Javi Gracia

After an impressive start to this season, Javi Gracia is currently receiving plaudits for the job he is doing with Watford. But it’s been a long road to the Premier League for the much-respected Spanish coach, who has spent much of his career in his home country.

As a player, Gracia was a defensive midfielder who plied his trade in the top two divisions of La Liga for 15 years and represented numerous clubs, including Lleida, Valladolid, Real Sociedad and Villarreal.

After hanging up his boots at Cordoba in 2004, he kickstarted his coaching career with the youth teams of former club, Villarreal. He accepted his first managerial position with Pontevedra in Segunda Division B, the third tier of Spanish football, but despite finishing top in his first season and as runners-up in his second, both years saw the club defeated in the play-offs.

Seeking a fresh challenge, he finally achieved promotion in his first season as manager of Cadiz. He subsequently coached Villarreal B, before enjoying spells in Greece with Olympiacos Volou and Kerkyra.

Returning to Spain, he guided Almeria back to the top flight through the play-offs in 2013, before moving to Osasuna in the top division. Failing to save his hometown team from relegation, Gracia was subsequently named as the manager of top-flight side Malaga and his two-year tenure helped to build his reputation.

Malaga was a club in decline at the time, struggling under significant financial pressures and the threat of relegation, but his young team proved a revelation, especially against the bigger clubs of Spanish football. He oversaw a remarkable victory over that season’s treble-winners, Barcelona, at the Nou Camp, and held the same team to a draw at home.

Playing an attractive brand of football, he led Malaga to consecutive top 10 finishes in La Liga. After a year in Russia managing Rubin Kazan, he moved to the Premier League for the first time in January 2018, when he was appointed manager of Watford.

Sessions by Javi Gracia

Defending crosses

in Defending

This is a session to improve both individual and team defending when an attack comes from wide and balls are crossed into the box. MORE

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