First Team 22/07/2019

Gracia: “To Win Is A Very Good Reward”

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia boarded the plane home from Austria with the feeling his team are heading in the right direction after they rounded off their overseas training camp with a none-too-shabby win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen will play in the Champions League this season and fielded one of the most coveted players in Europe in Kai Havertz, but the Hornets rolled up their sleeves on an uncomfortably hot afternoon and dug out a 2-1 win, thanks to goals from Will Hughes and Andre Gray, that will reaffirm to everyone that this lot are on the right lines again under the Spanish alchemist.

“To win against this team is a very good reward for us,” said Gracia. “The result is not always important but to finish this way is something to be proud of. 

“We are playing against Leverkusen and you can see the quality of their players. They are going to play in Europe and they have an amazing squad. To compete against them is good news and is a reward for the hard work we have done this week. It’s something good for us.”

Leverkusen were easily the more progressive of the two sides, but what was so pleasing here was the clinical nature of Golden Boys’ finishing and the way they dug in at the end to hold on for the win. It was an encouraging portent for the Premier League season when you are given a real searching examination of your collective spirit and will to win. Christian Kabasele and Craig Dawson made three blocks in the first half, Heurelho Gomes made four saves in the second while Ken Sema, who came off and then back on again, kind of summed up the attitude by making a terrific recovery tackle deep in his own half at the death.

“We started well,” said Gracia. “We scored and were winning like we did in the first game [against Ajax], but now we kept our level during the whole game, defending more than attacking. We have to improve our offensive game. We know it, but to play two close games against these teams has been the best thing for us.”

Asked if he felt this represented a step up in performance and intensity levels, the Head Coach replied: “I could say yes because the result is better, but, to be honest, both are different games. In both games we tried to do good things.

“Against Ajax we conceded the second goal in the last part of the game but today we showed resilience and it’s something good for us, the behaviour of all the players, like Harry [Forster], like Ben Wilmot. They all had minutes, all showed what they can do and how they can help the team.”


Matchday Parking: Get A Discount!

Leading car parking operator, CitiPark, owner of three car parks in Watford (Church, Gade and Sutton), as well as a network of other car parks across the UK, has announced that it will once again be teaming up with Watford Football Club to offer fans discounted parking on home matchdays.

Launching in time for the start of the new season on Saturday August 10, CitiPark will once again be offering an exclusive 25 per cent saving on the price of parking at CitiPark’s Church, Gade and Sutton car parks.

Fans are required to register for the offer by going to CitiPark’s website, where they will then be sent their discounted parking permit which will grant them access to the car park at the reduced parking rate on match days. If you already have a discounted parking permit from last season, you do not need to reapply or renew; your existing permit is still valid.

Dave Messenger, Supporter Liaison Officer, said: “We are delighted with the success of the promotion that we ran with CitiPark in the last year, they provide much-needed parking for our fans on match days, so we’re thrilled to see this offer continue into its second full season.”

John Gautrey, Chief Operating Officer at CitiPark and Director at Watford BID, said: “Since ‘kicking off’ our partnership in 2018, we’re pleased to announce we’ve seen significant interest from Watford FC fans and the wider public.

“The offer not only cuts parking costs for fans but also proves successful in driving footfall and increasing dwell time in Watford high street. It’s great to see initiatives such as our partnership with Watford FC having a wider positive impact in the local market.”

Please note, it may take up to seven working days from application for you to receive your discount permit. Discounted rate is valid for 2019/20 home games only. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.