Watford's trigger-happy owners can enter into a new era of managerial stability under Javi Gracia

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 03 September 2018, 10:19

STABILITY has been a banned word at Watford for the past few years.

A deliberate policy of back ‘em then sack ‘em left the club in a constant state of flux. Five managers in less than four years makes alarming reading even in this day and age of rapid managerial turnover.

The latest sitting duck in the firing line, Javi Gracia, has guided the club to its best ever start to a Premier League season, culminating in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Tottenham.

The scenes in the bowels of Vicarage Road afterwards were joyous and heartwarming to see as Spurs’ stream of stars trudged onto the bus with tails firmly between their legs.

Defender Jose Holebas has played under the last three managers and should be used to the comings and goings up top by now.

But he made no secret of the fact that the players are now settled in the Premier League, accustomed to its pace, fully briefed on the quality of opposition and able to adapt to different opposition.

Yet the key ingredient he says is letting the manager do his job, leaving him in peace to build a team that from the weekend’s evidence looks capable of a top ten finish based on team spirit alone if not technical wizardry.

Gracia is just eight months into his role as Watford head coach. By their standards he will soon be up for a long service award.

You’d think that five wins in five games to start the season makes him safe from harm but there is no telling what the volatile Pozzos will do given their past form.

On Sunday Gracia was not just able to put out a team which could defy and frustrate Tottenham’s subtleties with bruising defiance but also to go on the offensive in that old fashioned way called route one football.

Skipper Troy Deeney admitted afterwards that the only reason Watford had not taken the lead in the first half was because they tried to ‘out football’ Tottenham. A big mistake.

Gracia showed his true managerial credentials by getting into his players at half time and forcing them to adapt back to what they do best, muscle out the oppo.

The result was two set-piece goals that left Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino in an absolute rage and already writing off his team’s chances of winning the title.

In just five months’ time Gracia will become the longest serving Watford boss since Gianfranco Zola, who lasted 18 months.

While Watford should be proud of recent achievements that is a shaming statistic. And the problem is that if Gracia continues on his upward path as a fine, young manager, he will soon get noticed by rival clubs.

The hair-trigger Pozzos can only blame themselves if he jumps ship at the first opportunity to better himself. Loyalty should be a two way street.

Gracia is one of the quietest men on the circuit. There is a sense that beating Tottenham’s squad of World Cup stars will mean the same to him as beating Reading in the EFL Cup four days earlier.

There’s nothing wrong with quiet. It’s about time Watford’s owners made a bit less noise and let the football do the talking.

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Michael Collins
Michael Collins
(Bradford City)
3rd September
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