Admittedly, circumstances played into our hands. A man sent off in the first half, three substitutions and then an injury meant that it was eleven men against nine but it it would take the staunchest of Leeds United fans to discredit this victory too much. The eleven of Watford looked as comfortable on the ball as they have done for the majority of this season and it remains to be seen as to whether even eleven of Warnock’s players could have stopped this Watford side.
I wrote a piece earlier in the season claiming that this Watford team could be the new Swansea. Maybe not yet, maybe not ever, but it’s certain that football-wise, we’re heading in that direction. Recent results may not suggest this, only two wins from the last five and not many in the few before that undermine the praise of this article somewhat. but for now, I’m going to let the football do the talking.
Annoying late goals and ridiculous sendings-off begrudgingly included, this is an exciting team to watch. Playing with three at the back is something not often seen in this division but the trio of Lloyd Doyley, Fitz Hall and Tommie Hoban all seem to compliment each other and wing-backs Daniel Pudil and former Italian international Marco Cassetti provide a natural width not seen at Vicarage Road for many a year. The regular central midfield threesome of Jonathan Hogg, Nathaniel Chelobah and Almen Abdi provide the perfect combination of tenacity, composure, vision and discipline in the middle of the park and with Fernando Forestieri seeming to form an intriguing on and off the pitch partnership with Troy Deeney, I, as I should think the majority of Watford fans would concur, genuinely look forward to turning up at the Vic nowadays.
Maybe this is where this expulsion of euphoria comes from, maybe I’m just not used to this. Under the management of Sean Dyche we were by no means a team with flair or character. Efficient? Absolutely. Exciting? Not so much. No disrespect whatsoever to Dyche, he will no doubt become a great manager at this level and he was exactly what the club needed at that time, but this new project at Watford is something I’m not sure he would have been entirely comfortable with.
Zola, however, seems completely at ease with it. It’s stylish football, letting the ball do the majority of the work. He’s bought in some players, the likes of which we probably don’t deserve. Singled out every week is Fernando Forestieri, an absolute gem of a player. I feel no shame in claiming that he is the Lionel Messi of the Championship. He can dribble with pace, his ridiculously low centre of gravity allows him to escape the clutches of the burliest of centre-backs and the quickness of his feet…well, you’ve never seen anything like it at this level. Love letters aside, Gianfranco has got us playing actual football with actual proper real-life footballers. Nathaniel Chelobah, on loan from Chelsea for the season and player with levels of composure that underlie his 17 years of age, is bound to represent England at the highest level having done so at all levels so far. Almen Abdi, a cultured, plodding play-maker who keeps the team ticking, is a bit too good for this level having played Champions League football at Udinese, and the young, ridiculously composed and intelligent centre-back, Tommie Hoban, should all be picked out as players who have not only made good first impressions but have continued their form thus far.
As far as the end of the season is concerned, I can honestly say that I’m not that bothered right now. I’m just happy to be entertained. I keep expecting it to end soon. What have I done to deserve this every other Saturday afternoon at 3pm?
In all honesty, automatic promotion is a bit much to ask of a first season and reaching the play-offs would be a remarkable achievement, yet I do find myself coming out of games thinking that if we play like that all season there is no reason why it couldn’t happen. Just ask Birmingham or Leicester fans what they thought of our performances against them.
Probably best not to ask Leeds fans just yet though. 6-1, bloody hell.