Beppe Sannino claims he discovered another side to his Watford team during their backs-to-the-wall display in the second half against Bournemouth and paid tribute to the club’s “incredible” supporters.
Watford performed well during the opening half an hour of today’s match before Bournemouth took control before half time.
The Hornets snatched the opening goal in first-half injury time before Bournemouth dominated the second period, even before the visitors were reduced to ten men and Eddie Howe’s team equalised with half an hour remaining.
Watford barely got out of their half during the second half but showed superb heart and togetherness to grind out a point, despite conceding a second penalty and being under constant pressure.
Sannino said: “I am pleased with the point and this game helped me discover another side of my team. In the second half, they showed heart, great organisation and great desire against a very good team.”
Sannino has called on his team to show more passion during the last week and after the match joked: “Yes there was [more passion], maybe even too much today. It was a beautiful sensation.
“But the passion of our supporters; it was incredible and they were very helpful for us. And I think also the players pushed the supporters to stay together with us.”
Bournemouth equalised from the penalty spot on 62 minutes but there was controversy surrounding not only the decision but which player was sent off.
The Watford Observer had not seen a replay of the incident when writing this and neither had Sannino.
On first viewing, it appeared either Fitz Hall or Joel Ekstrand pulled back Lewis Grabban when he was put through and then Ekstrand challenged the player when the eventual scorer was set to shoot. The referee did not award the penalty initially and it has been said the assistant, who informed the referee he thought it was a penalty, indicated it was for the pull on Grabban’s shirt and not the tackle. The officials talked for more than a minute before deciding to send off Gabriele Angella, who did not appear to be involved in either altercation.
Sannino said: “It was too far for me to judge but if you say that [the wrong player may have been sent off] then I will have a look on the TV and someone will judge. But from here (the technical area) I couldn’t see clearly so I don’t want to comment.”
When asked if Angella told him anything about the incident, Sannino replied: “No.
“Yes he was disappointed because he was not in the action so if you mean that, then he was disappointed because he was not involved but that is Gabriele’s statement so I have to wait to see.”
He added: “You tell me because I didn’t see the image. I think it was a little pull because I saw his shirt but the player didn’t dive (go down) and he carried on and afterwards he dived (went down) when Joel tried to catch the ball but from here I couldn’t tell you what happened. The TV will tell us.”
Sannino confirmed the club had not decided whether to appeal the red card yet.
Watford conceded a second penalty less than ten minutes later when Hall and Manuel Almunia challenged Marc Pugh as he tried to go around the goalkeeper. This time the referee did not send off a Watford player and Grabban’s spot kick, and subsequent follow-ups, were saved by the Spaniard.
Sannino said: “To receive two penalties against you in 45 minutes is very strange and it is the first time for me.
“But I have two very good goalkeepers in Jonathan Bond and Manuel Almunia and today it was Manuel.”
The last half an hour was about survival and Watford’s performance in terms of retaining possession and building attacks was very poor in the second half.
Watford’s defence dropped deep in the second half and Sannino confirmed that was the plan and it was not only a consequence of Bournemouth’s pressure.
On his team’s display before the sending off, Sannino said: “I think we started the game very well. Then we dropped a bit because they were playing well and showed good conditioning.
“But we dropped deep because I didn’t want them to have space over our shoulders because they had a very quick player (in Lewis Grabban).”
Read Eddie Howe's comments from after the match here.