Gracia: “Results Matter But It’s Not The Most Important Thing”
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia was able to look beyond the result and see the bigger picture after his side opened their pre-season campaign with defeat against Ajax.
Pre-season opposition does not come much tougher than the Champions League semi-finalists, but the Hornets played with remarkable cohesion for a side who fielded two different XIs for each half. Andre Gray put the Golden Boys ahead from the penalty spot in the first half, but Ajax levelled through Donny van de Beek and then won it at the death with a header from 18-year-old Jurriën Timber.
“Always the results matter but it’s not the most important thing in this moment,” said Gracia. “It is important we played well, and it was unlucky we conceded the goal in the last minute. But I’m quite happy with the performance. We played with two different XIs and they did well after some hard work in the last three days. We need to improve many things, but I am happy with this performance.”
Gracia could have pointed to a smart save in each half from Daniel Bachmann and Pontus Dahlberg respectively, a lively showing down the right from Daryl Janmaat or a decent second-half performance from Nathaniel Chalobah as positives, but he instead opted for broader talking points.
“To play games like today, with a good team, after working without much rest and without getting any injuries is the best news for me,” he said. “We have trained really well and then competed really well against a very good team.”
The match will also give Gracia plenty of food for thought and plenty of areas to work on in the next couple of sessions ahead of Saturday’s game with Bayer Leverkusen.
“We have conceded to goals in situations where we have to do better, we have to defend better,” he said. “We need to improve our attacking and lots of other different phases, like set-pieces, but it’s normal. We are in pre-season and we have time enough time to improve and I’m sure with a good attitude, we are able to do it.”