"A good wake-up call" says Gracia following dire opening day defeat
Photo by Getty Images/Michael Regan

"A good wake-up call" says Gracia following dire opening day defeat

The manager reflected on an abject first gameweek performance at Vicarage Road against Brighton.

James Baldwin

After watching his team get rolled over by Brighton & Hove Albion in a 3-0 defeat at home, Watford boss Javi Gracia had some tough truths to tell.

The Hornets were markedly off the pace on opening day and Gracia, entering his second full season as Watford manager, immediately pointed out that improvement was quickly needed.

"We need to improve and maybe this is a good wake-up call for the rest of the season. The best news is that it's the first game and we have a lot of time to improve. Today there were no excuses. They played better than us, they deserved the three points and they got the result they deserved."

There is no denying Brighton's excellence on the day - Graham Potter has a vision for the seaside outfit and organised his team effectively for their first game of the season. However, it does not excuse Watford's miserable outing, in which many of the team did not look fully prepared.

But this was a notion which Gracia steadfastly denied.

"All the players were training hard during the 40 days, 42 sessions and seven games," he asserted. "In the first game, I have no doubt we were ready. I think they always have the desire and the ambition to win and to do their best. We conceded the first goal, the second one the same, and it was tough for us."

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The boss was also quick to pick up on the two errors which led to the opening goals - the first from new signing Craig Dawson and the second from one of last seasons' stand-out players, José Holebas.

"I think we can improve collectively. The first two goals came from individual actions. We have to do better to improve these actions if we want options to improve our results.

"All of us are disappointed today but I prefer to wait, to trust we'll be able to do it better in the second game. I prefer to focus on that."

Strong Seagulls too much for Hornets

The Hornets' head coach had already commented on Brighton's deserved three points and was positive on their attitude towards the game as well.

"They were playing well in pre-season," making reference to Potter's team winning 4 of their 5 games in that spell. "We knew the shape they played today was three at the back. We knew it because last game against Valencia they played the same way and they only changed one player.

"They played better than us and it was too late for us to improve. We will be able to in the future."

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New signings' involvement?

Following an incredible couple of days in the transfer window for Watford - which saw decorated England international Danny Welbeck join for free and a new club-record signing in Ismaïa Sarr arrive on Deadline Day - the Hornets' 3-0 defeat was something of an anti-climax.

When asked whether he would be looking to include the two sooner than he would have expected, Gracia implied he would, if needs be.

"I always like to speak about the players who have played in this game and not miss the players I don't have.

"We didn't play well and we need to improve. The best way is to try and improve with what we have and I'll choose the best option we have in the next game. The solution for today is with the players I have ready for the next game."

With a tough test at Goodison Park against Everton coming up, it will be interesting to see who Gracia plays and how he implements any changes. The Hornets and their manager will be hoping for a much better performance next weekend.