Leeds players are in a ‘vicious circle’ psychologically amid struggles of USMNT star Weston McKennie & other under-fire players - Javi Gracia
- Leeds sacked Gracia after 12 matches
- Lost five of their seven matches in April
- Gracia blamed psychological aspect after facing the axe
WHAT HAPPENED? It took just a phone call from Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani to send Gracia packing back to Malaga in Spain after a dismal April where they lost five out of seven Premier League matches. The Whites have appointed Sam Allardyce in a last-ditch attempt to fend off relegation as they currently find themselves in the 17th spot with 30 points from 34 matches, one rung ahead of Nottingham Forest on goal difference. However, Gracia believes that the players are psychologically down which held them back from giving their best on the pitch.
USMNT star Weston McKennie has been among the most heavily criticised players in the team lately, though he's hardly alone in catching blame during a putrid run of form for Leeds.
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WHAT THEY SAID: "I had the feeling that the players felt a little like a boxer who had been hit, who is down for a few moments and wants to get up but he is not able to. It is sure that it transmitted something negative that did not correspond with what I believe my players really are," he told The Athletic.
“There is a psychological aspect. A player can enter subconsciously into the vicious circle from which they cannot escape. And we did not have that moment go our way with the fine margins. In the last minute against Leicester, Patrick had a chance just wide and Marc Roca came close to scoring a winner."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Gracia revealed that things were "positive" at the start and rued that his troops did not have enough luck at crucial moments.
"The dynamic had felt really positive and, even recently, we did start some of these games in a very positive and concentrated manner. But maybe we did not have that bit of fortune, for a ball to drop our way, or a decision to go our way. In the last game against Bournemouth, we had a call where it looked like a penalty but was right on the edge of the area. I felt we had started the game well and then we conceded two goals quickly,'" he continued.
AND WHAT'S MORE: Sporting director Victor Orta was also relieved of his duties as he was not in favour of sacking Gracia, which has hurt the manager badly.
"I can honestly say my time at Leeds has been an enriching experience, and the human qualities of Victor Orta have been an authentic pleasure to be around. It was one of the places in my career where they have made me feel good and comfortable in myself. Personally, I did not know Victor very well before taking the job. I had never spent time with him previously. It’s been a very intense period. It hurt me a lot to lose my job, but I have to say Victor’s exit is just as difficult for me, if not more," he stated.
IN THREE PHOTOS:
Leeds United can confirm Victor Orta has left the club by mutual consent— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 2, 2023
WHAT NEXT? Leeds would be hoping to turn around their fortunes under new manager Allardyce when they make a trip to the Etihad Stadium to take on title contenders Manchester City.