Tag Archives: javi gracia

The Watford managerial merry-go-round continues

The sacking of Nigel Pearson was a huge surprise in terms of timing – however very few fans were surprised it happened, considering Watford’s past record.

We all know by now how they club have dismissed coach after coach, with none of them lasting over a year. The only exception is Malky Mackay who led to club from June 2009 to June 2011.

An astonishing trend

Nigel Pearson is unfortunately just one name in a list of victims to feel the wrath of the Watford board. Ever since Mackay left in June 2011 they have been through 11 managers (not including Quique Sanchez Flores twice) and that trend seems to be continuing.

Sean Dyche, Gianfranco Zola, Giuseppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia Sunyent, Billy McKinlay, Slavisa Jokanovic, Quique Sanchez Flores, Walter Mazzari, Marco Silva, Javi Gracia and finally Nigel Pearson.

Sunyent unfortunately had to resign due to medical reasons, however, it doesn’t stop this list being thoroughly astonishing.

Sannino, Sunyent, McKinlay, Jokanovic were all coaching the team between August and October 2014 – a crazy four head coaches in the space of five weeks. Jokanovic was signed on a short term contract and after finishing 2nd in the Championship, he failed to agree a new deal and was replaced with Quique Sanchez Flores.

Flores guided them to a mid-table finish and also took them to an FA Cup semi final. He was sacked at the end of the season and replaced by Walter Mazzarri. He was then sacked after finishing 17th and was replaced by the promising Marco Silva.

Marco Silva had a lot of hype surrounding him at the time after almost keeping Hull City up. This was supposed to be a new era for the club.

After a good start to the campaign he was linked with the Everton job. During this period and in the subsequent two months, the team’s performances became increasingly poor (five points from 30 in 10 Premier League matches), with fans blaming his loss of focus with the club as putting them at risk of relegation.

He was then sacked in January 2018 and the circus continued. Next came Javi Gracia  and with that Watford’s most successful appointment to date. Gracia guided them to safety in the second half of the season and remained for the beginning of the next one (18/19).

In that season they eventually finished 11th but were pushing for a European place for large parts of the campaign. They also reached only their second FA Cup final in history but were smashed 6-0 by Manchester City. He was sacked in September 2019 after a terrible start to the campaign.

The season didn’t get any easier when Quique Sanchez Flores rejoined and failed to lift the team’s form – lasting a measly 10 matches.

This is where Pearson comes in. He managed to completely turn the team’s fortunes around. They were rock bottom with zero confidence and Pearson managed to guide them out of the relegation zone.

Along the way they of course ended Liverpool’s hope of an invincibles season with a stunning 3-0 victory. They were seemingly set to be safe from relegation, three points above the relegation places. However, he was sacked with two games to go and with results going against the club, they now sit inside the bottom three on goal difference.

What now for Watford?

Aston Villa pulled off their result of the season as they beat Arsenal 1-0 to force the Hornets back into relegation peril. With their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City ( a team they have an awful record against) they now have to get a result against Arsenal too and hope Villa lose to West Ham – who are already pretty much safe.

Pearson’s sacking caused plenty of outrage between neutrals and Watford fans. His record of seven wins, five draws and 10 defeats from 22 games was very decent considering how the team were playing before he took over.

Twitter was awash with “they deserve to go down for that” messages aimed at the club. As Premier League fans we have all become accustomed to this constant cycle of sackings – but it is something that fans don’t agree with.

According to Sky Sports:

A “frank exchange of views” between Nigel Pearson and Watford owner Gino Pozzo after Friday’s defeat to West Ham was the catalyst that led to the head coach’s sacking.

Concerns over team selection, substitutions and the team’s performances since the Premier League returned to action had already eaten away at relations between Pearson and Pozzo, along with his technical director Filippo Giraldi.

It is understood Pearson still maintained support among a group of players in the Watford dressing room.

However, despite breathing life into Watford’s troubled season – they were bottom of the league, with just one win from 15 games when he arrived – some players were less supportive.

The owners held serious reservations in particular about their team’s first-half performances, with Watford failing to score the first goal in all seven games since lockdown.

Survival seems very difficult for a club who now need, more than ever, a bit of luck and good fortune to smile upon them. Is this karma for the growing number of managerial casualties? Or just a message that constant change can damage a club eventually?

Whatever it is, Watford Football Club are in danger of the drop, and the last weekend of the Premier League will prove hugely significant for the clubs future.

For more reaction to Nigel Pearson’s sacking see our latest YouTube video below:

Watford sack Javi Gracia as Quique Sánchez Flores returns

Watford FC have parted ways with Javi Gracia after a poor start to the Premier League campaign. 

Four games into the season and Watford find themselves in the miserable scenario as they are currently bottom of the table.

They have a solitary point from four matches and are having the worst possible start to the campaign. In view of this, the board has decided to sack Javi Gracia from his role as manager.

Does it look too harsh?

In his dramatic 20 months at the helm, the 49-year-old Spanish tactician led the Hornets to an FA Cup final and cruised to an 11th position finish in the Premier League.

During his tenure, he has handled several high profile players including Troy Deeney, Gerard Deulofeu, Abdoulaye Doucouré, etc.

Perhaps, his sacking after an abysmal start does seem to be a bit harsh. It could have been a result of the constant desire of results from the board and a bit of impatience, considering the manager and strategies he wanted to implement while he was at the club.

Football pundit Chris Sutton while delivering his thoughts on the Gracia-Watford case, insisted,

Watford sacking of Javi Gracia is a disgrace,” tweeted Sutton. “This can’t be justified. Quique Sanchez Flores back in but he was sacked by Watford not so long back? Football is bonkers.”

After the 1-1 draw versus Newcastle, Gracia, in the press conference, which ultimately turned out be his last one, gave references to a similar situation he faced at Malaga in La Liga a few years ago.

“I think we went to six games at Málaga without scoring. But we improved and finished in eighth. If you are winning, you only need time to see when you are going to lose – and when you are losing, you only need time to see when you win. We want to win as soon as possible, and we need to. I did it in the past, and now I want to do the same again.”

However, now it’s time for the club and their fans to look ahead.

Just minutes after his departure, Watford resigned Sanchez Flores as their new manager.

In the end, Javi Gracia’s successor has a big task on hand. Watford are 20th and the board and fans would want him to fix it as soon as possible.

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”.

2015/16

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.

2016/17

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.

2017/18

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.

2018/19

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?