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Javi Gracia under fire after resting half his first team against Newcastle United

2 years ago

After watching his team snatch a late draw against Newcastle, Javi Gracia found himself under fire from both the media and Watford fans.

The 1-1 draw meant the Hornets moved up to ninth but many of their supporters feel it could and should have been up to seventh on Saturday night.

Rafa Benitez made six changes for the game at Anfield on Wednesday as up to a point, he put out a damage limitation side.

Which basically amounted to protecting Salomon Rondon for today’s game with Watford, knowing that it would be most unlikely for Newcastle to get anything off the league leaders.

However, Javi Gracia threw everything at their game on Wednesday against Chelsea, unlucky to lose 2-1.

The Watford boss though shocking the home side by making six changes to his first choice team.

Amongst those were the highly sought after Doucoure who could be joining PSG shortly, whilst the midfielder found himself sitting on the bench next to striker Troy Deeeney, who was also left out/rested.

When this pair came on in the 54th minute, Watford looked a far better team and who knows what would have happened if they had been on from the start?

Quizzed about the controversial move after the game, Javi Gracia replied: ‘So if I don’t do it in this moment, when can I do it?’

The Watford boss referring to the busy festive period, with Bournemouth away up next on Wednesday.

He obviously does have an argument, up to a point, but making six changes did look extreme.

A valuable point for Newcastle but Rafa Benitez will feel it should have been three with the help of Gracia’s generosity.

Javi Gracia:

“I have to choose, in the games, different players…

“At the moment, playing every three, four days, I have to give chances to all of my players.

“All of my players deserve to play, because they are playing very well and we are a good squad, not just a good team.

“So if I don’t do it in this moment, when can I do it?

“Some of them need a rest, I have to prepare for the games.”

“If you see the result you can say that [making six changes was too much]… but I don’t agree.

“I think that we started well, created good chances, clear chances, and we didn’t take them.

“After that, we knew the game would be very demanding for us but after conceding the goal, it was even more difficult.

“We kept going, kept working, and we scored one goal.

“Sometimes to have the possession is not the same as to have control of the game.

“Today we knew, Newcastle defend well and play on the counter-attack very well.

“At the end, I am happy with my players.

“Maybe the game could have [had] a different result but after seeing the game I am happy with our behaviour and how we were believing until the end.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Watford 1 Newcastle 1


Watford: Doucoure 82

Newcastle: Shelvey 29

Possession was Watford 63% Newcastle 37%

Total shots were  Watford 12 Newcastle 8

Shots on target were Watford 5 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Watford 3 Newcastle 6

Referee: Graham Scott

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez (Schar 46), Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden (Shelvey 79), Diame, Perez, Atsu, Rondon

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Muto, Joselu, Manquillo, Murphy

Crowd: 20,336 (Newcastle 2,000)

(The instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Watford match – Read HERE)

(3 late Premier League goals ruin it for Newcastle United – Read HERE)


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