Watford replace Gracia with former boss Sánchez Flores
Photo by Getty Images/Oli Scarff

Watford have parted ways with manager Javi Gracia, choosing to replace the Spaniard with a compatriot of his and a former Hornets manager, Quique Sánchez Flores.

Since his appointment in early 2018, Gracia steered the club clear of a relegation dogfight and later went on to achieve their best ever Premier League finish and points haul alongside reaching a first FA Cup final in 35 years.

However, a run of just two points from eight games at the end of last season and the beginning of this campaign has been a cause for concern, with Watford rooted at the bottom of the table heading into the first international break.

As such, the Pozzo family moved to ensure the departure of Gracia, and secured his successor in swift fashion. Just half an hour after the announcement, another arrived confirming former boss Sánchez Flores had been reappointed.

The 54-year old lead Watford in their inaugural Premier League season in 2015/16, overseeing an impressive 13th-placed finish and also reaching a Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium. But, like his predecessor, a poor run of form towards the end of his tenure saw his time at Vicarage Road end promptly.

However, after spells with Espanyol and Shanghai Shenhua, Sánchez Flores returns to Hertfordshire and is tasked with rescuing the squad from the rut in which they currently find themselves.

An excellent servant

Even after the turbulent and almost bitter ending, it would be naive to denounce Gracia's career at Watford and all he achieved for the club.

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The FA Cup run will truly live long in the memory, and he is the joint-most successful Premier League manager for the Hornets in terms of points per game - alongside Sánchez Flores.

But quite aside from the on-field triumphs, Gracia embraced the club, its ethos and its fans with dignity, integrity and complete professionalism, and this was perhaps his greatest and most-appreciated accomplishment.