By George Overhill

22nd Feb, 2023 | 12:40pm

Jim White has been told there are “no guarantees” that Leeds United will have Javi Gracia in the dug-out vs Southampton by Alex Crook on talkSPORT.

The new Whites boss was appointed on Tuesday (21 February) with the club desperate to get somebody in for the bottom-of-the-table clash at Elland Road on Saturday.

But the wait for a work permit is now a “race against time” with the Spaniard currently operating “with his hands behind his back” until it arrives, according to Crook, and it could be the latest in a series of missteps at Elland Road in attempting to move on from Jesse Marsch.

Speaking live on talkSPORT on Wednesday morning (22 February, 11.51am) White said: “In comes Javi Gracia, up next for Leeds United, Southampton.

“I tell you what Alex, are there problems on the horizon, are we hearing, in terms of Javi Gracia being in the dug out or not being in the dug out because of a work permit issue?”

Crook responded: “There’s a race against time for that Jim, certainly… Javi Gracia appointed yesterday on what was described by Leeds as a ‘flexible’ contract.

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“I’ve not come across that terminology before. I think we can see it as a deal until the end of the season and then, surely, if he was to keep Leeds in the Premier League something more long-term would come his way.

“There’s a work permit application in. There’s no guarantees that will be successful before the weekend. It means he’s sat with his hands behind his back in some ways because he won’t be able to take training at this stage.

“Certainly the plan for Leeds United is to have him in the dug out for what I think is one of the games in the Premier League this weekend… Southampton have got their tails up after what was a magnificent victory at Stamford Bridge.”


Given how the fortnight since Marsch was sacked has gone it will perhaps come as no surprise to Leeds United fans if they end up with a fourth game under caretaker boss Michael Skubala.

But it should never have gone past the first meeting with Manchester United without a new man at least lined up and certainly not past the return at Elland Road.

That the board attempted to muddle through with the under-21s boss until the end of the season after an encouraging double-header against Erik ten Hag, only to see that go up in flames with defeat at Everton, says everything about this managerial change.

It may be that, by accident if not design, they have stumbled onto the right answer in Gracia after initially making contact soon after Marsch’s sacking [Sky Sports, 21 February] but not making a serious move until after the Everton loss.

But the proof will be in results on the pitch, and after Southampton won last week at the same time as the Toffees downed the Whites the margin for error is non-existent.

Another defeat, at home, to the only club now beneath them in the table, would be a disaster any way it is looked at, but if it occurs because Gracia isn’t cleared in time to take charge it will sum up the series of crises ever since a very encouraging January transfer window closed.

In other Leeds United news, the club are at the head of the queue to pull of an impressive coup in the transfer market.