Leeds United v Leicester CIty - Javi Gracia calls for 'unconditional' fans support as United seek to end their 'vicious circle' of results

BACK in April 1990, Leicester City were the visitors to Elland Road on a famous occasion when Leeds United won 2-1 – with Gordon Strachan's winner prompting an immortal line from commentator John Helm.

He gushed 'Have you ever seen a better goal?' as United took a big step towards promotion to the top flight in front of their delirious fans.

If the modern-day version of Leeds prevail against the Foxes almost 33 years on, the club will struggle to find a better win in the context of their ailing season in one of their most crucial matches on home soil since their return to the Premier League in 2020.

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Relegation-threatened Leeds, fresh from debilitating home defeats to Liverpool and Crystal Palace and three losses on the spin, have hit skid row at the worst possible time in the campaign – more especially with a tough May on the horizon against Manchester City and Newcastle among others.

Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia. Picture: Tony Johnson.Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Many supporters left Elland Road early after pitiful second-half capitulations against Liverpool and Palace.

Fans were also in an understandably disgruntled mood during Saturday's loss at Fulham and sections of the away end made their feelings known towards director of football Victor Orta in the second half in particular.

Tonight's game also has the potential to be febrile if things again go awry. For his part, head coach Javi Gracia is anxious for the fanbase not to turn on the players and stick with the side on a huge night against a fellow struggler.

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Gracia said: "Mentality is important as we do not have much time to prepare for the next game (after Fulham). Of course, you have to prepare for the game tactically, but mentally, now the team needs this support.

"I would like to ask the supporters to support their players as in this moment, they need them.

"When we play at home, we feel really well because we always have the unconditional support of our fans. I'm sure in this game, it will not be different."

Among Leeds's squad are a number of young players, several of whom are still in their first full season of Premier League football, it is easy to forget.The 2022-23 campaign has been a major learning curve. Gracia is the first to acknowledge that the current scenario is far from ideal for the club's emerging players who he has pledged to support to help break the club's 'vicious circle' in terms of poor recent form.The Spaniard continued: "What I they feel is that my players are working very well every day.

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"As I said before, when I arrived, I could feel they really wanted to change the dynamic. They wanted to do everything to get the results. And now, it doesn't change.

"Of course we're coming from three bad results, but the atmosphere and the spirit of the team is the same."I think we have very good players and like the rest of the teams and players, they have ups and downs and we have to manage that, even more with young players.

"If they need support, I will be here to support them because they need the support - not only when we win some important games for the club - but now they need the support when they are not in the best moment to break this vicious circle."After that, I am sure they will be back at their best level."

Last six games: Leeds WLWLLL; Leicester DLLLLW.

Referee: P Tierney (Wigan).

Last time: Leeds 1 Leicester 1, November 7, 2021; Premier League.