Gracia On Fixtures: “Starting At Home Is The Best News”
Within an hour or two of their release, Javi Gracia walked through the club’s London Colney training base carrying a freshly-printed list of Watford’s 2019/20 fixtures, already colour coded and annotated with his own handwritten notes.
Such is the Head Coach’s attention to detail that Gracia is wasting no time in ensuring appropriate plans are put in place now the Hornets know where the Premier League schedule will take them and when.
Once again, Brighton are to be the first challengers, visiting Vicarage Road on the opening day for the second season running, having fallen foul of two Roberto Pereyra goals last time around.
That win set Watford on course for a formidable 100 per cent start after the first four fixtures had been played in 2018/19 – Burnley, Crystal Palace and Tottenham also defeated – and Gracia is setting his sights on another strong start when August comes around.
“We are excited,” he said, speaking to watfordfc.com shortly after today’s 9am announcement.
“I’m looking forward to the first game. It will be the same as last season against Brighton and we will try to prepare for that game during the whole of pre-season, trying to start the same way we did last season.
“We knew already we would have to play against all the teams but now when I see the schedule my first impression is good. I’m happy and I’m looking forward to the games.”
Never shy in citing the advantage he believes his players gain from playing in front of Watford’s home crowd, Gracia is particularly pleased the Hornets’ campaign will – for the third year running – commence on familiar ground.
“I think it’s the best news for me – to start by playing at home. Playing at Vicarage Road with our supporters is the best news for us,” he said.
Not even four weeks have passed since the final whistle sounded on Watford’s 2018/19 season, but Gracia admits his mind turned immediately to the next campaign as soon as last month’s FA Cup final was over.
And preparations will gather pace over the coming weeks as the Spaniard and his staff ensure they’re ready for what will be an important pre-season period in July.
“We still have time to rest a little bit and to prepare more things but when you finish one season, from the next day you start to think about the next season,” he said.
“It’s our lives, our passion. You are already speaking about players, taking an interest in other competitions and thinking about the international players you have playing in different games.
“This morning I was waiting for the moment when we could see all the fixtures and you are always thinking about the games, about your rivals, about the team, and trying to find a way to prepare as well as possible during pre-season for all the games we are going to play.”
Fresh from a break in his native Spain, Gracia’s return to Hertfordshire has coincided with the onset of some typically British weather, not that he’ll allow a bit of wind and rain to hamper pre-season plans.
“I’ve been in Spain with the sun so now I’m not so worried about the weather,” he smiled.
“There will be good days and not so good days – just like in other countries, even Spain – but when we start to work, in that moment we only are focused on our job.”