Watford head coach Javi Gracia is in no doubt fellow Spaniard Rafael Benitez will have Newcastle all set to kick-start their Premier League campaign when they clash at St James’ Park.
While the Hornets have secured a best-ever start to a top-flight season and sit in seventh place, the Magpies find themselves scrapping for points at the other end of the table.
Benitez’s side have yet to deliver a victory this season, but earlier this month showed what they are capable of when racing into a 2-0 lead at Manchester United.
While working in LaLiga, Gracia’s Malaga left Real Madrid with a creditable draw during September 2015, not long after Benitez had been appointed.
The pair renewed acquaintances in their Premier League clash towards the end of last season, when Watford beat Newcastle 2-1 at Vicarage Road.
Gracia is fully aware of what to expect when they meet in the dugout again on Saturday.
“I know (Benitez from) a long time ago. He trained my hometown team Osasuna. He is a coach with a lot of recognition in England and Spain,” the Watford boss said.
“Everybody knows he is a great coach. He always shows it at all the teams he has been.”
Gracia added at a press conference reported on Watford’s website: “They are a good team, they have a very good coach.
“Newcastle 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.”
Gracia takes his side up to Tyneside on the back of a 3-0 win over Huddersfield, which saw Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu produce well-taken goals before a late effort from Isaac Success.
The Hornets boss knows his team must maintain their cutting edge in attack, while also nullifying Newcastle’s threat in front of their own vocal supporters.
“We try to always improve in all the different moments of the play,” Gracia said. “We try to improve defence and attack, and this case it is no different playing against Newcastle.
“The way and style they play, we will look for a way we can beat them and find the key.”
Gracia is expected to agree a contract extension, having settled well since his arrival in January.
“I am grateful from the first day, I am happy here and we’ll see in the future if we can stay more time here,” he said.
“I don’t need a new contract to do my best. I can feel the love from the club, the supporters, the players, the workers. I feel really happy here.”
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