Toppen mot botten, Liverpool mot Watford. Kan det här bara sluta på ett sätt eller får londonlaget ett uppsving med sin nye tränare? Det vi kan slå fast är i alla fall att det här två lag med helt olika säsongsinledningar som kliver ut på gräset på Anfield på lördag. För att få klarhet kring Watfords status har vi varit i kontakt med Jason Bailey(@JasBailey) från The Rookery End Podcast och det här är vad han att berätta:
- Its been a tough start for Watford, bottom of the table and two managers who have been forced to leave, why do you think you are in this position?
This is almost a new experience for Watford fans as since our return to the Premier League in 2015, we have started the season well but tailed off towards the end of the campaign. This was definitely true of last season and the run to the FA Cup Final perhaps gave the false impression that the team were in a good place. The truth of the matter was that the slump continued into this season and it has been very hard for the side to regain any confidence. And this is not necessarily the only issue. For some time now, fans have been asking for squad weaknesses in the centre back and striking positions to be addressed. There’s a feeling we’ve been getting away with it for a couple of seasons, but with a number of games where we have shipped three or more goals, and a clear deficiency in goal scoring ability, the lack of recruitment in those areas have now been exposed.
2. Nigel Pearson is taking over after Sanchez Flores, what are your thoughts on that appointment?
On paper Nigel has the experience to deal with our Plan A (he led Leicester to a great escape from the jaws of relegation the season before they won the Premier League) and Plan B (it was he that took Leicester out of the Championship into the Premier League as champions). There were noises coming out of the club that the players perhaps needed a British coach to get them out of this predicament. It’s a departure from the normal Pozzo type appointment, but the early social media content suggests we have a man passionate about his football and a desire to make a success of his immediate aim. The initial response from fellow Watford fans indicate his appointment has been well received and feedback from Leicester fans is that the club have made a good decision for the situation we find ourselves in.
3. Which players will be most important for Watford in the second part of the season?
All of them!! OK, I know that sounds like a cop out, but this is part of the problem. I’ve made the statement earlier about conceding too easily and not scoring enough, a recipe for disaster! What we’ve seen under Javi or QSF was the team inevitably conceding and heads dropping. You could see the players thinking ”How do we get anything out of this game now?”, rather than rallying together as a team and saying ”Come on, we can do this!”. We have players with individual ability, such as Gerard Deulofeu, but do they have the stomach and mental fortitude for the relegation battle we find ourselves in? Nigel Pearson has a job to do, but the players have to be up for the fight as well, every single one of them. It’s not beyond the realms of imagination that if a player is not 100% committed, regardless of talent, he will have very little involvement in the second part of the season.
4. In your first game without Sanchez Flores you drew against Crystal Palace, where you satisfied with the performance?
Satisfied is probably right, but no more. The difference in desire and fight that we saw from the team compared to performances under Sanchez Flores was remarkable. Players were quicker closing down the opposition, happy to attack the ball and not afraid to get it forward quickly. What has helped is captain and talisman Troy Deeney returning from injury. QSF had started some matches without a recognised striker on the pitch, preferring to use the likes of Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra in the forward positions. Against Palace, Deeney gave the team a focal point of attack. However, the issue of putting the ball in the back of the net remains. Decision making in the final third was still poor and will surely be at or near the top of Pearson’s To-Do list.
5. If you could bring back one Watford player from the past in their prime to help the team, who would it be and why?
Luther Blissett! You’ve got a goal scoring problem so bring in a former golden boot winner, right? He could finish with boot or head and benefited from playing between a pair of young exciting wingers in Nigel Callaghan and John Barnes (you might remember him!!). With our record signing, pacy wide man Ismaila Sarr finally starting to get some Premier League game time and showing us Hornets fans what he’s capable of, a Sarr-Blissett combination would have been a match made in heaven.
6. Liverpool at Anfield, what kind of game do you expect? How do you think you will lineup?
Honestly, and probably not surprisingly, I’m not expecting much! There have been some horror shows at Anfield in recent seasons for Watford and the league table clearly doesn’t suggest things will be different this time around. Being Pearson’s first game it’s difficult to predict what he will do. However, he was at Vicarage Road for the improved performance against Palace on Saturday where interim manager Hayden Mullins set the team up in a 4-4-1-1 formation, not too much of a departure from the 4-4-2 that Pearson seemed to prefer when at Leicester. Unless he has seen something different in his first week of training, I think we will see a similar line up to that used last weekend.