WATFORD have awarded manager Javi Gracia with a new four-and-a-half-year deal after a fine start to the season – having been among the contenders to become the first Premier League boss sacked this season.
The Spaniard was only contract until the end of the campaign but will stay on after guiding to the Hornets to ninth in the Premier League.
PA:Press Association4 Gracia was out-of-contract at Watford in the summer
Gracia was the third favourite to be the first top flight boss dismissed this term but has turned around the fortunes of the Vicarage Road club.
He told the club's official website: “I am very happy to extend my contract.
“I am very proud in this moment to be part of this club and to belong here for more seasons.”
Chairman and Chief-executive Scott Duxbury, added: “We are delighted that Javi has agreed an extension to his contract.
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Reuters4 Only Mourinho and Puel were above Gracia in the sack-race betting
“From day one it was clear that Javi worked well with us and shared our vision of how to achieve success for Watford Football Club, and we are looking forward to continuing that work together for many years to come.”
After losing half of the 14 games the 48-year-old took charge of last season, Gracia was among the contenders to become the first Premier League boss to lose his job.
Only Jose Mourinho and Claude Puel were above him in the betting.
But half a dozen league wins, four of which were claimed at the very start of the campaign, sees Watford in the top half.
AFP or licensors4 Gracia cut a dejected figure during the start of his Watford tenure
The highlight of the season thus far came courtesy of a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in September.
Despite being on a three-game winless run, Gracia is optimistic over what the future holds.
The ex-Malaga boss added: "I think in this moment, this team is doing a lot of things well, but they know that being demanding, we can improve and compete better day-by-day.
"That's our target, to be demanding and to be ambitious.
Reuters4 But victory over Tottenham has helped turned the club's fortunes around
"We don't know what target we can achieve, but I believe in this group of players and I think we will be able to give our supporters something to enjoy with our play and our results as well."