Gracia: “Scoring Three Away, You Have To Win”
Watch Javi Gracia's post-match press conference above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia said he had never been involved in a game quite as madcap as the one at the Vitality Stadium that produced six goals in 27 minutes, including four in a riotous six-minute spell.
The Hornets led 2-0 thanks to Troy Deeney's 116th and 117th goals for the club and then 3-2, but Bournemouth equalised on 40 minutes and were only denied a winning fourth goal in the second half by the heroics of Ben Foster.
Asked if he had been involved in a helter-skelter game like that in his days as a defensive midfielder and then as a coach, Gracia said: “No, never. Six goals, the supporters will be happy, but I am a little disappointed because after scoring three goals we have lost a good chance to win. It's not easy to score three goals away from home.”
Watford went into the game leading the league in terms of big chances missed, but they put that right at the Vitality Stadium, scoring with each of their three shots on target. The irony was that having solved that issue, they sprung a leak or two at the back.
“We conceded in the moment two goals from two free-kicks,” said Gracia. “We had to defend better. I knew we needed to defend well because I was sure Bournemouth would create chances because they always do it. We conceded two goals from two free-kicks and it was difficult to accept.”
Gracia was pleased his side gained more control in the second half and managed to shore things up.
“After that we competed well and we were looking for victory until the end,” he said. “Maybe if it could have worked differently but we kept working. It was different moments in the game. We started well and after they scored two goals as well it was a moment without control but we controlled it better in the second half and were more organised to contain them.”
The Head Coach was furious with the concession of the first goal and was protesting to the linesman for a good few minutes.
“First of all have to defend better but there is a clear block, one player pushing and not wanting to play the ball,” he said. “Before touching the ball, I was telling [the linesman] it was a foul but there are a lot of similar situations in other games.”
Eddie Howe was adamant Abdoulaye Doucouré should have been show a straight red card for a first-half tackle on Ryan Fraser, but Gracia felt Bournemouth also got away with one.
“The same as Gosling [on Cleverley],” said the Head Coach. “It was similar, but there were many yellow cards were for us. There were many fouls, similar fouls but only yellow cards for us.”
Cleverley was unhappy with the challenge by Gosling, but was even more unhappy with David Coote's decision not to award the Hornets a penalty late on.
“I'm sure Ake touched the ball with his hand,” said Gracia. “But we accept the decision and try to be demanding with ourselves. The best way is to improve and be better for the next game.”
The Head Coach was thrilled at the contribution of his two-goal captain Troy Deeney, Ken Sema who scored one and created another, and his goalkeeper Ben Foster.
“Everybody knows Troy is very important for us, scoring goals,” said Gracia. “Ken Sema as well. Ben Foster was very important for us. He was a very good keeper before coming with us. Now he is better. I call him the Big Ben. When I arrived in London I thought Big Ben was in London, but he's with us. He's playing very well. In the second half, he had some very good actions.”
Although Gracia conceded Bournemouth pushed hardest for the winner, he felt his side merited the point they picked up which extends their nice little run to one defeat in six matches.
“In all the games we have played away, we have created good chances,” he said. “It's true, in the second half, we had to defend better. Bournemouth created good chances. I try to speak about the whole game. We started very well, we had chances to kill the game, but we didn't do it. We tried until the end, in the last minute, and if there were other decisions, we had the chance to win. But we get one point and we keep going.”