MANUEL: WE’VE GOT TO MAN UP

Al­mu­nia wants his Hor­nets to tighten up

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Paddy von Behr

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.

In­stinct

“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.

At­ten­tion

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CALL TO ARMS: Wat­ford keeper Manuel Al­mu­nia wants the Hor­nets to tighten up

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