Leeds United are obligated to hold a Friday press conference whether Javi Gracia is ready for Southampton or not, Phil Hay reports.
The Whites plan to have the new manager in the dug-out for the 19th vs 20th clash at Elland Road on Saturday (25 February), but it is as yet unclear whether the Spaniard will be forced to watch from the stands, or whether he will face the press a day prior.
Despite being appointed on Tuesday (21 February) the former Watford boss doesn’t automatically qualify for a work permit but, whether it is him or Michael Skubala, somebody has to take questions under Premier League rules according to Hay, as the wait goes on for the new manager to start.
Hay explained on The Phil Hay Show on Thursday (23 February, 11min): “The club’s plan is to have a press conference tomorrow, which would be Friday ahead of the Southampton game.
“The plan is certainly for Gracia to be in the dug-out for Southampton on Saturday, but naturally it is all work permit dependant.
“Premier League rules mean they’re obliged to do a press conference before 2pm on Friday.”
If the identity of the man to sit in front of the microphones is still not clear when he walks into the press room on Friday it is either going to result in a surge of interest in Gracia’s first comments as Leeds United boss, or a major anticlimax if the unfortunate Skubala is trotted out again.
The caretaker boss has received a promotion to the first-team staff either way, but has been left with the poison chalice of standing in after the sacking of Jesse Marsch.
He wouldn’t have expected to still be in charge for the miserable defeat at Everton last week but whatever he did or didn’t do in preparation clearly failed and sparked the board into finally landing Gracia.
Another defeat to a relegation rival when Ruben Selles and Southampton come to town will leave the Whites bottom of the Premier League and in big trouble, so Gracia getting his work permit granted cannot come soon enough.
That it is has come down to a race against time to get a man who appears to be, at best, about sixth-choice cleared in time to take charge of the fourth match since Marsch was sacked says everything about how much the supporters have enjoyed proceedings since the transfer window closed.
The hierarchy might have ended up with the right man, but getting him in charge for the game is most important and if he isn’t at the press conference it will mean it is going down to the wire.