Gracia: “I Can't Be Disappointed With My Players”
Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia agreed that his Watford team paid a heavy price for failing to translate the number of chances they fashioned, particularly in the first half, into something tangible.
The Hornets banged on the creaking Newcastle door 13 times in the first half, despite not being at their best, and hit the crossbar in the second half through Roberto Pereyra, also missing the chance of the match late on through Stefano Okaka. But, just like at Fulham and just like at Arsenal, the Hornets were punished for their wastefulness and ended up with diddly-squat.
“If you don't score and don't kill the game then things happen like today,” said Gracia. “There were a lot of players with clear chances. We have dominated the first half, much better than in the second. It is difficult creating chances at Newcastle, but we have created lots of chances today. How many players had good chances to score? Stefano, Roberto, Mariappa, Gerard and Isaac. My feeling is we shot more on target [than just once] but yes, we had many chances, from different situations. It is difficult to understand, to accept the result.”
Even though the Hornets were not as good in the second half as they were in the first, Gracia said he could not be too harsh on his players. He said he could not fault their application.
“I can be disappointed with the result, but I can't be disappointed with my players,” he said. “In the first half we created more chances, not just chances, clear chances to score. Different players had different situations. We need to be demanding with ourselves to improve. I think we are in the right way.”
Gracia felt his side did not do too much wrong and the one gripe he had was allowing Newcastle, who have been poor defensively from set-pieces this season, to score from a free-kick. He also felt he made the right decision in recalling José Holebas for Adam Masina.
“We thought the characteristics of José were better to play today, but not because Adam plays better or worse,” he said. “Everybody knows Adam is a very good player. I am very happy with him.”
Holebas marked his return from suspension by picking up a sixth booking in nine games, but Gracia does not want to dull the left-back's edge.
"It is sometimes difficult with José, but he has the experience and he knows different situations. Sometimes he wants to help the team in critical moments and is not easy to contain. He is always very polite.”
Gracia could certainly not be accused of going all out to try and salvage a point. He threw on Stefano Okaka, Andre Gray and left Isaac Success on in a bold formation. It almost paid off.
“In that moment, we thought we needed more players in front ready for the attack,” said the Head Coach. “Stefano had a good chance to score, but he has had a long period out of the team and a long period injured.”