Gracia calls for fierce support
Javi Gracia has urged the fans to get behind Watford in Saturday's home Premier League clash against West Ham United.
Having finished 11th in the league last season as well as reaching the FA Cup final, in which they lost 6-0 to Manchester City, Watford were being tipped as contenders to break the top-six dominance in the 2019/20 campaign.
The Hornets spent a club-record £27million to sign Ismaila Sarr from Rennes this summer, while Craig Dawson, Joao Pedro, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Danny Welbeck were all added to the ranks.
Importantly, the Hertfordshire-based outfit managed to keep hold of former France Under-21 international Abdoulaye Doucoure, who was a key target for both Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League rivals Everton.
Optimism was high ahead of the opening weekend but back-to-back league defeats has left Spanish maestro Gracia, who has been in charge since arriving in January 2018, with work to do ahead of Saturday’s clash against West Ham at Vicarage Road.
A 3-0 thumping at home to Brighton, who are now under the guidance of Graham Potter, in the first game was a real shock to the system for Watford, while the 1-0 defeat to Marco Silva’s Everton at Goodison Park last time out has done little to raise spirits.
Gracia admits his side need to up their performance if they are going to turn things around but he is hoping for a raucous atmosphere when Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers turn up.
“This moment is when I’m sure the supporters will be supporting the team and helping the team because it’s the moment when we need them,” he said. “I know first of all they have to see the commitment of the team and the team really focused and playing with that passion.”
Watford are the walking wounded going into the encounter and are without captain Troy Deeney, midfielder Doucoure and forward Roberto Pereyra, who are all sidelined with their respective injuries.
Gracia could make changes to his starting XI with one of those being midfielder Tom Cleverley, who came on as a second-half substitute in that defeat to the Toffees last weekend.
With English striker Deeney the latest player to join the treatment room, compatriot Andre Gray is expected to replace the skipper in the line-up while Dutchman Daryl Janmaat could come in at right-back for Kiko Femenia.
The Hornets have won five Premier League matches against West Ham, more than they have against any other side, but they lost the corresponding fixture 4-1 last season. Greece international Jose Holebas was sent off early in the second half for a professional foul, although the red card was later rescinded.