Watford have revealed Everton’s approach for Marco Silva was a major factor in his dismissal after appointing Javi Gracia as his replacement at Vicarage Road.
Silva, who joined the Hornets from Hull only last summer, was given his marching orders by the club’s hierarchy on Sunday after the 2-0 defeat at Leicester.
The 40-year-old enjoyed a strong start to his tenure at the Hertfordshire club, winning six of his opening 13 league games, but his side’s form dipped following the approach by the Toffees after they sacked Ronald Koeman.
The Portuguese repeatedly dismissed suggestions that his head had been turned by the Merseyside club, but Watford claimed the “unwarranted approach” was the “catalyst” behind their decision to sack him.
“(The approach) is something which the board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised,” the club said in a statement.
“For the security and success of the football club, the board believes it has to make a change.”
Gracia replaces Silva after he agreed an 18-month contract at Vicarage Road. His first game in charge will be against Southampton in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.
The 47-year-old former Malaga head coach is the 10th manager to be appointed by the Pozzo family since their takeover at Watford in 2012.
Gracia, who has been out of work since he departed Russian club Rubin Kazan last June, will take the reins of a Watford squad which has won just one of their last 11 matches in the Premier League.
The Spaniard, who played for Real Sociedad and Villarreal, achieved successive top-10 finishes for Malaga during his two seasons in charge of the Spanish club.
He also oversaw Almeria’s return to Spain’s top flight before a stint in charge of Osasuna. He left Rubin Kazan by mutual consent after they finished ninth in the Russian Premier League last year.
Gracia is Watford’s fourth manager following their return to the Premier League in 2015. Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked after a year despite guiding the Hornets to the semi-final of the FA Cup, while Italian Walter Mazzarri was also given only a season.
Silva is the latest to be fired after serving just six months in charge.