Javi Gracia

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Gracia surprised by firing, but love for Watford ‘eternal’

Leave a comment

Javi Gracia was surprised to be fired by Watford, the manager said in a Sunday statement.

Watford has just one point from its first four matches of the Premier League season, but finished 11th in the Premier League last season while making an FA Cup Final run under Gracia.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The table standing was its best of the Premier League era, but the Pozzo family has been known to quickly cut ties with coaches.

Ironically, the Hornets are replacing Gracia with former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores.

Here’s Gracia’s statement, via The Mirror:

“After the unexpected announcement about the termination of my contract after only four matches, I want to express my surprise after completing the best season in Watford’s history. I respect this decision and I’d like to reassure that the excellent relationship I have with Gino Pozzo and Filippo Giraldi, and this is not going to change despite my abrupt exit of the club.

“I am grateful to this club for allowing me to manage this great club in the Premier League, it has been an incredible experience with very special moments like the FA Cup final I had the privilege to enjoy.

“I want to thank every single person who works for this club and has made my every day very easy. My gratefulness and love for this club will be eternal. And finally, I want to thank the fans for supporting me the way they did from Day One, until my last. I will always wish the fans and these players the best.”

Let’s be real, too: Given the Flores hiring and Pozzo’s penchant for switching up bosses, Gracia may one day be back at Vicarage Road.

Watford re-hires Quique Sanchez Flores

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Quique Sanchez Flores is heading back to Vicarage Road, taking over for fired Javi Gracia at Watford.

Flores managed the Hornets from 2015-16, and has since led Espanyol and Shanghai Shenhua.

[ MORE: Kane scores hat trick v. Bulgaria ]

The Hornets have just one point from four matches to start the Premier League season, having drawn Newcastle United 1-1 in Week Four. Their only win came against Coventry City in the League Cup.

The club announced that Gracia was fired earlier Saturday, and that a new hiring was imminent. Gracia led Watford to the FA Cup Final and was the first manager in nine to manage the Hornets for more than 50 matches (51).

Flores, 54, won 16 matches, drew nine, and lost 19 in a single season at Watford. The Hornets finished 13, eight points clear of the drop zone, drew Chelsea twice and beat Liverpool 3-0 amongst their more memorable results of the season.

Watford also made it to the semifinals of the FA Cup, knocking Newcastle United and Arsenal out of the competition.

Watford fires Gracia after winless start

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watford will change managers for the first time in a year and a half, which is ages for the Premier League club, and it’s bringing back a familiar face

The club fired Javi Gracia and his entire staff on Saturday, bringing Quique Sanchez Flores back into the fold.

Flores managed the Hornets from 2015-16, and has since led Espanyol and Shanghai Shenhua.

[ USMNT-MEXICO: 3 things | Player ratings ]

Watford gained just one point from its first four matches, losing to presumed top half rivals West Ham and Everton in addition to a draw at Newcastle and blow out home loss against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Chairman & CEO Scott Duxbury said: “Javi has represented Watford with great dignity and will always be deserving of our fullest respect for his achievements.”

The Pozzo family has been quick to pull the trigger on managers, and Gracia’s 51-match tenure makes him the longest-tenured boss in eight hires since Gianfranco Zola.

The timing isn’t great for a replacement, as Watford’s next two matches are home to Arsenal and away to Man City. A cup match then arrives before a tricky visit to Wolves.

Gracia finishes with an 18W-11D-22L record. He led Watford to the FA Cup Final last season, where they were blown out by Man City.

West Ham hands Watford another home loss as record-signing Haller shines

Leave a comment

West Ham United’s record signing has manager Manuel Pellegrini feeling great and Watford boss Javi Gracia looking over his shoulder.

The Irons took care of Watford 3-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday, with Sebastien Haller having a role in all three goals during a brace-bagging performance.

[ MORE: How did Pulisic perform v. Norwich?

Watford falls to 0-3, high hopes sincerely grounded having lost to Everton, Brighton and Hove Albion, and now West Ham. Two of those losses came at home, a year after the Hornets remarkable 2018-19 season ended with eight losses at Vicarage Road.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 


Three things we learned

1. Seb’s star show: West Ham United fans will be watching their big center forward closely this season as the club hopes it has its long-sought answer to the center forward position. Haller’s sensational pass helped the Irons earn a third-minute penalty, and he raced to the doorstep to deposit Felipe Anderson‘s second-half cross. After 15 goals and nine assists for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, Haller is every bit the multi-faceted playmaker required for the position. Will he be able to keep it up.

2. Don’t forget Felipe: West Ham’s transfer record holder prior to Haller’s arrival was as electric as ever. The Irons holding onto him this summer may’ve had a little bit of luck involved, but it was also a stroke of genius.

3. Will Hughes the silver blonde lining: The 24-year-old midfielder was very decent in defeat, getting an assist on Andre Gray‘s clinical equalizer before it all went back to poor form for the Hornets.

Man of the match: Haller


Noble’s penalty came after a clearly-fouled Manuel Lanzini launched himself into the air for what was a stonewall foul.

Gerard Deulofeu smashed a shot off the cross bar in the 7th minute after a terrific cross-18 through ball.

West Ham looked wide open in the midfield and allowed Hughes to show a bit of wizardry in cueing up Gray for his well-taken goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The teams continued to battle well for the points in entertaining fashion, and it was West Ham’s all-time transfer buys who delivered the winner.

Anderson‘s cross through traffic met Haller at the back post for a hopeful winner, and Haller later made it two.

Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Watford

Leave a comment
  • United has won 6 of last 7 in series
  • Watford one point back of 7th
  • Red Devils remain fifth
  • Man Utd leads all-time 21W-5D-5L

Manchester United looks for a season sweep of pesky Watford and improved footing in the Top Four race when the two sides meet at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

It’s been 19 days since Manchester United fell 2-0 to Arsenal, a long time for newly-confirmed full-time manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to marinate on his first Premier League loss as manager of the Old Trafford set.

Watford has lost two of its last three PL outings, though those setbacks came against Liverpool and Manchester City

United bested Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road in September, with Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku scoring twice in three first-half minutes.

What they’re saying

United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on being named full-time manager: “This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I’m beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long term. From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club. It was an honour to be a Manchester United player, and then to start my coaching career here. The last few months have been a fantastic experience.”

Watford’s Javi Gracia on schedule congestion due to FA Cup: “We have to play eight games in the Premier League and I hope two in the FA Cup. Ten games and in these ten games, we have to show what we are able to do in the most important part of the season. I’m always focused on the next game. We’ve done this all season and it is the best way. We will continue in the same way. We have to take the right decisions and all the games are important, but now the most important game is United.”

Prediction

A delighted Old Trafford is too much for the Hornets, who fall 3-1 to the hosts.