Watford name Gracia as new boss

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Watford have named Javi Gracia as their new head coach, hours after the Premier League club sacked Marco Silva.

Spaniard Gracia, who has signed an 18-month contract at Vicarage Road, has been out of work since leaving Russian club Rubin Kazan last June.

The 47-year-old previously spent two seasons with Spanish La Liga side Malaga, and also worked in Greece.

Gracia is the 10th manager to work for Watford under the Pozzo family since 2012.

He says restoring confidence will be one of his first tasks.

“The team has played some good matches this season and I think they can do it again,” he told the club website.

“It’s not easy arriving in the middle of the season, but you must be ready and I am grateful and have plenty of energy to win the rest of the matches.

“It is a big challenge, but it is also a dream.”

Watford said Everton’s approach for Silva in November was the “catalyst” for their decision to sack him.

He was the eighth Premier League manager to lose his job this season, following changes at Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester City, Stoke, Swansea, West Brom and West Ham.

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Gracia, who will take training at Watford on Monday, led Malaga to consecutive top-10 finishes in La Liga with limited resources.

In his first season – 2014-15 – they held eventual champions Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at La Rosaleda before a famous 1-0 win at the Nou Camp.

The following season they drew twice with Real Madrid.

Watford are 10th in the Premier League, four points above the relegation zone after Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Leicester.

Gracia’s first game in charge will be Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Southampton.

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Analysis

Spanish football expert Andy West

Gracia’s teams do not play flowing, attacking football but operate with good positional discipline and are very hard to break down, so Watford fans can prepare for an effective and balanced team rather than a thrilling one.

A mark of his influence is how badly Malaga have struggled this season – they finished in the bottom half last season and are bottom now, having gone through four different managers since Gracia departed just 18 months ago.

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