Football

Newly appointed Gracia aims to restore Watford’s confidence

Restoring confidence will be the key to getting Watford back to the fine form they enjoyed at the start of the English Premier League season, new manager Javi Gracia said.

The 47-year-old Spaniard was appointed on an 18-month contract on Sunday, hours after the sacking of Marco Silva.

The Hornets were fourth in the EPL after eight matches, but Gracia takes over with them 10th in the table, four points above the relegation zone, following a run of 11 defeats in 16 league matches since.

"The most important thing at this moment is that the players recover confidence because they have played very good matches this season and they can do it again," Gracia, who became Watford's 10th manager since 2012, told the club's website.

"Confidence, work hard and the results will arrive. The most important thing is to listen. I have plenty of energy to win the rest of the matches."

Ex-Villarreal midfielder Gracia impressed as a coach when he led Almeria to promotion to La Liga in 2013, before taking over at Malaga after a short stint with Osasuna.

He secured back-to-back top-10 finishes in La Liga while in charge of Malaga from 2014-16. He joined Rubin Kazan the following season, but left last June after leading them to a ninth-placed finish in the Russian top flight.

Speaking in broken English, Gracia hinted that he would bring a Spanish style to Watford.

"It's easy to say Spanish football because the national team and big clubs in Spain win many competitions," he said.

"It is not easy to arrive now when the league has started, but it is our work. You must be ready. Watford called me and I am grateful."

Gracia's first matches in charge of Watford will be away to Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday and away to Stoke City in the EPL on Feb 1 (Singapore time).

His team selection will be hampered by a spate of injuries, with Younes Kaboul, Miguel Britos, Nathaniel Chalobah, Will Hughes, Tom Cleverley and Isaac Success all sidelined.

"I know many players because I have seen all the matches of Watford this season. I know we have many injured players now and we will try to recover all of them, and try to make a good team," Gracia said.

- REUTERS

Football