24 February 2024

Valerien Ismael ‘comfortable’ about his position despite Watford’s defeat

24 February 2024

Valerien Ismael insists he remains “comfortable” about his position despite Huddersfield’s comeback 2-1 victory consigning his side to a seventh straight home league game without a win – with the Watford boss calling on his players to look at their own performance to find the root cause.

The home fans made their displeasure abundantly clear as Watford struggled through the early going, prompting Ismael to make a pair of first-half substitutions.

That had the desired effect, but only to a point, with Emmanuel Dennis smashing home the opener shortly after the break from Yaser Asprilla’s square ball.

The hosts wasted a fleet of chances to kill the game off, repeatedly opening Huddersfield up only for their finishing to be found lacking, with Tom Ince particularly profligate against his former club.

Huddersfield substitute Danny Ward punished that wastefulness, scoring twice to secure a vital win for the relegation-battling visitors.

Ismael said: “After 20 minutes the feeling was we had to do something to have an impact.

“I picked two players but I could have changed all 11 players. It was still 0-0 but a bad performance, and we spoke clearly to the players at half-time.

“From 21 points at home now we’ve taken only two points. It’s a difficult situation to understand why it’s like that.

“The performance was not there and that’s what we have to analyse and especially the players, because as a manager I’m responsible for the result, but the players are all responsible for their own performance.

“They need to look inside themselves and give an answer to themselves about why they’re not performing as a team.

“I am still comfortable where I am. I enjoy my work every day with the staff and I think the most important thing is we give everything. That’s what I do from early in the morning to late in the evening.

“I would have been frustrated myself as a fan.”

New Huddersfield boss Andre Breitenreiter, meanwhile, hailed the determination his side showed to win in his first game in charge, with sub Ward heading in Yuta Nakayama’s excellent cross from the left before flicking home Tom Edwards’ low delivery from the right.

That comeback win already looks vital for Huddersfield, who remain just two points outside the relegation zone but have also overtaken Stoke to move up a place to 19th.

Breitenreiter said: “On the pitch and outside it, after Danny Ward scored [his first] we had the belief that we could win this game. This is what I want to see and what I like to see.

“We played further to attack and to press high, and had the conviction to score again. The players, the team, they deserved to win this game, absolutely.

“Celebrating the win after the game with the fans…they gave us a lot of good support and we have to really say thank you to them. It was absolutely fantastic watching smiling faces, from the supporters and from the players. I’m very happy.

“I’ve collected so many impressions this week. Some things are different from Germany or Switzerland, but I like it because the mentality is very high. This is a really traditional stadium, and it was special – and it’s really good for me to start with a win.”

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