Gianfranco Zola 'furious' with referee after Watford's defeat to Blackpool
Gianfranco Zola was “furious” and “very upset” with referee Andrew Madley following Watford’s 2-1 defeat to Blackpool.
The Hornets were leading 1-0 until the final 15 minutes when Tom Ince equalised and then Jonathan Bond fumbled a corner with two minutes remaining, which allowed Gary MacKenzie to scramble the ball over the line.
Watford had three very strong penalty appeals turned down during the match, with the final claim coming in injury time when the score 2-1 was.
Zola believes his team should have been awarded three spot kicks after Daniel Pudil was bundled over at a corner, Troy Deeney was pulled back when set to shoot and Lloyd Doyley was brought down.
“It was frustrating and upsetting,” Zola said.
“It was a day made like this because of one man on the pitch today and he was not wearing a yellow or orange shirt.
“It is very upsetting. I would love to spend more of my time talking about somebody else because I don’t like talking about referees but today he made a difference and I feel so upset, not because of him, but for my players because they worked very hard in difficult conditions and deserved more.
“They didn’t get anything because of him. He had a very poor day, like we all have, and he had two opportunities towards the end to at least make up for his bad day and he didn’t.
“I am furious about it. There was a penalty in the first half which he saw because he was in a good position but he didn’t want to give it.
“The only reason he probably didn’t give it was because Troy Deeney didn’t go down on the floor when he was pushed. If he went down, then he is accused of cheating like he booked Fernando Forestieri for cheating when he got kicked in the left leg. Another player kicked one of my players from behind and didn’t even get cautioned.
“Excuse me for my change of voice – apologies because it isn’t my way - but I feel bad for the players.”
He continued: “There were at least two penalties. The one at the end, I wasn’t going to talk about but I went to see the video and it is clear that he caught his foot.
“I saw straight away it was a penalty because I know the dynamics of those things and I knew he had caught his foot. I went to see it again before I spoke to you and it is clear that he was caught and he took his foot.
“The referee saw it and didn’t want to give it. But that is it.
“So allow me to be like this now because I needed to be like this and then I could carry on,” he said with a smile.
When someone highlighted Pudil being pulled to the ground in the first half, Zola joked: “O thank you very much. That one I didn’t see it but you are right and you have given me an opportunity. That was another one.
“Three weeks ago against Derby County, we were winning 2-0 and there was a penalty that, well, if that was a penalty then there should have been two penalties for that one.”
Watford’s players also believed Blackpool’s winning goal should have been ruled out for a foul on Bond, who subsequently dropped Ince’s corner.
Zola explained: “The goalkeeper told me that Nathan Delfouneso kept hold of his arm but honestly I can tell you I am not sure about it as I couldn’t see it.
“Not only the goalkeeper, but the players around him told me that he pulled his arm but I can’t be sure.
“But the others? I am 100 per cent.”
Watford made four changes this afternoon but it wasn’t simply down to rotation; Almen Abdi pulled out 15 minutes before kick-off after “feeling his groin”, Nathaniel Chalobah had a “twitch” in his hamstring on Thursday, Joel Ekstrand had a tight hamstring and Marco Cassetti was not feature enough to feature.
The Hornets controlled possession in the first half, with replacements Mark Yeates and Jonathan Hogg impressing, but that changed following the restart as Blackpool started to take control.
Zola said: “I think the point is that we started to get tired. Cristian Battocchio worked a lot, also Troy Deeney got tired and I had to change Fernando Forestieri. Then you start to lose Mark Yeates, who had played a fantastic game but he felt the fact he hadn’t played for a while.
“There were a few players who hadn’t played for a while. There were a few players losing it and on top of that, Blackpool got better and you have to admit that this is a team that was in the play-offs last year. They are not going well at the moment but they are a decent team and you have to accept that.
“But until the second goal, they didn’t really cause any problems to us apart from set-plays. I didn’t see it coming.”
Click here to read today's match report.