What Watford coach Valérien Ismael said to his players after Sunderland’s 2-0 victory

After a lengthy debrief in the Stadium of Light dressing room on Wednesday night, Valérien Ismael challenged his Watford players to rise up and take responsibility.

Sunderland’s 2-0 victory puts them fourth in the early Championship table, but Watford is just one point above the drop zone following four games without a win.

Early on, there was nothing separating the two teams, but the hosts took control with Niall Huggins’ magnificent score shortly before halftime.

After the break, Abdoullah Ba made it two, and Watford posed little threat, with half-time substitute Ryan Andrews being sent out late on for a harsh 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.

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“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.

“Yes, this is what I said,” he said.

“I can’t remember anything we worked on with the squad.” The only thing I can think of is the club’s and the players’ control on the club, and the manager’s constant excuse when things don’t go well, ‘they will change the manager so we don’t need to force anything’. Or we rely on great players, but they are no longer available.

“There’s no excuse because we could do the job [at the start of the season] and now we can’t.” I accept that everyone will have a poor run in the Championship. But we need the mindset, the unity, and the desire. This is what we’re lacking. The club has adopted

We have taken responsibility and delivered a strong message, and we are now all working together in this way. They [the players] must take the initiative and accept responsibility.”


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