Gianfranco Zola was critical of Watford’s “sloppy” first-half performance after his side’s 4-3 defeat to Charlton Athletic this afternoon.
Despite taking an early lead through Daniel Pudil’s first goal for the club, the Hornets were very disappointing in the opening period and found themselves behind at the break after a Tommie Hoban own goal and Yann Kermorgant’s header.
Zola’s side needed to improve after the break, and they did, taking the lead by midway through the second half thanks to an Almen Abdi penalty and Alex Geijo. However, Kermorgant turned in the equaliser before Johnnie Jackson won the three points 12 minutes from time.
The Watford boss said: “I think that today the reason why we didn’t win is we gave away 45 minutes, something you cannot afford in this Championship. Maybe we had too many compliments the other day [after beating Brighton] and we went on the pitch with probably not the same awareness they had because they were winning all the second balls, they were winning all the headers and they found themselves 2-1 doing little, it was more us allowing them to get into the game.
“No disrespect towards them but we let them get into the game too much because we were not sharp enough. That sharpness for me comes mainly because we didn’t manage to get the attention right and you can’t afford that in this league.
“The second half was better. We tried to get the rhythm a little bit better, higher, more quality in the passing but unfortunately our defending today as well wasn’t the best. It’s disappointing but a good lesson again for us. We will certainly next time be aware that after a good game you need to make sure you get the same concentration.”
Although one change was enforced following Fitz Hall’s hamstring injury in the win at Brighton & Hove Albion, Zola also chose to drop Ikechi Anya, Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra down to the bench, while Jonathan Hogg was left out of the matchday squad.
Asked if he regretted making five changes, he replied: “Not at all. I’ve made them before and it worked. I don’t think the problem lies in there, I think it was more like that [they] just didn’t focus.
“The players that played, Geijo, Forestieri, they did quite well, so I don’t think the fact we changed many players has got something to do with the game.”
Zola added later: “We went in front but we were not certainly the normal time that we are. The passing wasn’t good enough, we were sloppy, honestly, we were sloppy and it was very costly. We tried to get into the game, in the second half we did better, but sometimes it’s too late. If you don’t prepare and you aren’t mentally [focused] before the game, it becomes very, very difficult to do when you are in the game.”