First Team 4 weeks ago

Mahon: “They Look More Organised And Compact”

By Kevin Affleck

Gavin Mahon saw enough from Watford in their comprehensive victory over Aston Villa to suggest his former team will navigate its way out of trouble.

The former captain was at Vicarage Road for the first time since the 4-1 win over Chelsea nearly two years ago and was mightily impressed with what he saw.

“They had a game plan, a shape and look more organised and compact,” he said on Added Time. “You need that sound base as you are not going to beat teams 4-3 or 3-2 all the time. You need to be defensively sound. They look so athletic and fit, and I think they will be fine, I really do. They need to keep doing what they are doing.”

It's now three games unbeaten, five goals without reply in the last two home games and three matches at Vicarage Road without conceding a goal. The team look, on the face of it, solid at the back and a threat at the other end.

“They look dangerous going forward,” said Mahon, who played 215 times for the Hornets between between 2002 and 2008. “Deulofeu and Troy give you a chance at the other end and they have a top goalkeeper in Fozzy. When you have a top, top goalkeeper you have always got a chance.

“The biggest thing for me was the athleticism and hunger for it. You could see Troy being a leader on the pitch today. When you are in a dog fight, you need those kind of people.”

You also need a Head Coach like Nigel Pearson, someone who has no qualms about rattling a few cages but mixes it up with plenty of arms around shoulders.

“From speaking to people who know him and who have worked with him, his man-management is top drawer,” said Mahon. “As a player he didn't leave anything on the pitch or any stone unturned. That's how he comes across. He's got this team fit, organised and working hard for each other. That's what you need in a difficult position.”

First Team 4 weeks ago

Deeney: “The Atmosphere Has Gone Through The Roof”

By Kevin Affleck

Troy Deeney believes the team's turnaround has been brewing for weeks now and can be traced back to a performance against another side from the Midlands.

Hayden Mullins and Graham Stack took the team against high-riding Leicester and the captain saw enough that night to suggest there was enough about the group and enough quality in the ranks to navigate a way out of trouble. Nigel Pearson and Craig Shakespeare have since built on it, taking it to the next level, harvesting seven points in six days when the previous four months had yielded only nine.

“It was a statement month,” said the captain on Added Time. “The change started with Hayden and Stacky coming in. You looked at the 2-0 defeat at Leicester and I thought we were organised, it was a proper team performance. We were unlucky. We played Palace here and should have won.

“The gaffer then came in and we produced our best performance of the season at Liverpool. We lost 2-0 but we should have won. We then beat Manchester United, drew with Sheffield United, who are flying, and then you get this win today. When other teams are dropping like stones, we have that forward momentum and are chasing them down. Seven points from the week is massive.”

Pearson won't let anyone get carried away with these three positive results in a week. He'll be ramming home the point in training that it's just the start and there is a lot of work still to be done.

“The gaffer has been great, always level,” said Deeney. “He doesn't get too carried away. He's the calm one, steadying the ship. He's hammered me a few times. It's been golden. People don't realise, when you are captain you do what you are told. When someone treats you like a man and with respect, you reciprocate and the gaffer has done that.

“He handled me having a baby... and for the first time in eight years I have been treated like a proper man [by giving me two days off]. He trusted me to look after myself and not abuse my body. I'm not even fit yet, that's the best part.”

Deeney has three goals in two home games and not many in the history of this club get the fans going like he does. The supporters feed off his all-action approach and that has been missed during his injury lay-off.

“You can't expect fans to pay their hard-earned money and come here and be great all the time when we lose,” he said. “They've got a right to hammer us when we have been bad. We have been bad at times but it's up to the players to create the atmosphere. The fans want to see hard work and people fighting for the shirt. If you chase a ball down, if you win a tackle you weren't meant to or win a header, it gets the crowd involved.

“They've seen that in the last few weeks and the atmosphere has gone through the roof. We need to make this a fortress and a hard place to play. We've got a massive foundation [to build on] and we've still got Cleverley and Welbeck, players of this nature, to come back. We are a proper outfit.”