22 July 2024

Watford boss delivers brutal verdict on Sunderland defeat after lengthy dressing-room inquest

Watford held a lengthy meeting in the dressing room after their defeat to Sunderland

Valérien Ismaël told his Watford players to step up and take responsibility after conducting a lengthy debrief in the Stadium of Light dressing room on Wednesday night.


Sunderland’s 2-0 win leaves them fourth in the early Championship table, but leaves Watford hovering just one place above the relegation zone after four games without a win.

There was little between the two sides in the early stages of the game but the hosts were dominant after Niall Huggins’ superb strike shortly before half time.

Abdoullah Ba made it two after the interval and from there Watford threatened little, with half-time substitute Ryan Andrews seeing red late on for a rash challenge on Jack Clarke.



Ismaël is concerned by how his side have fallen away from a decent start to the season and told his players it was up to them to provide the answers.


“I just needed to have clarity with the players in the changing room, to get some answers why we’ve come from strong performances where we able to dominate a game, to a performance where we are not stable,” he said.

“I understand that you can lose confidence when you’re not winning, but at some point the basic of footballs is duels and you have to win them. How we concede the first goal, it shows again that at the minute we cannot do the basics. It’s frustrating. It’s a tough away game against a team with a lot of confidence, so you have to face this at the beginning. We did that, didn’t concede big, big chances, forced a lot of mistakes. But in our transition we were not good enough, the decision making was not there. We pass when we should shoot, shoot when we should pass, miss the free guys out wide and when we shoot it was without conviction.



“The second half we start strong, but the second goal made it very difficult and then we have a red card.


“I didn’t want to complain, so I asked the players for the answers from them so that we can refocus for the game in two days. That’s why we needed a lot of time, because I told them we are not going out until I am satisfied with the answers.”


Ismaël had been handed a new contract on the eve of the game and said it leaves his players with no excuses, criticising their lack of character after conceding the second goal in this game.

“I can’t recognise anything that we worked on with the squad. The only think I think is maybe the hold in the club and the players, always when things don’t go well the excuse with the manager, ‘they will change the manager so we don’t need to force anything’. Or we rely on top players, but they are not here any more.


“There’s no excuse, because we were able to do the job [at the start of the season] and now we are not. I understand that in the Championship, everyone will have a bad run. But we need the mentality, the togetherness and the desire. This is what we are missing. The club has taken responsibility and sent a strong message, and now we are all together in this way. They [the players] need to step up and take responsibility.”

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