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Javi Gracia opens up on relegation “stress”, wants to protect his players

Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia finds himself firmly locked in a Premier League relegation battle, an unenviable position by all means.

Such was the case when the Spaniard arrived at the club as the Whites were rapidly sinking under the leadership of former manager Jesse Marsch.

Now, Leeds find themselves 19th in the table, despite picking up as many points in Gracia’s three league games in charge (4) as they did in the ten games leading up to Marsch being sacked.

The one consolation for Gracia is that the league table this season is remarkably tight, with the gap between 12th and 20th being just five points.

A win against Wolves when his side travel to Molineux on Saturday would reduce the gap between the two sides to just one point, and could see Leeds climb as high as 14th if other results go their way.

Due to how tight the table currently looks, the tension surrounding the West Yorkshire outfit is at a season-long high. Every point is vital.

Gracia on “stress” and insulating his players from it

For Gracia, this sense of continuous “stress” is what drives him, as he revealed in a press conference this Thursday. He is keen to give the appearance of remaining calm to his players, however.

“I don’t relax. I live stressed. I feel the stress inside and I think that’s the best thing I can do,” he said (as per Yorkshire Evening Post).

“The best way I can help my players is to give them the confidence and calm to help them play the best way. I don’t help them if I stress or shout a lot. It’s not my way.

For sure, inside I suffer a lot but I try to give what my players need. They need confident and support because they are showing me the quality and commitment.”

Gracia also revealed the impact that becoming manager at Leeds has had on his personal life.

“I live in the training ground. 12 hours here, the rest is to have dinner and rest at the hotel. Watch the games, speak with family by phone, then sleep. That’s all.”

Gracia opens up on “stress” due to threat of relegation

As a Leeds supporter, it’s great to see a manager so committed to ensuring Premier League survival, but you have to question whether the all-consuming nature of the job is entirely healthy.

Living with continuous stress – and having limited time for family and other personal concerns – is not good for anyone.

Gracia did, of course, know the gravity of the task he was inheriting from Marsch – and perhaps this stress is just an unfortunate by-product of a high pressure job.

We can only hope that Gracia satisfies his remit, and gives himself a well-earned rest come the end of the season.

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