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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Watford

Ryan Gray of the Watford Observer on The Hornets

30 April 2021

Watford have confirmed promotion with two games to spare this season. At times it looked like they might have slipped up but they got over the line. Is that what you expected of them this season?

It was, yes. I know they had their problems, but if you look at the squad they have, top two is exactly where they ought to be. They had to make some brave decisions to get there, but in the end I think they’ll be delighted with their season. Getting promoted with games to spare is the icing on the cake.

Since Xisco (above) took over in December, he has really turned Watford into a force in the Championship. How big was his role in promotion this season?

I think it was the turning point to be honest with you. The previous head coach Vladimir Ivic did a good job of making them solid in defence but going forward they lacked any real cut and thrust. Since Xisco changed to a 4-3-3 they’ve not looked back. He’s managed to get the best out of the attackers while maintaining that resilience at the back and it’s worked perfectly.

This game with Brentford and the final day against Swansea were set to be huge games if automatic promotion was still in doubt. How much of a relief do you think it is to Watford to secure promotion before those final clashes?

I think you could tell how relieved they were on Saturday at full time. The defeat at Luton a couple of weeks ago, I think was a case of the pressure getting to them a little and for them to have that completely lifted is massive for them. That’s not to say they didn’t deal with the pressure well, but I think they’re looking forward to the last two matches being more of a kick about than anything meaningful.

Which player has really stood out for The Hornets this season?

The one player who has been consistent right from the beginning of the season is Kiko Femenía, but he is unfortunately due to miss the final two matches with an injury. Elsewhere, Ismaïla Sarr has flourished in the second half of the campaign, while Francisco Sierralta has really proven himself to be a rock in defence.

Are Watford going to hunt for the title or do you think the squad will be rotated now that top-flight football has been achieved?

If it’s there for them they’ll give it a go, but I really don’t think they care too much about whether they finish in first or second. As far as they’re concerned, it’s job done now and if they win it it’s a bonus, but they certainly won’t be losing any sleep over it.

Last time we saw a thrilling 1-1 at Vicarage Road, what do you think the score will be in West London?

It’ll be interesting to see how Watford line up and how determined they are to win the match. Brentford obviously have more to play for, but I think the Hornets will still give them a good game. I’m going 2-2.

This weekend, we will be joining the rest of football in a boycott of our social media channels to say that Enough is Enough and more must be done to tackle online abuse. That means the only coverage of our visit from Watford will be on iFollow Brentford. 

Season Ticket Holders and Premium Seat Members have VIP access while match passes are also on sale for £10 (£7 international fans).

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