Leeds United are in serious danger of falling back into the Championship next season, and the arrival of Javi Gracia has unfortunately not been the appointment to save them from this fate. The Whites have had a tumultuous Premier League season so far, suffering their third consecutive defeat at Craven Cottage this weekend with both poor defensive and uninspiring attacking performances.
While Gracia is not entirely to blame for the form he inherited the squad in, the continued reliance on players who are not delivering in this crucial stage of the season is a major concern. In particular, Patrick Bamford has only scored three league goals since the turn of the year, which is not a consistent enough output to save Leeds from their plight.
Moreover, Gracia’s lack of belief in Wilfried Gnonto could be heading for disaster. Gnonto, the 19-year-old Italian winger who joined Leeds last summer in a £3.8m deal from FC Zurich, has been snubbed for the starting side following his return from injury, making just three cameos amounting to no more than 30 minutes.
Over 19 Premier League appearances, Gnonto has scored two goals, registered three assists, and created two big chances – awe-inspiring numbers for someone so young. His involvement at such a young age was promising, further averaging one key pass, 1.2 tackles and winning 4.1 duels per game as a marker of his all-round ability.
Despite this, Gracia has not been giving Gnonto the opportunity to display his talents on the pitch, with Saturday’s defeat marking the fourth game in a row he has been snubbed for the starting side. However, it would be a no-brainer for Gracia to deploy Gnonto in the starting XI on Tuesday at Elland Road against Leicester City. Gnonto can offer a fresh perspective in the forward line and potentially save Leeds’ season with a consistent run in the team.
Leeds’ biggest problem has been conceding goals, with 18 scored against them since the beginning of this month. However, their tenacity in front of the goal has weakened significantly as the season has gone on. If they are going to avoid relegation, it will be important for Gracia to make tweaks to find the recipe for success on the pitch. Only time will tell if Gracia will heed this call and give Gnonto a chance to shine.