What are Watford doing?
Have Watford panicked?
It’s been a difficult start to the Premier League for the Hornets.
Watford and Wolves are the only two clubs in the top-flight without a win this season.
Indeed, Watford are bottom of the standings with one point from four games.
That point came in their last match; a 1-1 draw away at Newcastle United.
However, on Saturday night, Watford confirmed that they’d sacked manager Javi Gracia.
Moreover, Quique Sanchez Flores has returned to Vicarage Road, after he left the club back in 2016.
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Javi Gracia had no idea he’d be fired before Arsenal
Next Sunday, Watford host Arsenal in the Premier League.
Arsenal are fifth in the division.
As confirmed by The Athletic’s Adam Leventhal and Adam Crafton today, Javi Gracia had no idea that he’d be fired before the Gunners game:
Gracia took training at Watford’s London Colney training ground on Friday as normal, said goodbye to the players and wished them well for their weekend off, expecting to see them early on Monday morning to continue preparations for the game at home to Arsenal on Sunday.
▪️What Flores said when he left #WatfordFC in 2016
▪️Player reaction to Gracia’s sacking
▪️Why the club decided they had to act@AdamLeventhal and @AdamCrafton_ with the definitive behind-the-scenes story of Javi Gracia’s sacking and the return of Quique Sanchez Flores.
— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) September 8, 2019
Why Watford sacked Javi Gracia
In the Sunday Times, reporter Jonathan Northcroft has offered a few reasons for why Watford sacked Gracia this weekend.
Watford’s recent record is poor. The Hornets only have one win in their last 11 matches.
However, results are only part of the reason for Watford acting so decisively. The Sunday Times reveal:
A flat atmosphere at the training ground has been noted by the club’s leadership, with Gracia being seen as having lost his impetus.
Yet, the bigger issue seems to be that Watford were fearful that Gracia could oversee an even bigger downturn in form:
Watford perceive themselves as capable of becoming established as an upper-mid-table Premier League club and should not be fighting relegation. The decision to replace Gracia is being taken with the aim of avoiding the latter.
Watford’s compensation revealed
Of course, Watford’s decision to sack Javi Gracia will cost them.
Last season, Watford agreed a four and a half year contract with the manager.
Returning to The Athletic, the cost of Gracia’s sacking is assessed:
It is likely that there was a break clause in that contract but the cost of removing Gracia and his staff — including Inigo Arteaga, Juan Solla, Jesus Casa and Zigor Andrade — may still be as much as £8 million, sources said.