Football News

Watford replace Javi Gracia with Quique Sanchez Flores: The coach who bucked a Pozzo trend replaced by an old face

By Will Hall

Published: 18:28, 7 September 2019 | Updated: 20:06, 29 September 2019

Watford have sacked Javi Gracia and replaced him with Quique Sanchez Flores, a manager they also sacked several years ago.

Gracia, 49, became the first manager to sign a new contract at Watford since the Pozzo family took control in 2012. But the Hornets are bottom of the Premier League table on one point and without a win, prompting the club’s ownership to revert to type.

Did Javi Gracia deserve Watford axe? Five things to know…

  • Gracia was appointed Watford manager in January 2018.
  • Under Gracia, Watford recorded their best-ever Premier League points total (50).
  • They also reached their first FA Cup final in 35 years and only their second in the club’s history
  • But they lost the Wembley tie against Man City 6-0…
  • And the cup focus saw league form dip; Watford have actually won just one of their last 10 league games, losing seven.

Watford have created 41 chances in the Premier League with the 2019/20 season only four games’ old – giving them the best record outside the traditional ‘Big Six’ – but top-line results stretching back to the final third of the previous campaign have cost Gracia his job.

This season, they have been beaten by Brighton, West Ham and Everton before drawing with Newcastle in the most recent top-flight outing.

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

The club also confirmed the departure of Gracia’s backroom coaching staff.

Flores, 54, becomes the 10th managerial appointment overseen by the Pozzo family at Watford.

Quique Sanchez Flores

The Spaniard, whose CV also includes spells at Espanyol and Atletico Madrid, coached Watford in the 2015/2016 season, the club’s first back in the Premier League. The campaign resulted in a mid-table finish and FA Cup semi-final appearance. The decision to let Flores go was described as “sick” by former West Ham manager Slaven Bilic at the time.

“It’s crazy,” Bilic said.

“I’m sorry for Quique. It’s completely wrong, they’ve had a fantastic season.

“As far as I know if someone had offered Watford that… before the season everyone predicted they were likely candidates to go down. Yet they were never in danger and until January or February they were in the top eight, or top 10.

“Add to that they play good football, and add to that they were in the semi-final of the FA Cup, beating Arsenal away.

“They had a great season, the place was buzzing, it was a season to be proud of. It says it’s more important how you finish than how you start but it is nonsense for me. People say it’s common in Europe, it’s common in England, but it’s completely wrong, it’s sick.”

In the Premier League, Watford next face tough games against Arsenal, at Vicarage Road, and Manchester City, away.