Javi Gracia has some connections with Rafa Benitez going back to the mid-90s.
As a player, Gracia left Real Valladolid just before Rafa took on the La Liga club as his first management job.
Only 23 games and two win later, Rafa was sacked.
The now Newcastle manager’s next job was in the Spanish second tier and Javi Gracia remembers Rafa Benitez taking over his hometown club Osasuna.
Worse was to follow for Rafa, sacked after only nine games and one win that time.
It was then an upward curve for Benitez with Extremadura and Tenerife, before then five years after being sacked by Osasuna he found himself taking over at Valencia and the rest as they say is history.
Javi Gracia says ‘Everyone knows he (Rafa) is a great coach – he always shows it at all the teams he has been.’
Despite Newcastle still not having won a game after 12 weeks, the Watford boss says it will be a ‘tough game’ and that he’s sure Newcastle’s fans will still back the manager.
Like Rafa Benitez, Javi Gracia sees his contract run out at the end of the season and everybody is waiting to see what he will do, however, the Watford manager declares ‘I am happy here and we’ll see in the future if we can stay more time here. I don’t need a new contract to do my best.’
Watford tend to get some decent managers (Silva, Flores, Mazzarri, Jokanovic) but the way the club is run, they tend to have a quick turnover, with five including Javi Gracia in the last three and a bit years.
Indeed they have had four different ones since Rafa Benitez arrived at Newcastle.
Rafa desperately needs a victory tomorrow but with the form (19 points from 10 games) Watford are in under Gracia, Newcastle need to step up their game and find some goals from somewhere.
“I know Rafa Benitez a long time ago, he trained my hometown team Osasuna and he is a coach with a lot of recognition in England and Spain.
“Everybody knows Rafa Benitez is a great coach – he always shows it at all the teams he has been.
“Newcastle are a good team, they have a very good coach.
“They are looking for their first win, they are working very hard to try to get it and we need to be ready for a difficult game, for a tough game. All the games they are playing they are playing with the option to get a better result. I am sure in the next game they will try again.
“They are a good squad, a good team and we are focused on this game as we know it will be a tough game.
“We will see the atmosphere there but I’m sure their supporters back them and our supporters back us,
“The most important is what happens on the pitch. We try to manage the different moments, but I’m sure both teams play their best and we try to get a good result.
“We try to always improve in all the different moments of the play. We try to improve defence and attack, and this case it is no different playing against Newcastle.
“The way and style they play we will look for a way we can beat them and find the key.
“I feel better when my supporters are happy. This is the best signal for me.
“It is November and there are a lot of games left and we need to continue in the same way. If you don’t keep your attitude, your play, it’s difficult to get good results.
“I am happy here and we’ll see in the future if we can stay more time here. I don’t need a new contract to do my best.
“I can feel the love from the club, the supporters, the players, the workers. I feel really happy here.”