The simple but highly effective management style of Watford boss Javi Graciaby Andy Dillon / 23 March 2019, 15:18Tweet
Javi Gracia is taking Watford to Wembley. He is also leading the club in a whole new direction with a management style that is simple but highly effective.
Quietly spoken is an understatement for this whispering Spaniard who has found a way to keep 26 testosterone-fuelled egos under his control and putting the Watford cause above all else.
It’s a remarkable thing that Gracia has been slowly instilling at Vicarage Road since January 2018. To see his team eighth in the Premier League with a better away record than Arsenal this season is impressive proof that what he does works.
Gracia should define man-manager. The people alongside him at the club point to how he is able to tailor his methods with each of his players like a lion tamer who knows how far he can push each of his wild beasts without getting hurt.
It’s what PR companies pay fortunes for and what is sadly lacking in many British workplaces - yet Gracia does it without referring to textbooks or manuals. It is just his way.
Troy Deeney has scored only nine goals this season for Watford yet he is now regarded as a true captain of the club in every sense. Not so long ago there were suggestions he was on his way - now he talks freely about setting appearance records.
Gracia has worked out that with Deeney, you never tell him he is doing enough. You only have to look at the guy play, check his back story and listen to him talk to appreciate there are no frills here.
Keeping Deeney believing that he could still deliver that little bit more keeps him hungry. It’s not considered wise to hang around peckish lions for obvious reasons but with Deeney it keeps the guy wanting more, believing that he can get more out of himself.
Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a slightly edgy Troy Deeney at their club barrelling into defenders and leading the line with bared teeth?
Midfielder Etienne Capoue gets different treatment. It has recently been revealed that the French midfielder actually doesn’t like football. It’s his job and nothing else.
At home he chills out watching NBA and reckons 11-a-side football gives an individual too many places to hide if they can’t be bothered to lift a leg.
Gracia has somehow made football not seem like a chore to Capoue. Everybody gets bored with their job at some point. To Capoue, football can seem like the daily grind, the drudgery of the commute.
Yet Gracia has got him working overtime and throwing his body in front of everything and everyone. Watford have got the player that Tottenham thought they had but couldn’t tap into.
Insiders tell you that Gracia is smart enough to know when to back off too. Roberto Pereyra has played in the Champions League final for Juventus.
Watford’s manager doesn’t need to tell him how to play football.
Jose Holebas had a kid at 18 and worked extra shifts in a factory to make ends meet while he slugged it out trying to make it as a footballer. Germany born but Greek by nationality he knows more than enough about life not to need advice from anyone.
With a further mix of younger players and experienced heads like Tom Cleverley, Gracia is getting a lot out of a squad regarded by Watford’s top brass as the best they’ve ever had.
They can always get more of course but an FA Cup semi final and top ten in the Premier League isn’t a bad return.
The most charming thing about Gracia though is that he doesn’t shout about it - in actual fact he doesn’t shout about anything.