The Spaniard was relieved of his duties as the Hornets’ manager just four games into the season.
Arsenal’s manager Unai Emery has stated that he was with Javi Gracia whilst discussing the plans for their upcoming encounter when they learnt the news of Gracia’s ouster as the head coach of Watford.
Emery and Gracia were teammates and Real Soceidad and have seemingly maintained a close bond ever since. Watford sacked the 49-year-old last weekend after a poor run in the first five matches of the season. The Hornets had lost three of their games so far, yet the decision comes as a surprise as it has been merely a few months since Gracia led the club to the FA Cup final.
Quique Sanchez Flores was named as the replacement. The former right-back returns to the club as the manager after a span of three years when his previous tenure concluded. However, Gracia had met Emery at their hometown Hondarribia when the announcement of his dismissal from Vicarge Road broke out.
Emery said: “It’s amazing. I met him, we found each other last week in my town, in Hondarribia, when I was there with my family. I was walking and in front of us was Javi Gracia. And in the moment we started speaking about our match, and we finished it knowing he was sacked. It’s a good story, yes?
The Spaniard had some good words to say about his former teammate too. He remarked: “He (Javi Gracia) is a very good coach, as he showed last year in Watford. The club decided, and I have to respect that. He is going to work and he is going to continue his career like he is, like a great coach.”
Watford ended with an 11th place finish in the previous season and was defeated by Manchester City in the finals of the FA Cup. Their remarkable run in the cup competition should have allowed Gracia to buy some time in the job despite an arguably disappointing start to the current season. However, the impatience of the board was on display as they were quick with their decision-making and the declaration of Quique Sanchez Florez as the new head coach as well.
When asked about the same, he said: “I remember it. Every coach, every player, every person in football remembers some things. I remember we drew 2-2 at home and we drew 0-0 away. In the last minute the referee did not give us an amazing penalty for the opportunity to win. In my way, everything that happened to me is something to learn from, for experience.
“Sometimes it’s positive, at the moment more positive, but also negative. I learned from it all.”