There is only a fence that separates our London Colney training base from Watford's - while the respective head coaches are bound by history.
Unai Emery and Javi Gracia were team-mates at Real Sociedad in the 1995/96 season, so what are the former's memories of the latter?
This is what Emery told the media on Friday:
on playing with Javi Gracia...
In 1995/96, [I played with him at] Real Sociedad for one year. I knew him there, as a player and team-mate. As a coach he's very competitive. He is improving and he is growing up in football with this mentality. He's very competitive and here, I think Watford is starting the season very well because they are playing very well. Tomorrow is, for us, a big challenge to overtake him in the table and win against him. But I know before that it's a very difficult match and for them also, it's one very, very big challenge. We are excited and I think they are excited for the 90 minutes we are going to play tomorrow.
on Gracia being unknown in England previously and whether he looked at him to learn about English football...
Yes, maybe here there are not a lot of coaches knowing about Javi Gracia's work, but in Spain lots of respected coaches do. Every team [of his] are very organised and here I think he is improving also with their best players and with this organised idea with quality players like they have. I think he is doing a very good job. For me, every coach in England - Spanish coaches, French coaches, English coaches - I learn the conditions with these coaches. I watch every match learning things in the 90 minutes with them. Like Javi Gracia, I think I can learn with him too.
on Troy Deeney's comments about this squad last season...
I think it's a big match and a rivalry match tomorrow. They want to win against us with good things tactically and good things also individually. But we know, tomorrow we need to play and we need also in the individual duels on the pitch, to win step-by-step in the 90 minutes so we can impose our ideas, our job and our moment physically on the match. They are a team with very good players, very competitive and with the duels they are a very hard team.
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