By George Overhill

9th Mar, 2023 | 8:40pm

Javi Gracia hands Victor Orta slap in face as Leeds United work for Chris Armas undone already

Javi Gracia’s public dismissal of Chris Armas in comments to the press has brought the difficulties for Victor Orta at Leeds United into the open.

The sporting director is already on very shaky ground in the wake of Jesse Marsch’s firing and may even be gone come the end of the season, but the discord was up until now kept behind the scenes.

Now, with Gracia making clear that Armas, who was brought in as the “confidant” of the manager’s predecessor [The Athletic, 7 February] and strangely kept on after he was sacked, is nothing to do with him on Thursday (9 March) he has made obvious there is a disconnect that doesn’t bode well for Orta.

Speaking to the media ahead of the visit of Brighton Saturday (11 March) Gracia said of Armas, via The Athletic: “He’s not part of my staff. He’s not here. It’s something the club can maybe explain better.”

Phil Hay wrote in the same story that the comments suggest that 50-year-old Armas’ time at Elland Road will likely “soon come to an end”, and it is the latest indication that Orta might not be far behind.

He is well known to have been the main backer of Marsch, and is therefore no doubt the one who brought the former manager’s compatriot and former teammate in on 25 January to help support.

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In the club’s statement at that point Orta said: “We always have constant ideas to improve the team around Jesse and with Chris it is a perfect fit… we are really happy he has joined us.”

But if the Spaniard was hoping that some value could still be gleaned from the appointment now that Gracia is in charge, the new boss has certainly put paid to that.

Orta wanted Marsch to stay when he was sacked on 6 February [Daily Mail], and lost that battle, having won it earlier in the season when the American was first in danger of the sack [i News, 6 February].

The internal tension over that move reported by the Mail, and the disagreements over direction thereafter reported by i News on 6 March suggest an increasingly vulnerable Orta being sidelined and his obsolete final attempt to get the Marsch project to work, Armas, left out in the cold.

Gracia, whose own messy appointment doesn’t reflect well on the hierarchy either, has now made it next to impossible for Armas to continue, or for the club to dress up his hiring as anything but a mistake.

That is the final stage of Orta’s work to get him in being undone and the latest one in an increasingly disconnected set of decisions being made in the Whites boardroom.

In other Leeds United news, a cut-price exit for a first-team regular is now on the cards as the club repeat the same pattern.

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