Reaction: Ismaël On QPR Win

By: Watford FC Staff

Valérien Ismaël shared his thoughts following Watford’s opening-day 4-0 win over QPR, with goals from Tom Dele-Bashiru, Imrân Louza, Matheus Martins and Vakoun Bayo ensuring his side got the 2023/24 season off to the perfect start.

Covering a range of topics, including the Hornets’ overall performance and individual displays, read what the Head Coach had to say below…

On what pleased him the most:

As a coach you never know what can happen in a game, but I knew the guys were ready to go. I told them to show up with the right attitude and intensity, and I was delighted with what they came up with.

The way we scored the goals was great, because it’s what we’ve been working on throughout pre-season. Everything was strong – the players’ positioning was great, and we attacked and defended together as a unit. Everyone had a role to play, including Dan Bachmann in goal, and in and out of possession the guys executed the plan perfectly.

I think it was the perfect start, not only because of the result but also because of the attitude we saw from the players after seven weeks of hard work behind the scenes. Hopefully the result will help us build some momentum now.

On preparing his squad for matchday one:

Today’s starting XI were all here last season, so today’s performance shows they are willing to do things better and that we’ve got the quality we need. It was only at the very start [of pre-season] that I saw some of them show a bit of a lazy attitude, and after that it never happened again. We’ve made it clear why they do the job, and they understand now that if you respect the rules and are committed you can get the rewards.

The players have to take credit. When we spoke to them they all recognised that what they were doing before was not enough, and they were all willing to do better. They understand now that it’s all about hard work every day, as much as performances and results. They’ve put in the work for seven weeks, and we’ve seen the reward today.

With our style of play, that’s also something we’ve implemented over the last seven weeks. We played some really strong sides in pre-season and they struggled to deal with our build-up, and that gave our players lots of confidence. You never know how things are going to go in the Championship, but I think you saw today that the players believe more and more in our methods.

On Louza:

I think all the players played at a high level today, and for Imrân I think the important thing is that he’s had a full pre-season this year. Last year he missed a lot of the summer with injury, and for a player like him it’s important he’s fit.

This year he made all the training sessions, and you could see straight away the difference. He’s confident in his body, and when you’ve got that it’s easier to show your quality. He had a great game today.

On Francisco Sierralta:

We knew he would be effective [in a defensive midfield position] because we saw it throughout pre-season. It’s an important role because with the likes of Imrân Louza, Ismaël Koné, Giorgi Chakvetadze and Tom Dele-Bashiru we have lots of creativity higher up the pitch, but you have to match that with stability.

At the start of pre-season we didn’t have a player who could do that, but we tried some different things and we quickly realised Sierralta knew what we wanted. Week after week he improved, and he gives us lots of options now. He’s enjoying the position, and he was integral to our performance today.

On Giorgi Chakvetadze:

From the moment he stepped on the pitch everyone was buzzing about his performance. The feeling we’ve got with him is that we’ve got a very special player, and that he gives us more options in the midfield because he is able to play in different positions. We’re all looking forward to seeing more from him.

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