24 Feb Allardyce blames poor finishing for Everton’s latest disappointment
Sam Allardyce blamed Everton’s 1-0 defeat at Watford on his players after insisting their inability to finish had cost them.
Troy Deeney’s 79th-minute goal was enough to secure victory for the hosts on an evening when their visitors missed the chance to move up to seventh in the Premier League having so rarely threatened.
Even against both limited and unambitious opponents Allardyce’s team showed little adventure or desire. Between them the influence of Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Gylfi Sigurdsson was minimal, and beyond a late chance for Cenk Tosun, and Michael Keane heading wide from in front of goal, Watford were rarely stretched.
Since his appointment Allardyce has consistently been criticised for Everton’s pragmatism. It was also his Watford counterpart Javi Gracia who pursued victory when he introduced Stefano Okaka to give his team a second striker, but the 63-year-old Everton manager said: “You squander your opportunities and you pay the price, it’s as simple as that.
“We lost the game 1-0. We should have come off with a 0-0.
“Our problem away from home is that we’re not picking up the results to guarantee us safety. We didn’t have a finisher on the pitch to put the ball in the back of the net.
“Michael Keane’s header: open goal. Best chance of the game. Oumar (Niasse) at the back post, totally miskicked the ball.
“Deeney’s goal was more our mix-up than great creative play. It was a terrible goal to give away at that stage.
“I thought we were going to nick an equaliser at the end but we didn’t even manage that.”
Asked of the underwhelming performance of substitute Tosun, who alongside Walcott represents one of Allardyce’s two highest-profile signings since his appointment, he responded: “Hopefully that will improve and he will end up doing what we need. Score goals, particularly away from home.”
The 47-year-old Gracia has overseen two victories, two defeats and a draw since he succeeded the sacked Marco Silva amid Watford’s decline to take his new team to the relative safety of 10th, one place behind Everton.
“We knew we had to be patient, take our moment to score a good goal and win,” the Spaniard said. “We needed to work a lot. I am very proud of my players because we deserved the three points.
“It was the moment when we changed in the second half. It was a change I made looking for two strikers. It was the moment to play this way. Stefano worked a lot and helped us to get three points.
“Troy is very important to us on the pitch. I could say many good things about him but, for me, he is the captain.”