First Team 31/03/2019

Foster: “We Need To Believe In Ourselves More”

Ben Foster knows a thing or two about top sides – he’s played for Manchester United and represented England at a World Cup after all – so it’s worth listening in when he says the Hornets’ players must believe in their qualities more than they currently do.
There won’t be many teams who go away from Old Trafford with a 20-8 shot tally in their favour and despite ultimately losing 2-1, the goalkeeper believes his teammates need only look at the manner of their performance on Saturday – and countless more over the course of the season – to see just how good they can be.
“Sometimes I think we actually need to believe in ourselves a bit more. We have so many quality players here and I don’t think they understand that we’re a really, really good team,” said Foster.
“We were really good against United. We played some lovely stuff but probably just lacked that little bit of quality at the crunch time.
“At times we were trying to walk it into the goal when maybe we should’ve put it in the box for Troy [Deeney] a bit more than we did, but there’s so much for us to be pleased about after a performance like that.”

Barring the two all-important goals and a couple of chances here and there, Watford largely kept their hosts quiet at the other end too. But Foster concedes United’s clinical edge was the difference.
“To be honest it was one of my quieter afternoons. There wasn’t that much for me to do and I found myself watching on as a spectator for large parts of the game,” he added.
“Credit to United though, they didn’t have many big chances but when it came down to the nitty gritty they took their chances and that’s what we needed to do.”

Fulham visit The Vic on Tuesday, followed by the FA Cup semi-final with Wolves on Sunday, and Foster admits it’s going to be an exciting week for the Hornets.
“This is a really important time for us. We’ve had such a good season so far but we need to keep it going now,” he said.
“We want to finish in seventh or eighth so to do that we need to keep picking up points, starting with the game against Fulham.
“Hopefully we can get back to winning ways on Tuesday and then we’ll start thinking about the cup semi-final on Sunday.”

First Team 30/03/2019

Gracia: “It's Difficult To Explain”

Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below for his thoughts from his press conference.

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia agreed that the defeat at Old Trafford had all the hallmarks of the one at the Emirates Stadium in September.

Like at Arsenal, the Hornets had more shots, more shots on target and forced more corners than their much-fancied hosts and yet somehow returned having conceded two goals and slipped to defeat. Watford at least had the consolation of a goal this time, an excellently created and executed one from Abdoulaye Doucouré, but this performance warranted way more than a consolation. The Hornets played as well here than they have done at any point since they last won in this neck of the woods in 1978.

“It was similar game [to the one at Arsenal],” said Gracia. “We know we have to make the step forward if we want to get points against these teams. I know we are able to get it. We are in the right way. I have that feeling every day in training. They have ambition and I can feel it. These are the games we have to show it in.”

Watford certainly turned up at Old Trafford and you could argue, with some justification, this was their best performance of the season. It leaves everyone feeling extremely positive ahead of a huge week for the club.

“We had a good performance,” said the Head Coach. “It’s true, it wasn’t enough to get the points but I’m happy with the performance. We need to finish better, we need to improve in the last metres. We created chances, we had more shots, more shots on target and more corners. We dominated and played a lot of time in the opposition half. The first goal was a counter-attack and the second was a moment when we played well. But when you don’t kill the game against these teams with high quality, you know you can lose in any moment. We tried until the end. We believed but it wasn’t enough.”

Gracia has given this team an identity and belief that they can come to imposing places like the Emirates, like Old Trafford and give as good as they get. 

“Before the game, we knew it would be a very tough game, but at half-time we spoke about believing we could do it,” said Gracia. “We were dominating the game and I am very happy and proud. It’s true, in the last part of the first half, United created some counter-attacks and that was a moment when the game was open. We took control again in the second half and I’m very happy and proud of my players. It’s just some little details that mean you don’t get the points.

“We took risks, we tried to play offensive and we created chances. The players believed form the beginning. After that you have to show in the last metres, a bit more aggression and be more efficient to finish but the rest of the performance was good.”

The Head Coach again showed the depth of his squad by making five changes. He fielded an entirely new back five (including the goalkeeper) from the quarter-final win against Crystal Palace and yet the performance level didn’t drop at all. If anything, it went up.

“In all the games, I made changes, but I have a good squad,” he said. “I have to choose different players as we have three important games in eight days. I know all of them are ready to play and compete.”