Gracia: “Tonight We Have Good News”
Javi Gracia is excited about seeing Domingos Quina fulfill his undoubted potential at Watford after seeing the midfielder mark his debut with a goal of the very highest quality against Reading.
The club were extremely pleased to fend off stiff competition for the signature of the Portuguese youth international on deadline day and he showed what all the hype was about when he rattled in an unstoppable shot from 25 yards past Sam Walker. The shot was full of such power that Walker barely moved and could only sink to his knees and watch it nestle into the top corner.
Reading boss Paul Clement, who has seen a thing or two at Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, called it "a fantastic goal" while Hornets' legend Nigel Gibbs made a point of shaking Quina's hand at full-time and applauded him on his goal. Gracia also gave the 18-year-old a big pat on the back when he replaced him with nine minutes to go.
"Domingos is a young player who has a lot of quality and everybody knows he has a brilliant future, but we want to enjoy him in the present," said the Hornets' Head Coach.
Quina's goal killed the game at 2-0 and provided the icing on the cake on what was a near-perfect night for the club. The team made it through to the third round of the League Cup for the first time in five years, Nathaniel Chalobah and Stefano Okaka made their comebacks from injury, Ben Wilmot looked very composed on his debut, there was a clean sheet which always does wonders for confidence and Isaac Success got his first goal for the club in nearly two years.
"Tonight we have good news – not only with a good result and to continue in this competition," Gracia said. "Having injured players back like Chalobah, like Okaka, is good news and we also have players playing who don't usually play in the Premier League. Today they had the chance to enjoy minutes and I am very happy for all of them."
Success started a Watford game for the first time since 2016 and he showed why he is now a genuine alternative off the bench. He will be pushing Troy Deeney and Andre Gray hard if he continues to play with the hunger he did here.
"Today he has scored a good goal for the team," said Gracia. "I spoke with every player before the game and tried to explain that they don't have to show anything different than they usually do in training, in pre-season. They are good professionals – the only thing that changed is the opportunity to play. It is very good for the group that they enjoy more minutes."
Chalobah played 87 minutes before being withdrawn with cramp in his first action of any sort since the defeat against Manchester United on the last day of the season, while Okaka charged off the bench in the second half in his first outing since the goalless draw with Palace in April.
"Chalobah deserved this game, Stefano as well," said Gracia. "After long periods injured, it is good for them, good for the team, good for the club and good for the supporters. Today we have good news."
It is hard to see Gracia making any changes to the Premier League matchday squad for the game against Tottenham on Sunday, but this lot have definitely given him food for thought.
"It is a difficult situation for me," he said. "I try to choose the best options for the next game and I know my decisions are not fair with some players, but I can only take 18. I would take more players if I could, but it is not possible."
The Golden Boys reached the semi-final of this competition in 2005, but this represented the first time they have been beyond the second round in five years. Gracia was asked if he had set his sights on a run to the final.
"I don't like to think of a final as an objective," he said. "I am just focused on the next game, which is a difficult game against Tottenham. We will try to win every game and have a good mentality. That is the best target."