5 things you may not know about new Watford boss Javi Gracia
The Spaniard is the Hornets’ 10th manager since the Pozzo family’s takeover.
Watford made their latest managerial change on Sunday, sacking Marco Silva and appointing Javi Gracia as his successor.
Gracia, the Hornets’ 10th manager since the Pozzo family’s takeover at the club in 2012, has signed an 18-month deal at Vicarage Road.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things you may not know about the Spaniard.
1. Achievements in Spain
✍️ | #watfordfc is delighted to announce the appointment of Javi Gracia as the club’s new Head Coach on an 18-month contract.— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) January 21, 2018
Find out more here ⤵️https://t.co/tFYSWXDW8u pic.twitter.com/0TQjqQJOqR
While Gracia’s last job before this was a season-long spell in Russia with Rubin Kazan that ended last summer, he has spent most of his career in his homeland and enjoyed some notable successes there, particularly with Malaga. The 47-year-old’s two terms in charge at the Andalusian club saw them finish ninth and eighth in LaLiga in 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively. He had overseen Almeria’s promotion to the division in 2012-13, then failed to prevent Osasuna from being relegated a year later, before landing the Malaga job.
2. Troubling the big boys
During Gracia’s time with Malaga, they secured a number of impressive results against LaLiga’s top sides. That included holding Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at home then beating them 1-0 away in the first season, and drawing twice against Real Madrid in the second, when they also beat Atletico Madrid.
3. ‘Pure chloroform’
After the victory at the Nou Camp, El Pais newspaper described Malaga’s tactics as “pure chloroform for Barcelona”. Barca played a total of 60 matches in LaLiga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey that season, winning all three competitions, and their encounters with Gracia’s men were two of only five games among that in which they failed to score.
4. A tough time in Russia
Official: Javi Gracia announced as new Rubin Kazan manager. https://t.co/YwqXGBeslh— Rubin Kazan UK (@RubinKazanUK) May 26, 2016
Rubin Kazan came ninth in the Russian Premier League under Gracia and he admits he found it “very tough”. Speaking to Sky Sports earlier this season, he said of his tenure: “The culture and the character there is very different. Communication was difficult. I had 13 different nationalities and five translators so it was difficult to explain my plans on a daily basis. The weather was a very big problem too.” He also spent time away from Spain before taking the Almeria job in 2012, having brief stints in charge at Greek sides Olympiacos Volou and Kerkyra.
5. Playing career
Prior to becoming a manager, Pamplona-born Gracia was a defensive midfielder. Real Sociedad and Villarreal were among the clubs he represented in a playing career that concluded in 2004.