Did that put an end to the game plan to cash in so early?
Yes, it could have ended anyway because they are so good, most of the games I see them play, I see a lot of goalscoring opportunities for them. Whenever I watch Man City, I’m not surprised to see them score three more goals, due to the quality of their attacking play. But if we were to have any hope of making them work a little harder for their win, it would have to be a clean sheet for a while in the first half, and then certainly, when you saw that third goal scored – which was a fanatical strike, one of those unstoppable 25 yards which, aided by the wind, flies into the roof of the net – which sours your feeling a little about the first half.
But then go out and in a minute really and give a fourth goal. It puts the game totally out of your reach and then all you look at, you look into the abyss and you’re playing against a team that you know can score a lot of goals if they want to.
What does such a result do to the player’s confidence?
Well, that can’t do them any good. Our hopes and self-confidence were shaken a bit last week as we gave away that goal with the very last kick of the ball. So 1-1, which I thought we deserved on performance, becomes 1-2. It doesn’t help.
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So to come here, it would have been nice if we could produce enough performances and do well enough to get out of here and possibly beat them, because they are clearly a better team than us. But hopefully, okay, it’s Man City, and no one really expected us to get that much out of this game. But of course, heavy defeats take a toll on people’s feelings about themselves and their confidence.
So next week it’s just going to be about trying to boost people’s confidence to get them to put this game aside. Of course, learn from your mistakes, as they always say you have to do. But you know you’re not under such fierce pressure as we often were today in the Premier League. You do it when you play Man City, you do it when you play Liverpool. And it’s not always easy for the players to accept that, to make their decisions fast enough and to produce the necessary technique, fast enough, to be sure not to have the ball stolen in dangerous areas.
You managed the great Ronaldo at Inter Milan in the past, did you think he came out of retirement today when Gabriel Jesus played so well?
Yes, he was very, very good, wasn’t he? I have never seen the best, the great Ronaldo. Unfortunately he injured his knee when I arrived, he only played three games and the rest of the time he was injured. I enjoyed his company but didn’t see him as much of a player as I would have liked. But of course, I had seen enough before that.
Jesus today was excellent, really, really good. He seized his chance extremely well. His pressure was extremely good. His races were very good. And of course, he got his reward with his four goals.
With the club looking set to fall, what needs to change to make Watford more competitive in the Premier League?
Well, I don’t know if now is the right time to talk about it. I mean, first of all, I’m not ready right now to say it’s nailed down relegation. I can’t sit here and watch people say, “That doesn’t look good on you.” And you know, you have a lot of work to do now and you’re going to have to get some good results. One after another if you want to get out of this situation. I can’t deny it and I can’t complain about people who say that.
But I don’t think I need to accept the situation we’re relegated to until we are. And in terms of any opinions I might have regarding the club and anything that might need to be done, I will only give those opinions if the owner asks me to buy. If he wants my opinion on that, then, of course, I’ll give it to him. But I don’t intend to give that opinion to anyone other than him. And I don’t intend to say anything about what the club is or how it should work and how it should go forward and what it should do. It will really be a question for Gino Pozzo and Cristiano Giaretta. And that their work. But if they wanted to hear what I was thinking, of course they know, I’ll give them my thoughts
Do you have the assurance of not getting fired before the end of the season?
No, no insurance at all. So it’s, it’s another matter if they think the situation can be changed by getting rid of me and Ray [Lewington], then it will be their prerogative. I have never asked for assurances since my arrival at the club. I said: ‘I will come to the club, I am doing the job to the best of my ability’. But I never once asked for insurance, and I don’t have those kinds of conversations with the owner.
Ismaila Sarr received a knock at the start, did it affect his display and is he okay?
I do not know. I was told the shot was okay and he could continue. You should have asked him if it affected his game. He walked out, because I thought Joao Pedro could do a better job.
Sarr is considered one of the salable assets. What must it do to show potential suitors that it is worth buying?
I do not know. It would depend on what potential suitors want to see, I guess. But I am not aware that it is for sale. But you obviously know more than me, I didn’t realize the club were interested in selling him.
I always thought the club would be interested in keeping him. So if the worst happens, and the club is relegated, he will be one of the players to bring them up.
Hassane Kamara and Emmanuel Dennis didn’t look like they belonged today, did they?
I am okay. There were performances from all 11 players that I’m not unhappy with. And you just named two, of course, who were extremely successful. But if you want to get anything here other than not going 1-0 after a minute and considering a goal a minute into the second half, if we put that aside what you need to do for the rest of 90 minutes, you gotta get quite a few ticks by a lot of players, who come out and you say, well, ‘He did well today, he had a good game, and he did exactly what what we were looking for. I don’t think we had enough ticks.
Do you think there is anything you could have done differently?
No, I’m not sure I could have. There’s no point in thinking in those terms anyway. When I arrived I was given a mandate and the club made it clear what they would like Ray and I to do to try to get a better organisation, certainly defensively. But having said that, you know, even that hasn’t worked out the way we’d like because when you concede five goals here you can’t say we’ve improved the defense as much as we would have liked.