Leeds United v Liverpool: Georginio Rutter has a 'brilliant future' insists Javi Gracia

A MAJOR part of the thinking behind Leeds United's decision to shelve out a club record £35.5m fee on Georginio Rutter in January revolved around the striker firing some key goals in their survival mission and making a difference.

After 11 appearances in league and cup for United, the former Borussia Monchengladbach player is still awaiting his first goal for the club ahead of this evening's home fixture against Liverpool.

There are mitigating factors regarding Rutter, that said.

In his nine matches at top-flight level thus far, Rutter has made just one start and his total game time - including stoppage time - stands at a modest 253 minutes.

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Georginio Rutter pictured in action in Leeds United's FA Cup tie at Accrington Stanley in January.  Picture Bruce RollinsonGeorginio Rutter pictured in action in Leeds United's FA Cup tie at Accrington Stanley in January.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Georginio Rutter pictured in action in Leeds United's FA Cup tie at Accrington Stanley in January. Picture Bruce Rollinson

By way of context, Rodrigo, a record capture at the time, did not score in his first seven Premier League games, which were all starts.

For his part, United head coach Javi Gracia is remaining calm and has stressed the importance of the bigger picture with Rutter, who only turns 21 on Thursday.

The fact that the young forward joined a struggling side halfway through a season should represent another key consideration.

That said, an early present ahead of his milestone birthday by way of a maiden Leeds goal would be gratefully received by and all and sundry in a Elland Road fixture which has famously seen two former United forwards produce iconic moments in Mark Viduka and Tony Yeboah.

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Rutter and Leeds would gladly take a scruffy tap-in this evening.

Confident that the Frenchman will adapt and start making an impact over time, Gracia said: "Yes, of course. But not only Georgi, I think that with all the new players who are coming to a new country, a new competition, all of them need time.

"But not especially Georgi. Georgi is working very well, he’s a good character and I’m sure his future will be brilliant.

"He had some chances. In the time I’ve been here, he’s started playing some games (one in the FA Cup) and played some minutes in others.

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"It’s true he’s not had the continuity in the games, but I’m sure when we have more chances, he will show his quality and he will help the team.

"But I have to decide and try to choose what I think is best for the team (now). I don’t have any other explanation."

Leeds face a Liverpool side who have not won in their last five outings in all competitions with the Merseysiders resembling a side between 'eras' and in transition.

For his part, Gracia is reading little into the current state of play at Liverpool, unbeaten in seven fixtures in all competitions at Leeds since that unforgettable Viduka-inspired 4-3 home win in November 2000.

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The Spaniard also knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a Jurgen Klopp-powered side from his previous spell in England at Watford.

In his three games against Klopp's Reds, the Hornets conceded 18 goals and failed to score en route to a trio of comprehensive defeats, including two 5-0 drubbings at Anfield.

Leeds did record a famous triumph there under Gracia's predecessor last autumn and three points this evening would clinch a first league double since 2000-01.

But Gracia is the first to acknowledge what Leeds will come up against as he prepares to pit his wits against one of the biggest managerial names in the business.

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Gracia continued: "I try to do my job and achieve my objective. Jurgen Klopp is an amazing manager, as everybody knows and his work is amazing.

"I don’t know if he is number three, number one, number four or number six – I (just) know how good a manager he is.

"After that, sometimes (seasons) are better or worse but his work is without any doubt, in my opinion."

While there has been much conjecture about an impending summer 'reboot' at Liverpool and potential squad overhaul, Gracia does not have the luxury of thinking ahead.

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Any chance of him sticking around at Leeds beyond this summer is likely to hinge upon survival.

The future must wait and the 52-year-old is not concerning himself with talk about recruitment, contractual decisions or his own future - just the here and now.

Gracia, who signed a 'flexible' contract with Leeds in February, continued: "I want to be honest with everybody and for me, the future is the Liverpool game. Beyond that, speaking about players in the future is not my job at this moment.

"I prefer to be focused on my job which is really tough with the many difficulties we have with injured players.

"We try to give our best and compete and try to get the points we need."After that we will see what happens. We have time to speak about all these things."

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