Watford sack Gracia, re-hire Sanchez Flores
Javi Gracia has said he was surprised by his "abrupt" sacking as Watford manager after leading the Premier League club to their highest finish last season.
Watford, who have one point from four matches, dismissed Gracia on Saturday, bringing an end to a 20-month tenure during which he helped them finish 11th last season and reach the FA Cup final. He was replaced by fellow Spaniard Quique Sanchez Flores.
"After the unexpected announcement about the termination of my contract ... I want to express my surprise after completing the best season in Watford's history," Gracia said in a statement released to the British media.
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"I'm grateful to this club for allowing me to manage this great club in the Premier League, it has been an incredible experience, with very special moments like the FA Cup final I had the privilege to enjoy."
Flores' first game in charge during his second spell at the club will be against Arsenal on Sunday.
Watford have appointed former boss Quique Sanchez Flores within minutes of announcing the sacking of head coach Javi Gracia.
Garcia has left the club after a poor start to the Premier League season, with the side bottom of the table.
Watford's only point so far this season came in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle last weekend, following defeats against Brighton, Everton and West Ham.
Sanchez Flores returns to Vicarage Road, having lead the club to a 13th place finish during the 2015-16 Premier League season, when he also reached the semifinal of the FA Cup before he left his post at the end of the campaign.
Sanchez Flores replaces Gracia, 49, who joined Watford in 2018, guiding the team to the final of the FA Cup last season before ultimately losing 6-0 to Manchester City.
"Javi has represented Watford with great dignity and will always be deserving of our fullest respect for his achievements," Chairman and CEO Scott Duxbury said in a statement.
"Javi Gracia's staff will also be leaving the club, ahead of the imminent appointment of a new coaching team.
"Everyone at the Hornets wishes Javi and his staff all the very best for the future, and they will always be welcome visitors in the future at Vicarage Road."