MANUEL: WE’VE GOT TO MAN UP
Almunia wants his Hornets to tighten up
MANUEL Almunia has run out of patience with Watford’s defensive woes – and he knows there will be no excuses when Brighton visit today.
The Hornets let a 2-0 lead slip for the second time in a week on Thursday, losing 4-2 at Nottingham Forest after suffering the exact same result at Manchester City in the FA Cup last weekend.
The Brighton clash sees Watford return to home comforts, after three straight away games, and Almunia expects everyone to show their desperation for three points.
And provided that desire doesn’t cause Beppe Sannino’s side to break the rules, the 36-year-old goalkeeper believes anything goes.
“We have to do anything to win – anything that is legal on the pitch,” said the former Arsenal stopper.
“There are no excuses, we need people that want to win.The 11 that go onto the pitch they have to show a survival instinct. This is the only way when you are struggling and in a difficult situation, it is where you can see what people have inside.
“There’s no excuse, you can have bad luck and you can have good luck, you can make mistakes or do silly things, but the attitude and the character on the pitch have to be shown all the time. There are no excuses from now.”
Gabriele Angella netted twice to put Watford in control at the City Ground on Thursday, but the visitors imploded and Almunia is hoping his teammates have learnt a few lessons.
“They were not really sharp and they let us play well, but as soon as the other team added one gear more we really struggled,” he added.
“The only lesson we can take is that this is English football, and we need men. We need men to turn this situation because if we don’t change our attitude this is a difficult league.”
Watford have collected just one win in their last 15 Championship outings, which has seen the early promotion contenders slip way off the pace and into the bottom half.
And manager Sannino believes his side are engulfed in a battle and expects the players to knuckle down and show far more grit and determination.
“It’s like a war – we have to consider the personality of the players and I blame myself as well,” said the Italian.
“It’s not only the mental side, it’s the battling side, the personality. We couldn’t keep the right distances apart at Forest and after we conceded the first goal the crowd helped them a lot. It was difficult.”
Sannino knows Watford’s problems are not beyond repair but Almen Abdi’s absence after limping off at the City Ground is a big blow.
The Seagulls have endured a lean spell in January, netting just twice in four Championship games and drawing in blank in each of their last two outings – trips to Derby and Burnley.
And returning to Vicarage Road is an added bonus for Watford, after the manager admitted Forest’s fans played in important role mid-week.
“I know we can fix the things that need attention,” added Sannino, who replaced fellow Italian Gianfranco Zola in December.
“My compliments to Nottingham Forest for playing a good game after half-time – I could see they drew a lot from their supporters once they got their first goal and we need our fans with us.
“For us, we win as a team and lose as a team. The time for us to make things right again lies ahead of us now.”
CALL TO ARMS: Watford keeper Manuel Almunia wants the Hornets to tighten up