Gracia: “We Prefer To Compete Well & Detect Our Defects”
By Kevin Affleck
Head Coach Javi Gracia got exactly what he was looking for out of the demanding pre-season friendly with Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
With The Rs just one week out from their league opener against Stoke City, Gracia knew QPR would go at it hammer and tongs and give his side something of a searching examination fitness-wise in their penultimate work-out fixture.
Mark Warburton’s side certainly asked a few questions in the first half, particularly through Bright Osayi-Samuel, and the Hornets had to have their defensive wits about them in a game that had more than a few similarities to the fifth round FA Cup tie at Loftus Road in February.
“I think QPR played really well,” said Gracia after the 1-0 win. “In my opinion they were not physical – tactically they are a good team. We knew that and that is why we wanted to play against them. We knew it would be demanding for us. It is a good moment to continue against good teams. We prefer to compete well and to detect our defects. That allows us to improve for our next game.”
Slowly but surely, the Hornets are building nicely towards the opening day. They took the lead against Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, knocked over Bayern Leverkusen and them ramped things up intensity-wise against the Championship outfit.
“Our main target is to accumulate minutes and compete against good teams,” said Gracia. “Then we want players in good condition with no injuries. In this moment, the players are tired but this is normal. Afterwards I am sure we will be better. We could compete now but I think we need more time to be better. The next two weeks will be important for us to train but at the same time to rest because now we won’t have the same amount of training sessions. We need to rest a little bit. We will be ready soon.
“Our target is just to try and win our first game and after that, the second game. This way, this mentality, I think is the best when you look very, very far, it is not good.”
Gracia played three at the back against QPR for an hour in what felt like the first time since the away game with Liverpool last year.
“To be honest, it was one shape we don’t usually play but sometimes we do it,” he said. “I thought it was a good chance for us to do it because we had some players with characteristics today that made it a good option to combine the players we had with that shape. I think it was good.”