Second in the Championship with nearly a quarter of the season gone, Watford are still a work in progress under Vladmir Ivic, but looking in good shape…
Watford looked tired in the Premier League last season, a club that had enough of life in the top tier, their revolving door policy to the manager’s office finally catching up with them.
So much so, that you feared the malaise would continue into this season, back in the Championship.
But the early signs are that all is actually well. The Hornets are second in the table after 11 games, one point behind a rapidly regressing Reading, with a squad that could easily still pass for one in the top flight.
Now seemed as good a time as any to assess the state of things at Vicarage Road under new manager Vladimir Ivic, with Kelly Somers.
“Watford still aren’t playing as well as that squad should be playing,” she said on The Totally Football League Show this week.
“But you have to look at the turnover, and there was so much uncertainty around the likes of Etienne Capoue, Troy Deeney, even Will Hughes. They’ve all stayed, but they haven’t been in the squad until recent games.
“It was really good to have Andre Gray back because his record in the at this level is brilliant: 25 goals last time he was in the Championship, 41 goals in 88 appearances.
“I think Ivic deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done with a squad in transition, managing who’s leaving, who’s not, separating the squad when they weren’t sure who was going.
“But it’s not perfect yet. Far from it. He said they need to improve the transition from defence to attack: we can’t just win games because we’ve got better players on paper.”
Speaking of Deeney, he was absent for the first nine games of the season with a knee problem, but has emerged from the bench in their last two games, looking in ship shape.
And despite talk that he could leave, and that perhaps his time has passed in a Watford shirt, Kelly Somers thinks there’s still plenty to come from Deeney.
“Deeney came on, his 400th appearance for Watford, and he looked very fit. Really lively, really trim.
“There are a lot of people who want to write Troy Deeney off, but write him off at your peril – I think he could be key this season. He looks fired up.
“Having Gray and Deeney as options, as well as Joao Pedro, and then you’ve got Ismaila Sarr. With all these crazy fixtures coming, having all those options is going to be key.”
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