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If the transfer rumours of the ongoing January window were not explosive enough, Watford decided to drop a bomb by sacking Marco Silva and appointing Javi Gracia as the new manager. Having headed teams like Malaga and Rubin Kazan in the recent past, the 47-year-old Garcia will now be faced with the gargantuan task of rejuvenating the Hornets’ performances. Currently gracing the 10th spot, Watford are 4 points away from the dreaded relegation zone and if they are to finish strongly, they desperately need to recapture their initial form.
When this season commenced, Watford were touted as the team to watch. After Walter Mazzarri’s ineffective displays, Silva seemed like a breath of fresh air. He took charge of the club last May and revamped the side completely. He even brought in the young Richarlison, who has proven to be quite a stunner in the ongoing campaign. Things were going extremely well for the Hertfordshire club as they steadily climbed up the table and even broke into the top-six.
Watford’s displays were confident, strong and commanding enough to let the Premier League big boys know that they were not a side to be underestimated. However, then came news of Everton harbouring an interest in the dynamic Silva and, as per latest reports, that is what led to the 40-year-old’s decline. The same article also goes on to state that Silva’s focus wavered as he started receiving greater attention and that eventually led to a massive shift in priorities.
How much truth there is to that claim, we will never know. But one thing is for sure – the Hornets may not get a manager as aggressive and raw as Silva in a long, long time. The way he improved their attack to ensure fluid yet pacy movement in the final third truly helped them but to be fair, the club’s performances did deteriorate as time went on. However, many people are of the opinion that the management sacked Silva a little too soon.
He showed a lot of initial promise and vision and that itself was a welcome change for scores of Watford fans. Gracia, in contrast, looks hardly as exciting. He enjoyed a wildly successful tenure at Malaga as he helped the club finish in the top-half consecutively between 2014 and 2016. But his performances were built around a stoic defence and intense discipline. He is not known for attacking displays or exciting link-up play but his tactics do provide room for building a defensive fortress that is tough to break down.
Where Silva brought in exciting football, Gracia will bring in effective yet not-so-exciting football. In the grand scheme of things, the only thing that matters is whether or not Watford would finish as strongly as they started. With the new Spanish manager, they might finish in a safe spot but that might come at the cost of their ambition of a higher finish.