Gracia: “We Didn't Find A Way To Attack”
Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below.
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia could do nothing other than reflect on the brilliance of Ben Foster after he watched his inspired goalkeeper single-handedly secure a point for his side against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Foster made one spectacular save from Jürgen Locadia in the first half and three more in the second, including an even better one from the same luckless player, to post a contender for Display of the Season that will take some beating.
“Ben saved us in the second half,” said Gracia. “It is not a surprise as he’s a very good ‘keeper. He is not doing anything different that I don't know.”
Foster signed a two-year deal in the summer with the option of a third and Gracia is thrilled he has been furnished with a goalkeeper of such high quality.
“All of you know Ben Foster better than me,” said the Head Coach. “He has had a brilliant career and I know he is in enjoying his time with us. He’s working day by day with a smile on his face, with a very good character. I think he is really good for the rest of the team. There is no other secret than working hard every day. With his attitude and mentality every day, in every training session he can play for a long time.”
While Gracia had in no hesitation in providing a glowing assessment of Foster’s display, he was also realistic of the performance of his outfield players.
“Brighton played better,” he said. “We were not good offensively. In the first half we didn’t suffer a lot, we had some moments with the possession, but we weren’t aggressive offensively. The possession we had wasn't enough to create chances. In the second half it was worse because Brighton played better with lateral crosses, with more corner kicks where they are dangerous. We’ve defended well, and it was very demanding for our team. In that part of the game, we played well. Offensively we didn’t find ourselves. We tried different ways with Andre and Troy, some minutes with Will in the middle and Gerard on the right. But in our mechanisms of attack we didn’t find the right way.”
Gracia was given the chance to offer up the absence of the injured Abdoulaye Doucouré as an excuse, but he declined.
“I prefer not to complain about this because the players we have, we are able to play much better offensively. We usually do it, so we need to improve and work on that,” said Gracia.
The Head Coach was also without Roberto Pereyra (calf) and Isaac Success (hamstring): “In some days Pereyra can be ready. Isaac maybe needs more time. It’s something muscular.”
The big plus points from a rather dour game were a sixth league clean sheet of the season and the fact the team didn’t get beat, like they did here last season. It was perhaps further confirmation that this team has a bit of identity under Gracia, that they don’t just roll over and get beat when they aren’t playing well in what was his 39th Premier League in charge, more than any Head Coach has managed since the club was promoted in 2015.
“When you achieve something like that [39 games], the most important thing is to keep focussed on the next day. I don’t like to speak about the future or the past – I like to speak about the present. It’s the best way to achieve important things. Our ambition is to try to be demanding, to continue in the next game, keeping our level and at end of the season see where we are. From the moment I arrived here, I felt very comfortable. I think it’s a club I am feeling really well [at]. I am enjoying my time.”