Roy Hodgson has been encouraged by the work ethic of his squad after eight days as Watford manager and believes he and assistant Ray Lewington have communicated their philosophy with the group so far, but understands it is vital that the results reflect their hard work when they take on Burnley away from home on Saturday.
Taking on the 20th-placed Clarets, the Hornets are looking to escape the Premier League bottom three and climb up the table. Hodgson doesn’t underestimate the task and is excited to take up the role at Vicarage Road, relishing the challenge at hand.
“The teams at the bottom are all a bit adrift from the middle so we’ve got a lot of ground to make up,” he said.
“This particular league, in terms of relegation, is a dogfight.
“We don’t underestimate the task, but I know the board don’t underestimate it either. They are realistic, know it’s a big fight but believe the club are good enough to be in the league and they entrust Ray Lewington and myself the task of trying to mould them into a team that will get points in the remaining 18 games.”
Hodgson took up the role after seven months away from management, with his last post at Crystal Palace. A man-manager and experienced name, he has enjoyed working with the players over the past week and wants to see a committed performance at Turf Moor this weekend.
“I’ve been very happy with the response, their enthusiasm and their diligence. The work ethic is good and the spirit is fine,” said the new manager.
“When it comes to, ‘are you getting your message across?’, we'll find out in the next weeks and games, but I’m not certain Ray [Lewington] and I could have done more in terms of presenting the type of thing we’d like to see. It’s going to take more than a week or eight, nine days before we’re going to look back and say we’re satisfied.
“It’s a fascinating challenge, there are good players at the club and I have seen that, but I also had six or seven months away. When this job came up I was never going to turn it down, it was the siren call of the mermaid going past the sailor’s ship!
“I’m excited about working with them all, and pleased to be working with them. The response on the training field couldn’t have been better, in terms of people trying hard to impress us and do what they do as footballers.
“But the proof in the pudding is always in the eating. It’s going to be very important that the players react well to what they are asked to do, and produce the level of performances that are necessary.”
The former England boss seeks togetherness, and backing from the supporters. His message to the players centres heavily around hard work and desire, and hopes the loyal support in the stands can get behind the squad in a crucial part of the campaign.
“My message will be similar to many other managers they [the players] will work for. If you really want to succeed, especially when things are going against you, you need to show resilience, desire and effort to get yourself back into the position you need to be in. That message hasn’t changed from my very first club in 1976 to today. If you don’t have that desire and discipline, you’re not going to succeed as a player.
“[The supporters] have my sympathy and my empathy, we’re all supporters as well as professionals and want to see our club do well. I can only tell them from a personal point of view, we know what our mandate is and we will do our very best to fulfil that mandate.
“The word supporter is a very important word. We talk all about fans these days - short for fanatic - and you do want fanatical support but support is the key word. They’ve got to believe that we’re going to do our level best as coaches, managers and players to make certain that they have a Premier League team to support this year.”