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Tuesday 25 September 2018

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 fans have seen their club make another managerial change (Steve Paston/PA).
Watford fans have seen their club make another managerial change (Steve Paston/PA).

By Phil Medlicott, Press Association Sport

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

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

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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’

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Lionel Messi and Barcelona had trouble against Gracia's Malaga in 2014-15 (Mike Egerton/EMPICS).

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

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.

Press Association

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