Javi Gracia

Watford have confirmed that former Malaga and Rubin Kazan coach Javi Gracia will replace sacked Marco Silva as the club head coach on an 18-month contract.

The Premier League club relieved Silva of his duty on Sunday, after losing 2-0 to Leicester City. The defeat left them with just one win from 11 games in the league.

Watford blamed their decision to sack Silva on Everton’s pursuit of the Portuguese in November as the Merseyside club tried to lure him away from Vicarage Road.

Watford felt that situation caused a “significant deterioration” in their fortunes, a claim supported by the fact that the club has lost seven of the 10 league matches since Sam Allardyce took the reins at Goodison Park.

They have moved swiftly to appoint a successor, with 47-year-old Spaniard Gracia hired with immediate effect.

Gracia’s most notable spell as a coach was at Malaga from July 2014 until May 2016, when he led the club to ninth- and eighth-placed finishes in LaLiga, despite a lack of investment in his squad and turbulence behind the scenes.

Gracia then moved on to Russian side Rubin Kazan, but he left by mutual consent in June 2017 after finishing ninth in his solitary season in charge, with his lack of knowledge of the language said to be major stumbling block.