Gracia: “It's Something Amazing For Us”
Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia felt the togetherness of the club, from the fans to the players, to the substitutes, got them over the line against Crystal Palace and into the semi-final of the FA Cup.
Étienne Capoue put Watford on course for a date at the famous old stadium with a goal just before the hour, but then the Golden Boys made heavy weather of things in the second half and the game was very much in the balance when Michy Batshuayi equalised following a mistake. But then the team came again, got a second wind and won it with a goal from substitute Andre Gray, who again brought the house down with a winner off the bench.
“It’s our strength, our solidarity, our behaviour as a team [that is important],” said Gracia. “I spoke with them before about playing as a team, always playing as a team and that we are stronger than them if we play as a team. We can achieve important things for the club [if we play like that]. If we don’t, then you don't have any chance.”
The fans also played their part, creating a pre-match atmosphere rarely seen at this famous old place in recent seasons. They were also in full cry at the end, singing rendition after rendition of “Javi Gracia, he drinks sangria,” and “que sera sera”.
“I tried to enjoy that moment,” Gracia said. “I don’t like the attention as I am focused on the pitch and on the game, but I’d like to thank them for all their support. In this moment, when the team was suffering in the second half, they were very important. Today we are all very proud of our players.”
This group will go down as the seventh in the club’s storied history to reach the semi-final of the FA Cup, following on from the Class of '70, ‘84, ‘87, ‘03, ‘07 and ‘16. Gracia will want more, much more, but for now he was content to reflect on the achievement of making the last four.
“It is amazing for all of us, for the players, staff and supporters,” he said. “It is an important day to have the chance to enjoy a semi-final, we are keeping the same level, competing well and that it is our target in this moment.”
The Spaniard agreed that it wasn’t all plain sailing.
“It was a difficult moment [when Crystal Palace equalised], a mistake when we conceded but I was confident we would be able to win the game,” he said. “We tried to be aggressive with the ball, as soon as possible. We did it but in the second half they played much better, had more possession and we had to defend more times in our half. We didn't have the same control as we had in the first half. Without the same control, we were able to manage the game and the second goal was the moment we killed the game.”