Gracia: “Deulofeu Has A High Quality”
Javi Gracia says the move to a central striking role has brought the “high quality” best out of Gerard Deulofeu.
Having come through the fabled La Masia Academy in Barcelona predominantly as a winger, the Spanish international has often partnered skipper Troy Deeney through the middle with the Hornets this season.
And Watford have reaped the benefits – Deulofeu has notched 12 goals throughout a productive campaign, his best return since netting 18 times for Barcelona ‘B’ back in 2012/13.
Two of those 12 goals came on that memorable day at Wembley when, after stepping off the bench, the 25-year-old former AC Milan and Sevilla loanee bagged a brace as the Golden Boys came from 2-0 down to reach the final of the most famous cup competition in the world.
Gracia says he sees a player that is flourishing thanks to the support behind him at Watford, with Deulofeu having settled in one position after so many seasons of change in his career.
“He is a good player,” said the Spanish coach. “After that all of us; his teammates, the technical staff, medical staff, all of the workers – we try to help him to improve.
“With him, and with the rest of the players as well, it is our job.
“But the most important thing is the quality of the player. Deulofeu, you know, has a high quality.
“In this moment he is playing in one position more regularly, because in other seasons he has played as a second forward, as a winger, as a striker as well.
“This season he has played more often as a striker, with two up front. He feels comfortable playing in that position with his teammates.”
Gracia is obviously pleased with his compatriot’s evolution in a new position, but as with all aspects of his team he is constantly looking for more, always demanding the very best of his squad.
The former Malaga and Rubin Kazan coach is always looking to improve his players, while showing them he has faith in them. That has been crucial to the strong team spirit that has helped raise levels around Vicarage Road.
“I tell you the secret is the team,” added Gracia.
“Our strength is in the team, and with this squad all of the players can [still] play better.”