Javi Gracia has said he is 'surprised' at the club's decision to terminate his contract earlier this weekend, but says the decision won't taint his relationship with the club or the fans.
Watford's announcement that they had parted company with Gracia and replaced him with Quique Sanchez Flores seemed to come out of the blue amid the lull of an international break, after they had brought a run of three successive defeats to an end with a Carabao Cup victory over Coventry and a battling draw at Newcastle.
However, despite coming off the back of an historic 11th-placed finish in the Premier League and an FA Cup final, the board were reportedly concerned about the mood in the dressing room, and moved on Saturday to remove Gracia from his post.
In a measured statement on his departure, Gracia said while he is surprised to have been relieved of his duties so early in the season, he respects the decision and remains grateful to the club for his 18 months in charge.
"After the unexpected announcement about the termination of my contract after only four matches, I want to express my surprise after completing the best season in Watford's history," his statement reads.
"I respect this decision and I'd like to reassure the excellent relationship I have with (Watford owner) Gino Pozzo and Filippo Giraldi, and this is not going to change despite my abrupt exit of the club.
"I am grateful to this club for allowing me to manage this great club in the Premier League, it has been an incredible experience, with very special moments like the FA Cup final I had the privilege to enjoy.
"I want to thank every single person who works for this club and has made my every day very easy. My gratefulness and love for this club will be eternal. And finally, I want to thank the fans for supporting me the way they did from day one, until my last. I will always wish the fans and these players the best."