Javi Gracia Carlos, 47 year old former Spanish midfielder became manager of Watford Football Club in late January 2018 after signing a 2 year contract. He replaced Marco Silva who had a short spell at the club being sacked following the 2-0 defeat against Leicester City back in January. Admittedly, Silva had an excellent start for the golden boys, but after a deterioration of results (a run in one win in eleven matches), it ultimately cost him his job. Parting company with Silva came to a surprise to me as I didn’t expect it to happen so early on in the season, as owners the Pozzo family, don’t usually sack managers midseason. As a Watford fan, I believe it was the right decision to sack Marco Silva because a quick decline in results meant there was an increased likelihood of heading into a relegation battle. In addition, since Silva tried to jump ship when bigger offers came along from Everton he was never the same, he lost his focus and commitment to the club having a knock on effect on the Hornets performances. Arguably, Silva is a good manager but it was crucial Watford let him go before it cost them their position in the top flight.
Current Watford manager Javi Gracia came in for the club when Watford were 10th in the League and only 5 points from the relegation zone. At the time, fans were worried about the future of Watford as the new man in charge was relatively unknown.
Beforehand, Javi had coached for his hometown Spain, Greece and Russia, building a respectable reputation. During his two seasons with Malaga he succeeded back to back top 10 La Liga finishes and his Malaga side went unbeaten against Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Undoubtedly, Javi had a superb start as the new Watford boss keeping a clean sheet against Stoke City in a 0-0 draw at the Bet365 Stadium. The following week, securing a 4-1 victory against Chelsea at Vicarage Road sending Watford fans into a frenzy. To date, I can honestly say that was one of the best games I have been to while Watford have been in the Premier League. The Hornets then went on to win the next two home games against Everton and West Brom, both 1-0 victories which can only be described as ugly wins. This clearly shows that Javi is a defensive manager specialising in keeping clean sheets, as well as the fact he rarely plays a 4-4-2 formation. However, the Watford squad have not been able to find the back of the net away from home since playing at the Etihad Stadium in a 3-1 defeat while under Marco Silva. So far while being under Javi Gracia, Watford have secured 3 wins, 3 draws and 5 defeats, a reasonable record on paper.
The real question is do Watford keep Javi at the end of the season or swap him for a new manager? If Watford part company with Javi at the end of the season it wouldn’t be fair as he’s not been given the chance in such a short period of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen though, as Watford are renowned for changing managers after every season. In my view, Watford have the best owners in the Premier League because they are able to bring in foreign managers, swap them in a short space of time and the club is still able to work around the manager. This unusual model is not popular with other clubs who tend to keep managers longer term for stability. On the surface, Javi Gracia has a good attitude and appears in interviews to be knowledgeable and well-spoken. From watching many Watford matches, I can say Javi makes the right substitutions at the right time in the game and sets his team up well depending on the opponents. On the other hand, If Javi was to part with Watford at the end of the season I wouldn’t be surprised. The likes of Claudio Ranieri, perhaps Arsene Wenger or Slavisa Jokanovic could be interested in becoming the next single season manager. Only time will tell if this Spaniard stays.
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featured image credit The Times