Gracia new coach for Spanish club Valencia

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Spanish club Valencia hired former Watford coach Javi Gracia on a two-year deal on Monday.

Valencia, which finished ninth in the Spanish league this season, praised the Spaniard for being a “proponent of attacking football.”

“I’d like this great squad that we have to be a brave, aggressive and balanced side. In the end, we like talking about good football and attacking play, but the success of teams really comes through having balance,” Gracia said. “I’m sure that the fans will feel very proud of their team and they will feel represented.”

Valencia had finished fourth in the league in the last two seasons, both times securing Champions League berths. It was as high as fifth place this season, but a poor late run ended its chances of reaching European competitions.

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Gracia was with Watford until last year, leading the club to the 2019 FA Cup final and to an 11th-place finish in the 2018-19 English Premier League — its best ever.

The 50-year-old former defensive midfielder previously coached Rubin Kazan and Málaga, among other clubs.

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