Javi Gracia – How has he changed Watford?
Since their promotion in 2015, Watford, have endured a slow, but steady rise which has seen them battle promoted side Wolverhampton Wanderers for an all-time high of 7th this season. But how? Here, we take a look at how they’ve gone from an ordinary side, to a potential “force to be reckoned with”.
In their first season back in the top flight under Quique Sanchez Flores, their league form wasn’t great, having only mustered a win streak of four matches from late November, to late December. However, it wasn’t all bad as they did reach the FA Cup semi-final, with Odion Ighalo finishing as top scorer.
The following season, it was all change as Walter Mazzarri became their manager. It wasn’t any better than the previous season, as they only managed three separate win streaks in September, the conclusion of January and the start of February, and early April. It was thanks to a Hull City side that were considerably worse than them that they managed to remain in the Premier League.
Yet another managerial change happened, with Marco Silva coming in from relegated Hull City. The Hornets had a decent start to the season before it was alleged that Silva’s head was turned by another club ,and was mainly the reason for the sides downturn in form that saw them risking relegation. He was eventually sacked towards the end of January, and was replaced by Javi Gracia in the same month. Under Gracia, their form wasn’t better but did just about enough to stay up, including earning a memorable home win over Chelsea.
Before the start of the season, they lost key player Richarlison to Everton, which prompted questions about whether they could stay up this season.
Despite, that their start to the season has been exceptionally good, racking up a win streak of four matches – their all-time best in the Premier League.
They are currently in the top 10, and are looking to beat both Wolves, and Everton to 7th securing European football, which would be an all-time best, and are FA Cup quarter-finalists again.
But how have they gone from being perennial strugglers to top 10 challengers? How has Javi Gracia changed the mentality of the side? The acquisition of Gerard Deulofeu seems to have the image of the club given that he’s come from Barcelona, rather than a Stoke City type of side. He has also maintained the role of Troy Deaney who is a fan favourite at Watford and he has been in fine form.
Gracia has seen the talent that Watford has, and has utilised them well. I like managers that come into the Premier League, and know that they can do better than the level the club is currently at. The likes of Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City, and Nuno Espirito Santo have shown that.
Back to Gracia, I like what’s he’s done with Watford such as looking at ways to improve, and bettering the squad. He’s given them the belief that the squad can aim higher than just doing enough to survive like in previous seasons. Can he keep it up though? We’ll have to find out…
If Watford do indeed finish 7th, the Spanish manager would surely have to be nominated for Manager of the Season, right?