Watford manager Javi Gracia believes his team’s fine start to the season owes to the club finally finding some stability – even though he has warned his players to prepare for when their results decline.
They host Crystal Palace on Sunday hoping to maintain the winning start that has so far featured impressive victories at Burnley and over Brighton.
Gracia has reshaped his team since the departure of Richarlison to Everton, and done so with the advantage of being Watford’s first manager since their promotion in 2015 to end one season and start the next.
Quique Sanchez Flores succeeded Slavisa Jokanovic after that promotion before being replaced by Walter Mazzarri less than 12 months later. Marco Silva followed Mazzarri in May 2017 but lasted only seven months, and since then Gracia has had a greater chance to build.
Watford also did not spend the summer buying and selling numerous players as they had before the Spaniard’s arrival, and he said at a press conference of their new approach: “It will be better to start with the coach you know from the last season. You don’t need time to adapt to new things, new training, new situations.
“To do a good job in pre-season was important to have the possibility in these games to compete at the level we did.
“The spirit is important; we create a style of play where the players feel comfortable, where they feel part of something. We’ve created an atmosphere and we are showing all our features.
“It is always important to start well. We have played only two games and they are two important wins, but it’s only two games. It’s only the beginning.
“It’s a good moment for us, but I know we need to keep calm and know bad results will arrive in the future and it will be better to arrive there with not only good results, but having created something we can believe in.
“The most important thing is the quality of players. I cannot tell you if in two or four games we may change.”
Gracia is therefore expected to retain strikers Troy Deeney and Andre Gray following the return to fitness of Stefano Okaka, and praised midfielder Will Hughes – who has gradually improved since the 48-year-old’s appointment in January – as “a different player”.
“We don’t always depend on the strikers to score goals,” he said. “We have players like Roberto Pereyra and Will Hughes to score goals as well. We know Troy is very important for us, scoring or not scoring.
“I know (Hughes’ quality) and I knew it from the first day I saw him. You can see he is a different player, a high-quality player, always with a big commitment with the team. He has a lot of ambition.”