While Jesse Marsch’s sacking from Leeds United a matter of weeks ago was unsurprising, the decision that was taken in order to replace him was somewhat of a shock.
The Whites cast their net out in search of a swift appointment but were knocked back several times, first by the disciple of Marcelo Bielsa – Carlos Corberan – who signed a new deal at West Bromwich Albion and then by Andoni Iraola who was blocked by his club, Rayo Vallecano.
As a result, Victor Orta and co were left with limited options, ultimately looking towards his fellow countryman in Javi Gracia.
A strange appointment it indeed looks, and when considering he reportedly doesn’t even have a work permit, the hire becomes even more perplexing.
The former Watford boss at least arrives with experience in English football and indeed the Premier League, but it will be an uphill battle to keep the Yorkshire side in the division.
Fortunately, he does have a number of talented young players to call upon, one of which is Giorginio Rutter.
What impact could Rutter have under Gracia?
The year of 2023 has been a troubling one not just for Leeds, who have not won a game since the resumption of the league following the World Cup, but also for new signing Rutter.
Signed from Hoffenheim in the winter, the 20-year-old looks a raw but exciting talent. That said, he is yet to find the net in his five Premier League games and 109 minutes of action.
Those are limited involvements indeed but under Gracia, he could well thrive.
After all, this is a manager who once coached a certain Richarlison to prominence all those years ago at Vicarage Road with the Brazilian – now a £60m footballer at Spurs – playing under Gracia’s tutelage for the Hornets.
Will Rutter succeed at Leeds?
Although he failed to score for the Spaniard, he is undoubtedly one of the most notable players the new Leeds boss has worked with.
The Brazil international is a master of the dark arts when it comes to his off-the-ball work, making himself a nuisance for opposition defenders.
But he is indeed a competent footballer too, using his pace and trickery to work openings for both himself and his teammates. It is those qualities that have seen him ultimately go on to score 48 times in the Premier League.
Capable of operating as a centre-forward or out on the flanks, there are clear parallels with Rutter who plays in similar areas of the pitch.
At Leeds, the Frenchman has exclusively played as a striker but with Patrick Bamford now back in the fold, could play out wide. That said, with Gracia previously favouring a 4-4-2, perhaps the duo could operate together in the same side.
But what makes this comparison to Richarlison all the more obvious is their skill set, with scout Jacek Kulig once hailing the “clinical finisher” for his “blistering pace.”
Described as ‘part centre-forward, part jet-heeled winger’ by the Bundesliga website, the 20-year-old was among the 50 quickest players in Germany’s top tier with a top speed of 21.46 mph, just 2 mph quicker than that of the current Spurs attacker.
Rutter’s ‘direct running and mesmerising dribbling’ as per Bundesliga.com only add further comparisons, with such a player only set to get better as the years go on.
Leeds, and Gracia, however, will just have to hope that progression happens in the next few weeks. He will be key to any chance the Elland Road outfit has of staying up.