Anyone who has asked me for my opinion about who will get promoted from the Championship this season has got the same answer. Watford will be champions, Derby will be runners up. Well, the first weekend of the footy season is over and I’m confident about my prediction about who will be champions..
This was my first visit to St Andrews and what an enjoyable day it was. We managed to find the ground pretty easily (once my geographically astute other half took over responsibility for our yomp from New Street station). A decent largish stadium and we parked ourselves behind the goal with 2,700 other Hornets. The atmosphere was tremendous, with the usual chants about Zola and Udinese supplemented with the rather basic, “Lewis McGugan!”..
The match was perhaps not the thrashing I had expected but it was a deserved, hard fought one nil away win for the Hornets, courtesy of Troy Deeney’s 11th minute goal. Brum were a lot better than I expected and were well organised and hungry, with plenty of new young unknowns playing for them. Wade Elliott was the pick of their players, a driving force in central midfield. I reckon they’ll have a solid season, untroubled by relegation. That’s the kiss of death for Brum then.
Zola’s team selection surprised me a little. Forestieri starting off up front with Deeney and Iriney, the new signing from Granada starting in front of the defence. Fessi was his usual ebullient self, creating the goal for Deeney and a threat throughout. Iriney was neat and tidy but perhaps not the yellow card collecting, midfield enforcer I’d been led to expect.
The best Watford player for me was Doyley. His solid, sometimes brilliant defensive work was certainly needed, given the frailities demonstrated by Cassetti and occasionally, new signing Gabriele Angella (who otherwise came across as classy and poised).
The other star performer was Anya, one of the revelations of the second half of last season. He had a great game, put in some great crosses, was pacy and direct and it was a shame to see his game cut short by injury. I hope it wasn’t too serious. Abdi also played very well and it was a promising debut by Lewis McGugan. Fabbrini (who I was massively impressed with in the friendly with Granada) also put some impetus into Watford’s front play when he came on. I think he’ll have a good season.
The only disappointment of the day was missing an apparent 25 yard shot from Doyley because I’d sneaked out to the bar to get a couple of pints for our half time refreshment. In hindsight, I stand by my decision. Sometimes lager has to come first.
Some of the football Watford played was sublime but they do need to work on ironing out some of their flaky defensive play. Overall though, a promising start to the season.