Javi Gracia was surprised with dismissal from Watford

Javi Gracia was less than a year into his four-and-a-half year Watford contract

Javi Gracia was less than a year into his four-and-a-half year Watford contract

Javi Gracia described his sacking by Watford as "unexpected" and "abrupt" but insisted he has not fallen out with the club's owners after he was replaced by Quique Sanchez Flores.

Watford sacked Javi Gracia as their head coach because they feared the team had "gone flat" under him and would struggle to climb up the Premier League table.

Last year, Gracia led Watford to 11th and reached the FA Cup final.

The announcements came during the global break with Watford bottom of the English Premier League with one point from the opening four games.

The Hornets made a decision to ditch Gracia on Saturday and opted to re-appoint former boss Quique Sanchez Flores as their new head coach.

Quique Sanchez Flores was Watford head coach during the 2015/16 season
Quique Sanchez Flores was Watford head coach during the 2015/16 season

Losing their first three games set off alarm bells and while there were reports that Gracia was under pressure after the defeat by West Ham, it was actually picking up Watford's first point of the season, away to Newcastle, that sealed his fate.

In a statement released by Gracia, he said: "After the unexpected announcement about the termination of my contract after only 4 matches, I want to express my surprise after completing the best season in Watford's history".

Although Gracia signed a four-and-a-half-year deal only last November, it is understood that there was a fixed compensation payment in his contract.

Gracia says he "respects the decision" and says he is "grateful" for the experience of managing in the Premier League but admitted he was surprised to learn he had been fired. And finally, I want to thank the fans for supporting me the way they did from Day One, until my last. It was said he had lost some of his drive and was struggling to get the best out of the players.

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