Gracia: “For The First Time We Didn't Compete At The Same Level”
Watch Javi Gracia's full post-match interview above.
Javi Gracia held his hands up and admitted his team were not at the races for possibly the first time time on his watch.
The Hornets lost back-to-back home Premier League matches for the first time since May 2017 when they were thumped 4-0 by Bournemouth this afternoon, but it was not just the size of the defeat that hurt, it was the manner of it. The Golden Boys were a shadow of the side who had pushed Arsenal all the way the previous week and were on a slippery slope before Christian Kabasele was sent off just past the half-hour mark with the score at 1-0.
"It was a bad day today," said Gracia. "It was the first game where we haven't competed at the same level as other games. We didn't start well. Bournemouth played much better than us at the beginning of the game, winning all the challenges, winning the second balls.
"We created some chances with Craig [Cathcart], and had some shots, but after the sending off, the game was very tough for us. We tried to score, but then we conceded another goal and then it was very strange and very tough for us."
The Golden Boys were unrecognisable from the side that had recorded thrilling wins over Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Tottenham, and the same one that could, on another day, have won games against Manchester United, Fulham and Arsenal. Prior to today they had restricted their opponents to just 19 shots on target, which was the second best in the league, but Bournemouth had 10 on goal today and could have scored more than the four they got inside 47 minutes.
"Today we conceded more chances, we made more mistakes than in all the games together," said Gracia. "Maybe it was because we played 60 minutes with 10 men and maybe because we conceded early. After that the players maybe felt more pressure and more anxious. It was a bad day and we need to improve and come back to the level we have before."
Indeed they do because it is a high-riding Wolves team up next and the Hornets will go to Molineux without the suspended Josè Holebas and Kabasele. Holebas will miss out because he has collected five yellow cards, while Kabasele will be banned for one game following his sending off for two yellow cards.
"I prefer not to say anything about the referee because we have a lot of things to improve before we ask about the referee," said the Head Coach. "Maybe I agree or disagree with some decisions, but I prefer to speak about us and be more demanding of ourselves."
Gracia knew how Bournemouth would play. He knew they would try to get down the sides and play on the break, but his side just did not cope with it and were rocked after falling behind after just 14 minutes. They never recovered.
"We knew how Bournemouth would play," said Gracia. "But in the beginning, we could feel how they were wining the first balls, all the second balls and we didn't feel comfortable in that moment. We couldn't score and after that [early] goal it was more difficult. It was impossible to have good feelings and good sensations during the game."
Nobody saw this result coming, especially Gracia. If anything, you fancied the Golden Boys to dish out a hiding as it had been coming.
"We started [the season] really well, with good results and even the games before today with not so good results, we still had good feelings without exception," he said.
"Today has been different. We need to know why we didn't and try to improve. After eight games, I can say for the first time we didn't compete at the same level. It's only one day and I'm sure in the next game we will come back to our level. We will have two weeks to prepare better.
"Today we have to learn that if you don't compete at the best level then you are not able to win any games. I'm sure for the next game the players will know this."