Gracia: “There Are Positives But We Can Play Better”
Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia is a hugely positive individual, but he's also a realistic one and he was not going to pretend his side played anything like their best against Burnley.
He was therefore pleased to pick up a point, rather than bemoan a defeat, after they got sucked into a right old scrap with the Clarets.
“You always want more, but if you don't play your best game, maybe it happens,” he said. “It's positive to get a point on a special day for the club, for all of us. We wanted to get a victory. I'm a little bit disappointed as we wanted to get a win. When you can't win, it is good to get a point. I am happy with the result.”
Asked why his side were not at their best, like they were, say, against Crystal Palace in the second half, Gracia said: “You don't play alone, you play against another team. To play against Burnley you need to be constant, to be demanding in all the challenges, in all the second balls. I think that part we did well. But we didn't do the different ways to try and attack.
“It's true in the beginning we had a clear chance with Gerard and then with Sema and with Troy. We created two or three more chances, but it wasn't enough to score. It was an equal game, very close. We got a point and we continue."
The one for Deulofeu was a golden one, just like the strikingly similar opportunities he had against Newcastle home and away and against Palace.
“I don't remember the others,” said Gracia, “but with this one, his last touch was a little bit long and in that moment the keeper is very close and it closes his chances. I think he is going to score other chances.”
Tom Heaton did well to save that one and he pulled off another stop from Troy Deeney just before half-time. Ben Foster was also in excellent form, denying Ashley Barnes and Jeff Hendrick.
“Both keepers had a very good performance,” said Gracia. “But I think we could play better in attack. because we usually do.”
Abdoulaye Doucouré missed out today with a knee problem and Gracia was asked if the team missed the Frenchman's drive from midfield.
“I don't like to speak about players I don't have in that moment,” said the Head Coach. “There are others like Tom, like Capoue in the middle, both have played very well. Maybe with other options, other qualities, the game could be different. All my players are important and I prefer to speak about the players who have played.”
Some incorrectly viewed the absence of Doucouré as a sign he would be sold this month, drawing the same conclusion as the one taken following the absence of Marko Arnautovic for West Ham United today.
“I try to answer that question [about Doucouré] every day,” Gracia said. “I don't have any news about that. I think he is going to be my player until the end of the season. I don't know anything about that changing.”
Gracia revealed Doucouré and Craig Cathcart missed out with “minor problems”.
“Maybe for today they weren't available,” he said. “For the next game I am sure they will be ready.”
The initial diagnosis did not look as promising for Kiko Femenía, who limped off clutching the back of his right leg. “Kiko felt something and I think he'll have to rest some days,” he said.
The injury to Femenía was a blow, but Gracia was very much taking a glass-half-full view of the rest of events on an emotional day at Vicarage Road. After all, the team have now lost only one of the last eight and are still in seventh place.
“There are many positives today,” he said. “The team defended very well, were very concentrated, they had to be very demanding and very disciplined. I remember last season when we were winning 1-0 at the end and then two long balls from free-kicks and we lose. We can play better collectively, I am sure of that.”