Forward Benik Afobe insists the absence of Sheffield Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray should not be used as an excuse for their Hillsborough drubbing to Watford.
Strikes by Gabriele Angella, Lewis McGugan and Troy Deeney (2) condemned the Owls to a 4-1 defeat, their eighth of the campaign on home soil.
Gray missed Saturday’s heavy loss because he attended his son’s wedding, an agreement which was put in place when he joined the club as first-team coach under former Wednesday manager Dave Jones back in December 2012. Coaches Lee Bullen and John Deehan were put in charge of pitch-side duties last weekend as the hosts delivered a below-par showing.
Afobe, who grabbed a second-half consolation for the Owls, said: “It was nice to get a goal but I would have preferred a win.
“The manager wasn’t here but we prepared exactly how we normally do. Bully [Lee Bullen] and Dixie (Deehan) took the side and spoke to us in the same way as the manager does. It’s just unfortunate we have lost when the manager wasn’t here.
“People might have question if we were committed and mentally right. I think we were. Everything was done exactly like it was suppose to be done and we’ve lost the game so it’s disappointing.”
Watford raced into a two-goal lead midway through the first period and were 4-0 up after 51 minutes as they secured their first away triumph in more than five months.
Afobe said: “I think we had a very slow start. In the first 20 minutes, we weren’t tight defensively and once they scored two goals, our heads dropped a bit.
“We spoke about it at half-time and we knew what we wanted to do. We thought if we scored the next goal it could all change but unfortunately they got the third and it was really game set and match.”
The striker, making his first start since their FA Cup loss to Charlton, notched his second goal in 11 appearances on Saturday since arriving on loan from Arsenal, heading in Liam Palmer’s inviting centre.
Afobe, contracted to Arsenal until 2015, said: “I started the first three or four games and did okay I think, but against Charlton I had a poor performance and it’s been hard to try and get back in the team.
“I had my chance (on Saturday) and, personally, I think I did alright. But we have lost the game, so it’s a bit of a downer and I am just looking forward to the game against Leicester.
“I am not the first footballer to be dropped and be disappointed to be on the bench. We have been doing really well and I have been coming on as a substitute and doing well so I haven’t been as disappointed as I would be if I wasn’t in the squad.
“It’s unfortunate we lost [against Watford] but I tried my best and I think I worked hard. We are going to have to see on Friday if I’m playing or not.
“It’s going to be a tough game against Leicester who look as if they are going to be champions. But I think before I came here Wednesday beat them 2-1 so they are beatable. We know that. We are just going to try and work hard this week and put things right and make sure the same mistakes that happened versus Watford don’t happen against Leicester on television.”