Valerien Ismael rues Watford mistakes but says side had to ‘fight against the referee’

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Valerien Ismael bemoaned “too many unnecessary mistakes” but also questioned the performance of referee David Webb after his Watford side threw away the lead three times in the 3-3 draw at Coventry.

Wesley Hoedt’s own goal was the stand-out error in a disappointing defensive display.

On 64 minutes — after Matheus Martins had put Watford 2-1 ahead with a beautiful curling shot — the Dutchman overhit a back pass to Daniel Bachmann, having not looked up to see the location of the goalkeeper, and the ball rolled into an empty goal.

Hoedt went to the Watford fans after the game to apologise.

“He’s an experienced player who is very important for us, and we have to accept this is part of the game. I was a player. I made a mistake. I scored own goals as well. It is part of the job,” said Ismael, who said there was “no vaccine” against mistakes, but urged Hoedt to learn.

“We cannot blame him. So we speak with him and just to say the decision-making has to be clearer, to be earlier, and if after that we see Wesley with always the right decision-making, then we can remember that situation today and we say this is the moment when the switch flipped in his mind to take the right decision.”

During the transfer window the club were considering whether to sign back-up in Hoedt’s left centre back position, but decided against it.

Only free agent arrivals are possible between now and the January transfer window — a scenario Ismael said was an option, if not an ideal one.

“To take a free agent is always a risk because he didn’t train with the team so you need time,” said Ismael.

“So the risk that a player like that comes in to avoid the mistake; I’m not sure that he won’t make a mistake. So it’s always a process.

“I know the way we want to play is we (have) risk. I want bravery from my player, but I accept the amount of mistake. But today was just too much.”

Ismael felt VAR in the Championship may have prevented Watford’s third goal being allowed.

Ryan Porteous went to ground with an apparent head injury after Haji Wright’s arm made contact with his face. The Coventry attacker then set up Matt Godden to make it 3-3.

“It was not a hand, it was a fist. I know Ryan Porteous really well, this Scottish guy who is really strong, and we saw clear on the footage so I can’t understand it when the linesman is straight next to him,” said Ismael, who did not believe the Watford defender should have remained on his feet.

“If you get hit in your face, you have one second, (and) you would (do) just like that. And in this moment, to play is difficult. So I won’t say, stay strong, (show no) weakness. It is difficult on this one. We need the support either from the referee or from VAR for the Championship and it’s easier for everyone.”

Earlier, Porteous had been adjudged to have handled a Jay DaSilva cross in the box from close range to concede a penalty, which was subsequently saved by Daniel Bachmann.

It was a decision that angered Ismael, who said Watford referee Webb’s performance was “unbelievable” and his team had to “fight against the referee” and his decisions.

“I can’t understand it, because before the season we have a meeting with manager, players and referees and they show us videos of exactly this situation. It was a topic about the penalty and they told us it won’t be a penalty and it’s a penalty today,” said Ismael, who felt there was no point talking to the officials after the game.

“It makes no sense to speak with them and every time is the same. (We) just have to accept sometimes the performance is not good. It can be from the players, can be from the team, today it was from the referee, from my point of view.”

Aside from the officials and individual errors Ismael felt there were some positives in the game and that his side were “moving in the right direction.”

He praised the performance of Mileta Rajovic, who scored the first and third goals on his first start since joining from Swedish club Kalmar during the transfer window.

“We saw how important No 9 was for us for our game,” Ismael added.

Watford go into the international break 18th in the table with five points after one win, two draws and two defeats.

Six players go away during the international break: Bachmann (Austria), EK (D.R Congo), Porteous (Scotland), Giorgi Chakvetadze (Georgia), Ken Sema (Sweden) and Ryan Andrews (England under-20s).

Watford return to action on September 16 with a home game against Birmingham City, before facing Ismael’s former side West Brom (also at home) four days later.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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