'Javia Gracia deserves to start next season in charge'

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Watford finished their home campaign with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at Vicarage Road. Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray’s first-half goals put them in control, despite Troy Deeney missing a penalty.

5th May 2018

Rafa Benitez’s side dominated the second half, scoring through Ayoze Perez, but the Hornets held on to secure their first victory since defeating West Brom at the start of March.

Pereyra made the difference

Pereyra was Watford’s Man of the Match and the Argentine attacker provided the main creative outlet for the hosts. As well as scoring the opener, Pereyra also delivered the cross for Gray to net a rare effort for Watford.

Pereyra has not always excelled for the Hornets but his form in the last few months has suggested the best is still yet to come from him in England. He has shown flashes of quality and needs to produce on a more regular basis, but there is no doubting his talent.

It has probably taken a while to recover from his long-term injury last season and positive things can be expected from the 27-year-old next season.

Welcome win eases pressure on Gracia

Make no mistake – this was an important victory for Javi Gracia. Nothing has been announced regarding his future but if Watford has lost to Newcastle it would have probably sealed his exit this summer with a defeat widely expected at Manchester United next weekend.

This result took his record to 15 points from 13 league matches. Unspectacular form maybe, but the Spaniard has had to manage without key players such as Gerard Deulofeu during the run-in.

I think he has done enough to warrant starting next season in charge. Whether or not he gets that opportunity remains to be seen, especially with Watford’s track record of replacing head coaches.

But Gracia came into a challenging situation and has steadied the ship even if the team's away form still has to be improved. He also needs to find a way to enhance the team’s attack because 11 goals is a poor return.

It would seem harsh if he was dispensed with after less than half a season in charge but at Watford that’s nothing new.

Tough to replace Doucoure

Abdoulaye Doucoure was named Players’ Player of the Year on Saturday and the French midfielder will be extremely difficult to replace if as expected he leaves this summer.

Doucoure is the club’s top scorer with seven goals this season and his performances have been consistent even if his best form came in the first half of the campaign.

The midfielder has been linked with a host of leading Premier League clubs and there is no doubt in my mind he can play at a higher level. To me, his box-to-box ability looks ideally suited to Arsenal and the Gunners could do a lot worse than move for him.

It seems inevitable he will move on but Watford should be able to secure a big profit on him and it will be another example of the club’s successful recruitment policy. 

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