Javi Gracia Out, Quique Sanchez Flores In: Here’s what the Spaniard has been up to since his first Hornets spell

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 07 September 2019, 19:44

Within 30 minutes of Watford's decision to make Javi Gracia the first victim of the 2019/20 Premier League Sack Race, the top-flight's basement club revealed that a familiar face had returned in the other direction: Quique Sanchez Flores.

Sanchez previously oversaw Watford for the duration of the 2015/16 season, during which the club finished 13th upon their return to the Premier League, and enjoyed a run through to the FA Cup semi-finals.

Just over three years later and the 54-year-old is back at his old stomping ground with a week to prepare for his opening game against London rivals Arsenal, as Watford go in search of their first league win of the season having registered just a point from four games under Gracia.

So, what's Sanchez been up to since leaving Watford? We take a look…


A few weeks after a clause in his Watford contract had been activated, Sanchez was unveiled as the new head coach of Espanyol - his fifth job in Spain - on a three-year contract.

"Espanyol is proud to incorporate a successful and prestigious coach to lead the first team in this new project," the club stated upon his arrival.

Sanchez joined a club that had only just stayed in the Spanish top-flight the previous season, but within a year Sanchez had led his troops to 8th spot, their highest finish in six years. However, the following season he was axed in April 2018 following a run of four defeats in five matches.

A few months after leaving Espanyol Sanchez was placed on a four-man shortlist for the Egypt job, however it was Javier Aguirre who bagged the job.

Shanghai Shenhua

Half-a-year after missing out on the Egypt job, he returned to management over in China with Shanghai Shenhua - a club who had previously been managed by the likes of Gus Poyet, Nicolas Anelka and Howard Wilkinson - who appointed him on Christmas Day 2018.

Six months and 17 competitive games later and Sanchez had resigned from his post with his side third from bottom in the table, and just one point and one place above the relegation zone.

Back at Watford

Sanchez, who is popular with the Watford faithful, will no doubt feel he has unfinished business at the club. During his first tenure he enjoyed an average of 1.18 points per league game, Watford's joint-best Premier League managerial record alongside Gracia.

It’s difficult not to feel a shred of sympathy for the departed Gracia but with a popular former manager back at the helm fans will hope he can kick-start their stuttering season.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Paul Cook
Paul Cook
(Wigan Athletic)
1st August
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