London: Four games into the new season, the top of the Premier League already has a familiar feel bar the presence of Javi Gracia’s Watford nestled alongside Liverpool and Chelsea. Tipped for another campaign in which just beating the drop would be deemed a success, the Spanish coach has led the Hornets to a club-record start, winning their opening four top-flight league games.
Such a stunning start — including the scalp of Tottenham in their last outing — has some Watford fans dreaming of following Leicester’s incredible march to the title in 2015/16. But with another of the top-six elite, Manchester United, rolling into Vicarage Road this weekend, Gracia has his feet firmly on the ground.
“I think we are in good form, we are enjoying it, but there will come a bad time when we’ll have to suffer and that’s fine,” Gracia told AFP. “We are a humble team. We have big ambitions, big aspirations, but we know what league we are in. Over the course of the season, the competition will put us in our place. We know that winning the league is not our fight.”
A highly respected coach from La Liga spells with Osasuna and Malaga, Gracia was hired in January to ensure an alarming slump in form did not turn into a relegation battle.
Survival was secured, but a run of just one win in Watford’s final nine games of the campaign did not hint at greater things to come, particularly when Brazilian international Richarlison was sold to Everton. Unlike in previous years under Italian owners the Pozzo family, there was no revolving door of new arrivals for Gracia to work with.