By George Overhill

23rd May, 2023 | 8:10pm

Chris Sutton backs Leeds United vs 'hopeless' under Ryan Mason Tottenham after 'ridiculous' Sam Allardyce gamble fails

Chris Sutton believes it was a “decidedly odd” gamble for Leeds United to appoint Sam Allardyce with four games left and it has been proven to be the wrong one.

The pundit suggested that Javi Gracia’s record wasn’t that bad but if they were going to make a change they needed to make it earlier, and with Premier League survival partly out of their hands heading into the final day against Tottenham it has clearly not paid off.

He has however backed Leeds United to have a chance against Ryan Mason’s embattled Spurs side on Sunday (28 May), but it is going to take help from Goodison Park in the form of a Bournemouth win at Everton to mean anything even if Allardyce’s men are victorious.

Speaking on the Monday Night Club on BBC Radio 5 Live (22 May, 1h 29m 20s) Sutton said: “We all know the issues which have gone on at Leeds this season, but the gamble on Allardyce was so late, it was a ridiculous gamble [with] four games left to bring a manager in and now they’re launching long throws into the box.

“I know they scored off a long throw [vs West Ham] but it’s decidedly odd.

“When you look at Gracia’s record, yes the wheels came off a little bit at the end but 11 points from 11 games wasn’t an absolute disaster, they just panicked.

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“They should have brought Allardyce in earlier, they didn’t. They’ve gambled massively and it looks like it’s the wrong gamble.

“But, do you know what? I actually think they’ve got a chance of beating Tottenham at the weekend, because Tottenham have been pretty hopeless under Ryan Mason so I don’t think that’s dead in the water.”


On paper Gracia’s record doesn’t look too bad but for anyone who was following the club remotely closely in the final weeks of his run know that that virtually all the positives came in the first half of that period.

Whether it was the right move to make another change with four games left will rely entirely on whether Allardyce pulls off the great escape on the final day with an assist from Gary O’Neil and Bournemouth.

Either limping to the finish line with the Spaniard in charge or parachuting the English veteran in after two years out of the game seemed like two unattractive options over all, with the damage largely done.

But there were points under both where it looked like if the Leeds United players could eek out one more result then it might be enough, and that is almost how it has gone.

Had the resurgent Whites built on the morale-boosting win over Nottingham Forest with another against Crystal Palace in less than a week last month they appeared to be well on their way, but the wheels didn’t so much come off at half time of the latter game as be fired miles over the horizon in opposite directions, and Gracia never recovered.

Similarly, had Big Sam’s side capitalised on taking the lead at a West Ham side just three days from a tiring trip to the Netherlands to reach a European final, they would be in the box seat heading into the final day, but again defeat was snatched from a position of strength and now the odds are against them.

That Spurs have only won three times in the past three months is cause for some optimism in the finale, but it would have been a lot more if the Whites weren’t relying on results elsewhere at the same time.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay has delivered a “shambolic” verdict amid a prediction on two key injuries for the crunch final game.