia and Qatari side Al Sadd, won three of his 12 games in charge as Leeds manager.
In a promising start they kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Southampton in his first match at Elland Road but more recently they have been on the receiving end of a number of heavy losses.
Gracia’s dismissal takes the total of managerial changes in the Premier League to 15 for the season – five more than in any other previous campaign. Leeds are the fourth top-flight side to have sacked two managers this season.
Allardyce to do ‘all I can’
Allardyce has four games to guide the Yorkshire club to safety, however Leeds have arguably the most difficult run-in among their relegation rivals with Manchester City, Newcastle United, West Ham and Tottenham to come.
Having previously worked with Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear at West Ham, Allardyce becomes Leeds’ fourth manager this season, with Michael Skubala having been interim head coach prior to Gracia’s appointment.
Allardyce has been out of management since the end of the 2020-21 season when his West Brom side were relegated from the Premier League – the first top-flight relegation of his managerial career.
Speaking to Talksport about the “difficult games” ahead, Allardyce said: “We can only do what we can try and achieve, from my point of view, that is stopping the goals from going in.
“We’ve conceded 28 goals in the last 10 or 12 games and that has to stop if we’re going to get out of trouble. We’re needing to score three goals every game to win.
“If we’re left to do that, that will be impossible. I’m doing all I can with the staff to try and get the players out of trouble.”
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