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Thursday 13 December 2018

Gracia brushes off questions about his future as Watford boss

Gracia signed an 18-month deal when he took over in January.

Watford manager Javi Gracia saw his side see off Newcastle (Nick Potts/PA)
Watford manager Javi Gracia saw his side see off Newcastle (Nick Potts/PA)

By Nick Purewal

Javi Gracia has vowed to ignore his unsettled future to try to lead Watford to a record Premier League finish.

Watford ended a seven-match winless run with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle that should have proved comfortable but ended nervously.

Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray put Watford in control before Troy Deeney’s missed penalty gifted Newcastle momentum. Ayoze Perez’s fine finish set up a tense finale, but Watford held on to ensure mathematical Premier League survival.

Watford can still beat their best Premier League finish of 13th, leaving Gracia focusing on that aim rather than whether he will still be Hornets boss next term.

Asked how confident he is of remaining in charge next season, Gracia replied: “I don’t know, I think this question is for other people.

“But I’m very proud to belong to this club and today to have achieved mathematically the objective of staying in the Premier League.

“And in the next game I’m concentrated on trying to prove the best position in the Premier League. It’s all I can say in this moment.

“When the season is finished we’ll see what happens.”

Watford will end their season at Manchester United on May 13, in what could yet prove Gracia’s last game at the helm.

Watford have already ploughed through eight managers in five years, but still continued to improve during that time.

Gracia continues to insist he remains unfazed by his precarious position, having only signed an 18-month deal when taking the helm in January.

“We have another important game next against a very good Manchester United team,” said Gracia.

“So we’ll try to enjoy that game and I would like to finish the season with a win.

“We would have killed the game had we scored the third goal.

“But in the second half we showed character, desire and ambition.

“We suffered a lot and we gained the three points, so I’m happy.

“In other games we’ve lost many points, but I’m proud of the players for working, defending and securing the result.”

Newcastle have now slipped to three straight defeats, having sealed their Premier League safety with five games to play.

Boss Rafael Benitez insisted his players remain motivated, but still challenged them to end the season on a high, with Tottenham and Chelsea still ahead.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a question of motivation,” said Benitez.

“We achieved something that was really important and difficult, and with five games to go it was a great achievement. With this in mind the team is working hard.

“We realise we have lost three in a row and we have to react.

“I can say that I was really proud of this group of players. Now I am still proud of them, but I would like to see them win and finish on a high.

“You can see teams trying to avoid relegation now and what it means for everyone.”

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