One of the key strengths of Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia is his adaptability, something which allows him to affect games in a “positive way” – says BBC West Yorkshire Sport’s Jonny Buchan.
Buchan’s comments came after Leeds managed to secure a crucial 2-4 win over fellow Premier League strugglers Wolves on Saturday.
When 0-2 up in the contest, Gracia replaced talented Italian winger Gnonto with defender Rasmus Kristensen, in what was presumably an attempt to shore up the Whites defence and see out the match.
Gracia’s decision was soon vindicated but perhaps not in the way that the 52-year-old expected, as Kristensen dispossessed Wolves left-back Jonny Otto and slotted home just 23 seconds after being placed on the pitch to give his side a three goal advantage.
What followed, however, was not necessarily part of the script as Wolves led a spirited fightback to bring the scoreline to 2-3, with Jonny’s straight red card for a high challenge on Luke Ayling relieving the continuous pressure on a beleaguered Leeds side.
The manner in which Gracia set up his side as the attacking threat from Wolves continued to mount, switching to a back five and sitting deep, also proved key in ensuring the Whites took all three points.
This adaptability within games is a quality of Gracia’s management style which Buchan has been quick to praise on the BBC’s Don’t Go To Bed Just Yet podcast.
“He [Gracia] can change games in a positive way. That is what Jesse [Marsch] really struggled to do,” Buchan said.
[To] see how the game was going and impact it. And Javi seemingly is quite tactically astute on that front I think.”
Buchan’s colleague Adam Pope agreed, referring to the decision to change formation at Molineux as a specific example of this.
“You have to say the tactical plan was really good throughout. And going into that [back] five was a good move.
So I think he has managed in games really really well.”
Gracia will be keen to take time during the two week international break to work with those members of his squad who haven’t been called up for national duty before the Whites travel to face Arsenal when the league resumes on 1 April.