Gracia: “Good Results Are Important For Confidence”
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia readily conceded his team were outmanoeuvred in the first half against Real Sociedad but was pleased with the way his side adapted in the second and now feels they are in decent shape ahead of the Premier League opener.
The Spanish outfit, coached by his friend and former teammate Imanol Alguacil, were the better of the two sides in the first and deservedly had their noses in front at the break thanks to a penalty from Mikel Oyarzabal.
But Gracia rallied his side at the break, reinforced a few things, tweaked a couple of others and the Hornets were then able to gain more of a foothold in the second period, drawing level through Andre Gray and then winning it with another from the striker three minutes from time, taking his tally to four in pre-season.
“Real Sociedad played better than us,” said Gracia. “In the first half they played much better. Maybe in the second we controlled the spaces better, we competed better but always it is good to compete against teams like Sociedad with a high level. It's important to get good results for the confidence of our players. The best thing is we have the possibility to improve many things. I am sure we will do it.”
The team certainly won't be undercooked against Brighton on Saturday. They've been doing double sessions most days and then were given a real test of their technical and physical ability against Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, Queens Park Rangers and now Sociedad.
“We started on July 1 and I'm really pleased with all the different moments with games against teams with a high level,” said Gracia. “They were good for us, all tough games. I prefer to play against these teams and it was good for us to have these experiences. We are now ready to compete.
“The players are working really well. Real Sociedad had only 17 sessions before the game and maybe never had double sessions. Maybe now they are fresher than us but it's not important to just be fresh for the first game. I think we have a long season to play and we are in the right way.”
While Sociedad emptied their bench in the second half, Gracia opted to make just two changes, bringing on Tom Cleverley for Ken Sema and then Daryl Janmaat for José Holebas.
“We trained yesterday and played a game at the training ground,” he said. “Some players played 90 minutes and I prefer to give importance to the minutes than substitutions and the solution to play better. The main objective today was the amount of players playing 90 minutes.”