Deeney: “Everyone’s Buzzing”
Watch the interview above, or read on to hear from the Hornets' captain ahead of the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
Watford's skipper Troy Deeney, always willing to give an honest opinion or two, was the first member of the Watford squad to face up to the broadcast media on pre-match duties ahead of the first match of the 2018/19 Premier League season.
He spoke about the benefit of work undertaken in pre-season, both personally and as a team, and where the Hornets should be aiming to finish in the table.
“We’ve had a great pre-season in terms of the hard work we’ve done,” said Deeney. “We haven’t lost a game, so the confidence is really high. Everyone’s buzzing.
“I think we’ve got to be aiming for top-10 - that will be our mini-league, to try and be the best of the rest essentially.
“We don’t have the budget of the other teams, but we certainly have a great playing squad. We need to be lucky, in terms of injuries and stuff like that, but Burnley proved it last year - it’s not necessarily about having a massive budget, it’s having a togetherness and a willingness to do whatever you need to do to win games.”
With Deeney heading into his ninth season at the club since joining from Walsall in August 2010, the Golden Boys' captain is pleased when he reflects on his and the club's parallel progress.
“I’m 30, and nine seasons at Watford is huge,” said the skipper. “When I think about it like that it’s a big statement, not only from the club, but from myself, that I can have that kind of staying power.
“In a time when everyone gets moved on very quickly, the owner is very clear in terms of 'if you want to stay, come and work for it', and I’ve proved that this pre-season. I’ve lost some weight, I’m moving better, and I’ve scored a few goals in pre-season and everyone’s happy.
“My aim is to stay here as long as possible, but also I’m not stupid - if we finish in the top 10 and the club decides they want to kick-on and try and get into the top six and spend a lot of money on a striker then I’ll have to play my position accordingly.”
Wearing the armband brings the best out of the Birmingham-born forward, in his own eyes, as he always feels he performs better when there is more expected of him.
“[Being a leader] is just my personality anyway, to be perfectly honest,” said Deeney. “I’m quite dominant. I like to have my say - it gets me in trouble a lot of times but I do enjoy the role of leadership and the expectation and pressure it puts on me is really good.
“The thought of coming to work and not having any expectation on me makes me feel a bit sick. I like it because it keeps me on edge.”
And, with the opening league game against Brighton little more than 24 hours away, everyone at the club, including Deeney, is excited to get down to business. But, Brighton should not be underestimated after securing their safety with a 15th-placed finish last season.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Chris Hughton,” said the forward. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t get anyway near as much credit as he deserves.
“[Brighton have] good management, a great set-up, and there’s some decent players in there as well - [Anthony] Knockaert, [José] Izquierdo, Glenn Murray, Lewis Dunk - a lot of boys that have gone under the radar, but had an unbelievable season.
“What they are going to find this year - what we found - is that season two is very difficult, because you’re not taken lightly, you’re not an unknown quantity.
“So, there’s a lot of pressure on them as well, but we’re confident playing at home in the first game of the season, with the pre-season we’ve had, that we can definitely get a good result.”
That’s the difference a week makes at this time of year, all of a sudden everything counts. But Deeney says there’s nothing else like it.
He said: “I know what I’m like in pre-season, I enjoy it to an extent because you’re getting your minutes and your fitness in.
“But, once the whistle goes on Saturday and the crowd is full and there’s a meaning to the game - in terms of win, lose, or draw - then it’ll be completely different.
“The first game of the season is always full of surprises.”