Why Chelsea want Javi Gracia revealed by Watford star in Mauricio Pochettino comparison
No wonder, then, the Watford manager is the surprise name Chelsea are giving serious thought to as they mull over whether to sack Maurizio Sarri.
Not least because Capoue feels that it is Gracia’s ability to pull together a dressing room riven with splits that sets the 49-year-old apart from most of the people he has worked with.
“All coaches are different but he is one of the best coaches I have had,” Capoue said. “He is up there with Deschamps and Mauricio Pochettino.
“He tries to understand you and he shows you he does understand you. He brings confidence to every player in the team. So everybody pushes for the club and pushes for the coach.
“He really unifies the dressing room. From the start of pre-season he does so many things to build team-spirit. I cannot really tell because of the secrets of the dressing room, so I don’t really want to talk about it. But he challenges us to be unified group.
“He has a big impact at half-times, too – every speech he makes.”
Gracia uses the same personal touch that won Deschamps the World Cup and has taken Pochettino one game away from winning the Champions League – although given the relative resources, the Spaniard’s own achievement in getting the Hornets to Wembley for Saturday’s FA Cup final should also not be underestimated.
“The coach gave me the freedom to do what I do and I have enjoyed it,” Capoue said. “He is a very good coach mentality and he talks to you as a friend.
Javi Gracia has led Watford to the FA Cup final
Etienne Capoue puts Javi Gracia up there with Mauricio Pochettino
“That’s true of every player. He tries to put everyone on the same page and that was the thing this season he created a very good atmosphere between us.”
Despite his benign smile, you would be wrong to mistake Gracia for a soft touch. Certainly, he read the riot act on Sunday when West Ham beat them 4-1 in their Cup final warm-up game – and not for the first time this season.
“When we are not doing what he wants, it is understandable,” Capoue says. “When we are not working just one week until the game, he feels so frustrated and so he just told us to wake up.
“When you do badly, he cannot be happy – he is a human, when you are not happy you have to release what you want to say. If ever he is angry he is doing it in the right way. He has never actually broken anything, but you know to be careful!”
Etienne Capoue has hinted why Chelsea are interested in the Watford boss
Generally, though, Gracia is mild-mannered man with an appropriately run-of-the-mill career behind him.
A dozen years in the unfashionable quarters of Spanish football together with spells in Greece and Russia have left him without a serious trophy to his name.
Nevertheless, he has plenty of ambition – although he is careful to play that side of his nature down.
“I don’t know how important it is for me to win something,” he said. “We are finishing the seasons and it would be amazing to feel happy and all the people around me. The workers and all the supporters.
Express Sport understand Javi Gracia is being eyed by Chelsea
“That is more important than my career – I am not interested in that. I am not worried about anything or my future. I just want to enjoy every day. Because your career as a manager depends on your last result.”
Nobody at Watford needed to be reminded of that when they appointed Gracia as their eighth manager in seven years in January 2018.
“I did not think about that,” he said. “It was an opportunity for me. It was the chance to be in the Premier League.
“After that, I was confident that with me, it would be different and I could do something that changed the behaviour of that club with the managers.”
Javi Gracia hinted that Watford are set to offer Heurelho Gomes a new deal
Win the FA Cup and he could be around a good while yet. Unless, of course, Chelsea have other ideas…
Garcia refused to confirm whether Heurelho Gomes would keep his place in goal ahead of Ben Foster, but he hinted the Brazilian could be offered a new deal.
“I would like to speak with him and the club and see if he is able to carry on next season, we have to speak about that,” he said. “As for the keeper on Saturday, I don’t like to speak about it.
“I only focus on the game and try to choose the best keeper for the game, after that we will see what happens in the future.”