Premier League • England

No excuses as Ranieri left clutching at straws after Watford suffer West Ham thrashing

Neil Foster
Claudio Ranieri stood on the touchline

Claudio Ranieri refused to blame the club’s recent Covid woes but was left struggling for any real positives after losing at home to West Ham United.

The Hornets had not played since December 10, with games against Burnley and Crystal Palace postponed due to the pandemic. But they took an early lead against the Hammers when Emmanuel Dennis found the net in just the fourth minute. However, that was as good as it got for the hosts.

Tomas Soucek and Said Benrahma put the Londoners 2-1 up at the break. And a Mark Noble penalty plus Nikola Vlasic’s first West Ham goal saw David Moyes side run out 4-1 winners at Vicarage Road.

Watford are 17th in the table and just two points above the drop zone. And Ranieri knows his side must improve if they are to survive in the division.

“The positives were the start and that we never gave up, we tried until the end but of course we must learn to make the right decisions individually and as a team. We have to talk together to find the right solution,” he told BBC Sport.

Claudio Ranieri before Serie A match between Inter and Sampdoria

“In one minute we conceded two goals. When we had the momentum at the beginning of the second half we conceded a penalty and it was difficult after.

“We score goals but it is important to maintain the clean sheet. We had to play better or help each other much better.”

Ranieri keeping fingers crossed over virus

Watford have been one of the clubs hit hardest by the pandemic. Aside from the twin postponements, they have been unable to train properly due to an outbreak among the staff.

They only met up one this week to prepare for the Hammers clash. And, while not wanting to sound as though he was whinging about the situation, the Italian confessed that it has been tough.

“The Covid situation is not an excuse but when you have had just one training session together it is not easy to prepare. I hope this week nothing happens and we can train every day,” he added.

“Now it is important for us to think about ourselves and find the solution and help each other to find this.

Mark Noble West Ham Watford 2021 TEAMtalk1

“The players tried to do the best. We have to continue but of course improve.”

Next up for the Hertfordshire outfit is the visit of Tottenham on New Year’s Day. A trip to Leicester follows seven days later as Watford begin their FA Cup campaign.

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