Backroom update at Leeds United following Gracia appointment
Written by Simon Austin — February 24, 2023
LEEDS UNITED have announced Javi Gracia’s assistants, with Michael Skubala remaining in the first-team set-up following two matches as interim Head Coach.
Skubala took charge for the Premier League games against Manchester United and Everton this month following the sacking of Jesse Marsch.
He will now step up from his permanent position as Under-21s Head Coach to become one of Gracia’s assistants. Paco Gallardo, who joined in November as a development coach helping the transition of players from the Academy to senior side, has taken on Skubala's former U21s role.
Gracia, who was appointed Head Coach earlier this week, has now received his work permit. And the Spaniard has brought three staff with him to Leeds:
- Zigor Aranalde: Worked alongside his compatriot at Watford, Valencia and Al Sadd, having previously been Chief Scout at Brighton and West Brom.
- Juan Jose Solla: Has worked with Gracia for even longer - at Cádiz, Villarreal B, Malaga, Rubin Kazan, Watford, Valencia and Al Sadd.
- Mikel Antia: Played alongside Gracia at Real Sociedad but this is his first time working with him as a coach. Antia was assistant to Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United and Dalian Pro in China.
Gracia's fourth assistant will be Skubala, who only joined the club in July last year, as U21s Head Coach. He had previously worked for the Football Association for more than five years.
He was Head Coach and Elite Performance Manager for England futsal from January 2017 until it was disbanded towards the end of 2020. After this he was retained and had been working with England's U18s for 18 months before the move to Elland Road.
Meanwhile, TGG can reveal that Ewan Sharp has now left the club. The Scot, who worked under Ralf Ragnick as an analyst at Manchester United last season, had joined in July 2022 as one of Jesse Marsch’s assistants.
Marsch’s other assistants - Rene Maric, Cameron Toshack and Head of Performance Pierre Barrieu - had left along with the American at the start of the month. Sharp stayed on to work with Skubala but has now gone too.
However, Chris Armas, who joined as assistant in January, has been retained by the club and will be given a new role, which is yet to be decided. Like Sharp, Armas also worked under Rangnick at Manchester United last season.