“We knew today it would be a difficult game for us,” stated a clearly disappointed yet cool and composed Javi Gracia, manager of Watford F.C. at a post-game press conference following the Hornets’ 3-1 defeat by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this past Saturday. Gino Pozzo owns the football team.
With regards to the game played by Man City, “They dominated the game,” Gracia conceded, and referred to the Man City club as a “high quality squad.”
“But I am very proud of the effort of my players,” Gracia continued, “Because I know it is very difficult to compete against this team. And you’re losing and you try to press a little bit higher,” he went on, praising the game played by City and even referring to the City club as “dangerous,” but noted with his usual calm and respectful demeanor that his Watford players “deserve the recognition” for playing a difficult and challenging game, and playing it well.
A Tight Game
After playing an impeccable defense and keeping Man City from scoring for the first 45 minutes of the game, things went south for the Watford club 42 seconds into the second half when referee Paul Tierney overruled his assistant’s call on an offside goal scored by former Liverpool player and Man City squad rising star Raheem Sterling. The ref overruled the call in spite of the fact that his assistant ref had a better view of the play, leading fans to make accusations on social media stating “Man City have clearly paid the ref!”
Javi Gracia recalled how that overturned offside call led to Man City’s first goal and completely altered the game in City’s favour, with Watford going on to lose the match 3-1.
Pouring a bit of salt into the Watford wound, only three minutes later, Sterling went on to double Man City’s lead, scoring a third goal just prior to the half-hour mark.
Gracia, known for his cool, calm, and collected demeanor before the press, told reporters, “We played a very good first half, defensively perfect, working the game, knowing in the second half we’d have our options.”
He went on to describe the club’s reaction to the overturned call, “In that moment, our plan changed and it was more difficult for us.”
While reporters pressed the Watford boss for comments on Sterling’s call, Gracia remained calm and composed, refraining from going on a perhaps perfectly valid rant. “I don’t want to say anything as I don’t criticize the referees,” he stated succinctly, “And I’m not going to do it today either.”
In spite of the disappointment of dropping in position from 8th place to 11th place at the Premiere League table after the match against Man City, and even though they’ve lost their last three consecutive matches, Watford still expects their best Premiere League finish since their glory days under Graham Taylor back in the 1980s.
But in spite of the wrongful call, the Watford loss was not unexpected. Former Liverpool star Mark Lawrenson, in his BBC predictions column, foretold that the City club would ‘punish’ Watford and specifically predicted that Sterling and Leroy Sane would play an especially impressive game.
In fact all pundits, led by Paul Merson, placed their bets on City, the League leader, noting that the Hornets have yet to score a win against Man City in the Premier League. In fact, after beating Watford 2-1 in December, the City club has beat Watford at their last eight confrontations, including this recent match on March 9.
This win solidified Man City’s spot at the top of the Premiere League.
But, while Watford disappointed at its last two matches against heavy-hitters Liverpool and Man City, the club have a big FA Cup game coming up next weekend to look forward to, and they remain optimistic as they struggle to maintain their foothold in the Premiere League.
The optimism is fueled by the club’s recent track record, which has helped the team regain its standing. Watford’s Head Coach and Manager, Javi Gracia, has certainly turned the club around. A former midfielder with over 430 games under his belt and a successful 15-year career, Gracia played primarily in the Primera Liga for Spanish clubs Real Sociedad and Villarreal, and earned his fame in Spain after he led Malaga to two whopping 10-0 wins in a row when they played at the 2013 Uefa Champions League quarter-finals.
After retiring as a player, Gracia began working as a manager and coach, and has coached several football clubs in Spain, Greece, and Russia before his appointment as Head Coach and Manager at Watford in January 2018.
Gracia has wasted no time in raising the standards at Watford. During his short tenure with the Watford club thus far, Gracia has earned a reputation for bringing out the best in his players. He is also known for keeping his cool in public, even under duress, as with the overruled offside call against Man City. He has also earned his players’ loyalty and trust by always having their backs and really focusing on building a unified team spirit among all players.
Gino Pozzo’s Methodology
The club can also thank its owner Gino Pozzo, a Watford resident and international businessman whose contributions and strategic decisions, such as the decision to appoint Gracia, have led the club from their relatively recent lackluster existence as fourth-division has-beens, to reclaiming a position in the Premiere League within only four short years.
Pozzo, who acquired the Watford club from his father, renowned Italian businessman Giampaolo Pozzo, is the club’s current owner and managing director, and is deeply involved in the operation of the Watford club, which was once owned and managed by Sir Elton John, a lifelong fan of the Hornets. Sir Elton was the club’s owner and manager for two brief stints between 1976 and 2002, when the club enjoyed their heyday in the Premiere League, hitting their peak in 1983. Named an Honorary Life President of the Watford club, Sir Elton is said to also contribute his opinions and advice daily with regard to the club’s operations.
In keeping with his father’s model of owning various clubs in different countries at once, and transferring players between these clubs, Pozzo keeps the club healthy through strategic transfers of players between Watford and Udinese Calcio, a football club owned by his father in Italy.
Though the Watford club has faced some setbacks, particularly in its last two matches against Premiere League table-toppers, all is not lost for the Hornets. We recommend keeping an eye on this club that is now thoroughly focused on making a dramatic comeback in the Premiere League.
Related: Tesla’s New Cheap Electric Car