First Team 11/08/2019

Cathcart: “They Were Clinical & We Weren’t”

By Kevin Affleck

Craig Cathcart started the match by winning his first three duels with Glenn Murray, including a meaty first exchange with his wily opponent. It was difficult to imagine at that embryonic stage that Cathcart would be part of a reinforced defence that would concede three goals, but that's what transpired on an afternoon where precious little went right.

"It was something we didn't see coming," said the defender to Premier League Productions. "We came in fully prepared to give our all and give a good show and we are very deflated. But it’s early doors and we need to pick ourselves up pretty quickly."

The first and second goal definitely fell into the soft category while the third was the sort any side concedes when chasing the game. It was all very unlike a side coached by Javi Gracia.

"We’ll have a look in the week and see what we did well and didn’t, but it’s a hard one to take, especially being at home in the first game," said Cathcart. "We are disappointed and we’ll have a look and try to learn from it. 

"It was just one of those games. We felt in the game in the first half, but just the final ball let us down. We had a chance and if we had taken it that might have changed things completely, but we are disappointed with the goals we conceded. They were clinical and we weren’t and sometimes that is how football goes."

This defeat will cut the team deep and there is likely to be a bit of soul-searching early in the week, but then the squad will regroup, go again and seek to put things right at Goodison Park on Saturday.

"We can’t look at this game too much," said the Northern Ireland international.

"We have to pick ourselves up and move on. We have lots of players to come in, pick us up and push to the lads to be better. We look forward to doing better next week."

First Team 10/08/2019

Gracia: “A Good Wake-Up Call”

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia offered no excuses for the heavy defeat at home to Brighton and vowed to get to the root of what went wrong and put it right.

The Hornets suffered their first defeat in 13 opening day games and it was an afternoon when nothing really went right. The Head Coach was not about to slap polish on a bad performance.

"Many things [went wrong], not only one," said Gracia. "We need to improve and maybe this is a good wake-up call for the rest of the season. The best news is that it's the first game and we have a lot of time to improve. Today there were no excuses. They played better than us, they deserve the three points and they got the result they deserved."

Gracia batted away any suggestions that his players were under-cooked. He had them fully prepared, fully briefed and ready to go.

"All the players were training hard during the 40 days, 42 sessions and seven games," he said. "In the first game, I have no doubt about that [we were ready]. I think they always have the desire and the ambition to win and to do their best. We conceded the first goal, the second one the same and it was tough for us. We had some chances but we didn't deserve a better result.

"I think we can improve collectively. The first two goals came from two individual actions. We have to do better to improve these actions if we want to have options to improve our results. All of us are disappointed today but I prefer to wait, to trust we'll be able to do it better in the second game. I prefer to focus on that."

Brighton were excellent and executed the game-plan of their new coach Graham Potter to perfection. The last-ditch tackles of Lewis Dunk summed up their desire to leave Vicarage Road with all three points.

"They were playing well in pre-season," said Gracia. "We knew the shape they played today was three at the back. We knew it because the last game against Valencia they played the same way and they only changed one player. They played better than us and it was too late for us to improve. We we will be able to in the future."

Gracia was asked if it would be tempting to integrate new signings Ismaïla Sarr and Danny Welbeck quicker into his plans than he had anticipated after that shock result.

"I always like to speak about the players who have played in this game and not miss the players I don't have," he said.

"We didn't play well and we need to improve. The best way is to try and improve with what we have and I'll chose the best option we have in the next game. The solution for today is with the players I have ready for the next game."