October 23, 2019, 6:11

Unai Emery bumped into Javi Gracia when Watford sacked him

Unai Emery bumped into Javi Gracia when Watford sacked him

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has revealed he was with Javi Gracia in his hometown, discussing Sunday’s upcoming match against Watford, when they learned he had been sacked.

Watford took the decision to part company with Gracia last Saturday, just five games – three of which ended in defeat – into the new campaign, and five months after he led them out at the FA Cup final.

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Gracia was quickly replaced by Quique Sanchez Flores, making his return to Watford three years after his departure from Vicarage Road.

Unfortunately for Gracia, the news of his sacking coincided with the chance meeting of his close friend, Emery, in Spain.

“It’s amazing,” said Emery. “I met him, we found each other last week in my town, in Hondarribia, when I was there with my family.

“I was walking and in front of us was Javi Gracia. And in the moment we started speaking about our match, and we finished it knowing he was sacked. It’s a good story, yes?

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“He is a very good coach, as he showed last year in Watford.

“The club decided, and I have to respect that. He is going to work and he is going to continue his career like he is, like a great coach.”

Emery may have to reconsider his approach for Sunday’s trip to Watford with a new man in charge of the Hornets, but he is familiar with Sanchez Flores.

Emery’s Valencia were knocked out of the Europa League at the quarter-final stage in 2010 by Sanchez Flores’ Atletico Madrid – the eventual winners of the tournament.

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“I remember it,” he said. “Every coach, every player, every person in football remembers some things. I remember we drew 2-2 at home and we drew 0-0 away.

“In the last minute the referee did not give us an amazing penalty for the opportunity to win. In my way, everything that happened to me is something to learn from, for experience.

“Sometimes it’s positive, at the moment more positive, but also negative. I learned from it all.”

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