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Watford sacked Javi Gracia in front of Unai Emery

Javi Gracia, Watford
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Arsenal manager Unai Emery revealed that he was with Javi Gracia in Spain when they discovered that Watford had fired the latter.

After failing to register a single win in their opening four Premier League games, Watford sacked Gracia during the international break. It came just a week before they were set to host Emery’s Arsenal at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets then announced the reappointment of Quique Sanchez Flores, who previously coached the club during the 2015/16 campaign.

For Gracia, however, the dismissal came as a complete shock for him and his coaching staff. Considering that the Spaniard led Watford to an 11th-place league finish and the FA Cup final last season, he expected more time.

Instead, the former Osasuna and Malaga cruelly discovered his fate during a chance encounter with his close friend, Emery, in Spain.

“It’s amazing,” Emery said on Gracia’s sacking.

“I met him, we found each other last week in my town, in Hondarribia, when I was there with my family.

“I was walking and in front of us was Javi Gracia.

“And in the moment we started speaking about our match, and we finished it knowing he was sacked. It’s a good story, yes?”

Emery and Gracia, of course, go way back having once played alongside each other at Real Sociedad in the 90s.

And now the Arsenal boss revealed that he even turned to his old friend for advice on signing up at the Emirates Stadium in 2018.

“When the possibility opened up to sign here, the first coach, the first person in the football world I called was him,” continued Emery.

“I asked him some questions about the football here, the clubs, Arsenal and he recommended to me that I come here.”

Emery added: “He is a very good coach, as he showed last year in Watford. The club decided [to part company with him] and I have to respect that.

“He is going to work and he is going to continue his career like he is, like a great coach.”

The Watford and Arsenal match starts at 17:30 (CET) this afternoon.

Unai Emery, Arsenal
BARCELONA, SPAIN – AUGUST 04: Manager Unai Emery of Arsenal looks on during the Joan Gamper trophy friendly match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal at Nou Camp on August 04, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)