Sam Allardyce replaces Javi Gracia
Sam Allardyce, who had previously failed to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, was unlikely to receive any more calls to rescue struggling football clubs. His appointment as manager of Leeds United came after the sacking of Javi Gracia and director of football Victor Orta.
On a "flexible contract," Gracia was named Jesse Marsch's replacement in February. However, after losing four of their previous five games, Leeds is now only above the Premier League relegation zone on goal differential.
Allardyce's "Fireman Sam" routine, based on defensive organisation and discipline, is a stark contrast to the all-out attacking style of previous manager Marcelo Bielsa. However, Leeds United's current team is not suited to Allardyce's style of play, and it remains to be seen if he can quickly transform the squad to save them from relegation.
Director of football Victor Orta left the team mutually, Leeds confirmed prior to Gracia's dismissal.
Leeds United have struggled this season, with Gracia winning only three out of 11 league games. The team is vulnerable defensively and lacks confidence. Allardyce's appointment is a desperate attempt to maintain their top-flight status. If he succeeds, he will be hailed as a miracle-working hero. He will not be criticized for inheriting a squad in irreversible decline with only four games remaining if he fails.
Allardyce's confidence and self-belief will be critical in motivating the team to quickly adapt to his style of play. He must shore up their defense, decide on the goalkeeper, and get the best out of their attacking talents. Leeds United's hierarchy may feel they have nothing to lose, having already decided Gracia was taking them down. Allardyce's appointment may be a win-win for him, as he will be regarded as a hero if he succeeds, and not blamed if he fails.