Javi Gracia says Troy Deeney is entitled to his opinion but reiterated the importance of respecting the fans who Watford strive to “make proud.”

Deeney claimed the opinion of supporters has little impact on him and that fans struggle to understand the game in the same way players do – a stance some of the Hornets faithful took exception to.

While Gracia respects his skipper’s right to voice his view, the Spanish head coach was quick to stress the importance of showing deference towards fans.

“I think everybody has a different opinion and I prefer to respect everybody. For me, the supporters’ opinion is very important,” Gracia said.

“We play and we work for them. We want to make them proud of us and to identify with the club. We have to make a very big effort to make them feel happy and proud of us.”

Deeney’s comments came in the midst of a season in which he has been the subject of criticism from supporters after indifferent form and moments of indiscipline.

He followed them up with an interview on YouTube channel XO in which he took aim at Arsenal and the Emirates Stadium club’s fan base.

The Gunners were riled when Deeney suggested they lacked “cojones” after Watford came from behind to beat Arsene Wenger’s men 2-1 earlier in the season.

That match came well before Gracia took the helm at Vicarage Road and he is keen to leave any existing animosity in the past.

He said: “My player can speak about whatever they want, but always with respect.

"For me Arsenal is water under the bridge and I prefer to speak about who we are playing against.”