January 22, 2018 / 1:03 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Watford's Gracia aims to restore confidence

LONDON (Reuters) - Restoring confidence will be the key to getting Watford back to the fine form they enjoyed at the start of the Premier League season, new manager Javi Gracia said.

The 47-year-old Spaniard was appointed on an 18-month contract on Sunday hours after the sacking of Marco Silva.

The Hornets were fourth in the Premier League after eight matches but Gracia takes over with them 10th in the table, four points above the relegation zone, following a run of 11 defeats in 16 league matches since.

“The most important thing in this moment is the players recover confidence because they have played very good matches this season and I think they can do it again. Confidence, work hard and the results will arrive,” Gracia told the club’s website.

“The most important thing is to listen. I have plenty of energy to win the rest of the matches.”

Gracia secured back-to-back top-10 finishes in La Liga while in charge of Malaga from 2014-16. He joined Rubin Kazan the following season but left last June after leading them to a ninth-place finish in the Russian top flight.

Speaking in broken English, Gracia hinted he would bring a Spanish style to Watford.

“It’s easy to say Spanish football because the national team and big clubs in Spain win many competitions,” Gracia said.

“It is not easy to arrive in this moment when the league has opened, but it is our work. You must be ready. Watford called me and I am grateful.”

Gracia’s first matches in charge of Watford will be away to Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday and away to Stoke City in the Premier League on Jan. 31.

His team selection will be hampered by a spate of injuries, with Younes Kaboul, Miguel Britos, Nathanial Chalobah, Will Hughes, Tom Cleverley and Isaac Success all sidelined.

“I know many players because I have seen all the matches of Watford this season. I know in this moment there are many injuries and we will try to recover all the players and try to make a good team,” Gracia said.

Reporting by Matt Westby, editing by Ed Osmond

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