Javi Gracia reveals Rafa Benitez relationship - and has THIS warning for Watford ahead of Newcastle trip
Watford boss Javi Gracia has praised the 'very good' Rafa Benitez - and has opened up on his previous history with the Newcastle United boss.
The pair were foes when Benitez managed Real Madrird, with Gracia leading his Malaga side to an unlikely draw at the Santiago Bernebau.
But their relationship preceded this meeting, with Gracia having fond memories of Benitez's time managing his hometown club - Osasuna.
And while the 48-year-old narrowly missed out on being coached by his fellow countryman, he is still able to appreciate Benitez's 'great coaching ability'.
“I know him [Benitez] a long time ago,” said Gracia, speaking as his Watford side prepare to travel to St James's Park.
“He trained my hometown team Osasuna and he is a coach with a lot of recognition in England and Spain.
"Everybody knows he is a great coach. He always shows it at all the teams he has been.”
And with a great coach at their helm, Gracia knows that Newcastle will prove a tough test for his Watford side - despite a winless start to the campaign.
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Indeed, the manager has warned his players to expect a difficult afternoon on Tyneside where Gracia knows a vocal Newcastle support could have an impact.
“They are a good team, they have a very good coach,” he added.
“They are looking for their first win, they are working very hard to try to get it and we need to be ready for a difficult game, for a tough game.
"All the games they are playing they are playing with the option to get a better result. I am sure in the next game they will try again.
"They are a good squad, a good team and we are focused on this game as we know it will be a tough game.
“We'll see the atmosphere there, but I'm sure their supporters back them and our supporters back us.
“The most important is what happens on the pitch. We try to manage the different moments, but I'm sure both teams play their best and we try to get a good result.”