Watford had Marco Silva's replacement in mind before they gave the Portuguese the boot this morning, and they have now appointed Javi Gracia for the rest of the season and next.

Gracia has been without a club since he left Rubin Kazan in the summer, and has been learning English for some time, to a level where it is understood he will carry out his media duties in the language.

A defensive midfielder by trade as a player, Gracia enjoyed his best spells at Athetic Bilbao and Real Sociedad - but what about his managerial credentials?

A spell of eight clubs in 10 years does not make for fantastic reading, but will not upset Gino Pozzo, who is not known for his longevity in his choices.

Gracia's style cannot be pigeon-holed one way or another, other than to say he is a workaholic coach who is renowned for his man-management skills and attention to detail with players.

But he is also one who works with the resources he is given. Malaga had been Champions League quarter-finalists only a couple of years before he took the job, but in the intervening time had seen their assets stripped away and had only three players left from those heady days - and a squad predominantly home-made and Under-24.

That is how Gracia is happy to operate - he doesn't need money, he doesn't need new faces, he makes do with what he's got.

“My vision has to be young players that we can develop to build a better team," he said while still at Malaga. "My objective is not to develop players to sell, it’s to develop players to have a better team. But if with time, teams come and pay for them, they’ll go. That’s not my objective, [but] there are others who tell you that."

He led Malaga to back-to-back top-half finishes, which were a real exercise in tactical nouse. They scored just 38 goals in 38 games during his second season, conceding 35 - less than every team other than Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Don't let that scare you, though. Gracia's teams have always proved hard to beat, but have generally been high scoring.

They do not have a set style - Gracia chooses horses for courses, and builds his teams around being solid out of possession - but counter-attacking football is certainly the order of the day.

His training as an anchorman is certainly key for the Spaniard in his tactical philosophies. Malaga side were the only side to go undefeated against Barcelona during his first campaign, where Messi and co won La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey. In the second, they did the same against Real Madrid - and it cost them the title.

In two league games against Gracia's Malaga during that first season, Barcelona managed just three shots on target, and deservedly lost 1-0 on their own patch.

In what will be music to the ears after Watford's defensive struggles this season, their success came from superb organisation and belief in the system they were playing in.

He said afterwards: "We did not want to have five or six players strung across the back.

"We worked on a line of four in a central zone, moving in a synchronised way, and I think we managed it well.

"We could not leave a lot of space behind our backs, or let them run, to find spaces between the lines. Because then their quality appears, in one-on-ones or with space, their front three are unstoppable.

"First you must believe in what you do. That is the most important thing. I tried to make them see they had some chance in the game. And it went well, thanks to the supernormal effort made."

His tactical flexibility will prove another plus point to fans and board alike - Gracia switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 the moment Barcelona's team was announced ahead of that win at the Nou Camp, but even with an hour's notice his players knew what they had to do and acted out his plans to perfection.

A season with Kazan was ill-advised as he went from one club in turmoil, in a culture he knew, to another in one he didn't. But he has shown he sees a life outside Spain with roles in Greece and Russia, with England set to follow this week.