As we look forward to Saturday afternoon’s game at Watford, we caught up with Hornets fan and season ticket holder, Steven
As we look forward to Saturday afternoon’s game at Watford, we caught up with Hornets fan and season ticket holder, Steven Hancock (@stevenh1980). We ask Steven about Watford’s promotion aspirations, their FOURTH manager of the season, Slavi?a Jokanović, his prediction for the game, among other topics.
1. What were your expectations before the season started? Was promotion the aim from the off?
Personally, the expectation for this season was to get in the Playoffs. Last season was ultimately disappointing as I felt like we had the squad to perhaps go further than our Wembley defeat in 2013, but it did not pan out that way. I felt that we had improved in certain areas over the summer and a top 6 finish was where we should aim for.
2. You`re well within the promotion mix at the top of the league. It`s a tough call to make, but do you think you will make the autos, or have to do it through the play-offs?
Since just before Christmas, I have had a feeling that we will win it. I love the Championship. I don`t think there is a league around which is as unpredicatable but I have just felt that we will win it. Just after the game with Reading (and after Wigan in midweek), we have three massive games against Ipswich, Derby and Middlesbrough. Two of them are at home. By that time, we should have a pretty good idea of what will be riding on the last few games of the season.
3. You`ve had many managers under the Pozzo family ownership, but how much have the owners progressed the club in the short time they`ve had?
The club is completely different since the Pozzo family have taken over the club. With our previous owner, there was so much uncertainty about what was going on behind the scenes, to the point where I don`t think even he knew what he was doing. The relief when he went was huge. The whole place is different now under the Pozzo`s. Whoever took over the club and built a stand on the old side was always going to be seen in a good light. It is great to finally have a 4 sided stadium again. The players we have had in, ok some of them have not been great, but people like Vydra, Abdi, Tozser are so important to the team. They would not have been here if the Pozzo`s were not here, and I don`t think we would be in this league if they were not here.
4. How do you think Slavi?a Jokanović has done in his first job in English football?
I think he is getting better all the time. I must admit, I did have my worries when he was appointed. I felt like we perhaps needed someone who had Championship or Premiership experience, and after we lost 4 in a row in November, and having had three other managers, he could have gone. But he has improved. He identified players who were not putting in the effort he expected, rightly or wrongly, and decided that they would be shipped out on loan and work with the players he feels he can trust. This is having success as since the bad run in November, we have only lost 4 leage games. I am a little uncertain in some of the positions he plays people, but with any new manager, they need time. The more time he gets, the better he will be. And with a possible promotion he would join a very small list of people who have got us up into the top league.
5. Which Watford player(s) are really excelling so far this season?
Odion Ighalo is someone who has excelled beyond anyone`s expectation. He seemed to have a good work ethic from what we had read about him, and had scored goals in the lower league in Spain, but to get 17 goals so far this season is a fantastic achievement. In my opinion, Almen Abdi is our most important player. He has only been with us for three seasons but he is fast becoming one of my favourite players ever. Superb passer of the ball and he has a fantastic shooting ability. He missed a huge chunk of last season and I think that his return to fitness is a key reason why we are where we are.
6. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?
Nathanial Chalobah was superb when he was here on loan a couple of seasons ago. If we could have him back, in that form, that would be great. Scored a fantastic goal at Leicester which sticks in the mind. I like McCleary. Liked him at Forest. Always seems to score spectacular goals, well from what I have seen anyway. Robson-Kanu looks useful too. Loads of pace so he can be tricky.
7. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Watford on Saturday?
Think we will line up in a 4-3-1-2 formation as follows. Maybe a couple of changes due to injuries.
Gomes, Paredes, Cathcart, Angella, Anya, Guedioura, Watson, Tozser
Abdi (Munari if not fit), Deeney, Vydra.
8. Prediction for the game?
Sorry guys, we should win this. We are good at home and if we have ambitions of going up, we have to win these types of games. Let`s go for 3-1.