Gracia: “It's Our Mentality To Be Demanding”
Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below for his thoughts from the press conference.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia said he was “proud” to be in charge of the team who have recorded the club's best ever start to a top-flight season, but insisted he will not spend too long admiring the view from seventh place and is already plotting how the Hornets can kick on from here.
The Golden Boys now have 19 points from 10 games, which eclipses the 17 points they had pocketed from the same stage of the 1982/83 season. The Hornets finished second that season under the late great Graham Taylor, and while not even the most die-hard Watford fan expects this lot to match that achievement, Gracia will be plotting the club's highest ever Premier League finish.
“It was important to win the game today and proud to get that achievement, but I prefer to think only of the next game,” he said. “I don't spend much time looking at the table. That is not good for us. It is better to be focused on the next game and try to do our best.
“I don't think we will be the champion. We are going to enjoy every game and make the supporters proud of us. We'll see what we are able to do. In all the games, I am sure we are going to make a big effort to get the best results.”
Watford are certainly doing their best right now and killed the game with Huddersfield stone dead with two first-half goals in fairly quick succession.
“It was like the game versus Wolves when we scored two in the first half,” Gracia said. “Today it was something similar.”
Watford did not have things all their own way and Gracia was magnanimous enough to admit he had his goalkeeper to thank for ensuring they did not fall behind before they got their noses in front.
“It's true, in the first half, Huddersfield had two or three good chances to score. In those moments Foster kept us in the game,” said Gracia. “We have to be demanding and this wasn't our best game.”
Watford scored three goals out of the top drawer, the first two the result of the individual brilliance of Robert Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu, while the third was the upshot of some well-spent hours on the training field. All three could well feature in the club's Goal of the Season compilation – and Gracia knows which one he would vote for.
“I prefer the last one,” he said. “We were able to have a good free-kick, with three good passes and then Isaac was able to score his first goal [of the Premier League season]. I prefer always the collective rather than individual actions. All of them were amazing.”
The third pleased Gracia the most because he sets so much stall by the team's set-piece work.
“We have tried many times [to do this] and today we scored,” he said. “I am very proud of it as set-pieces are so important. Huddersfield have scored four goals this season and all of them from set-pieces. Today we have defended well against this team with players of 1m 92, 1m 93, 1m 95 and 1m 97. It was very demanding for us [from set-pieces].”
Keen to focus on the whole rather than some of the high-calibre individual parts, Gracia did acknowledge how “the actions” of Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu “changed the game” and what a fitting reward Isaac Success' goal was for his hard work in the summer months when the foundations for the season are laid.
“Isaac was working very hard before coming [back for pre-season],” said Gracia. “He was fit, he was ready to play and he has been waiting for his moment, his chance, and now he's showing his level. I don't think there is a secret or something special. It is about hard work and being patient for his chance to play.”
Will Hughes had a period last season when he had to bide his time, but he's now locked down the position on the right-hand side of the team and there were more chants of ‘Hughesy for England’.
“If you ask my opinion, I agree,” said Gracia, when asked about Hughes' international credentials. “I respect the decision [of Gareth Southgate] but all I can say is that I am supporting them. Will Hughes will be ready. He is playing well and at a high level. All my players deserve to play with their national teams.”
Adrian Mariappa is a Jamaica international and he has shown in the last two games just how dependable he is. He has been recalled to the heart of the defence and captained the side to back-to-back 2-0 wins.
“He is always an example for rest of the players,” said Gracia. “He's always ready. If you play him right-back, centre-back or left-back, he's always ready with a smile on his face, always trying his best to help everybody. It's a pleasure to have players like Mariappa.”
The team now face successive away games against Newcastle and Southampton and that is as far as Gracia is allowing himself to look. He has been around too long to start getting ahead of himself.
“I prefer to enjoy every game,” he said. “I am very demanding and the best way to achieve a good future is to focus on the present and do our best. It's our mentality to be demanding. I don't send much time looking at the table or if we achieve a new record. We have many things to improve. This way the owner, the supporters and the players will be happy and proud of us.”