Thank you to all supporters who came along to the ‘At Our Place’ event on Wednesday, which was once again an open, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable evening at Vicarage Road.
Read on below for some of the key points from the evening.
On Javi Gracia and his style of management:
Daryl Janmaat - First of all I think he is a really nice guy, and a really good manager as well. Everything is positive, but he can get angry as well and I think that is really important. Sometimes you have to get angry at half-time when things are not right - he has to tell the truth - and I think he does it well.
Ben Foster - That’s his style - that calmer approach - and I think grown-up men appreciate that.
Scott Duxbury - Javi’s new contract, which has all been agreed now and he’ll sign it next week, is another piece of the jigsaw. We haven’t purposely removed managers, we’ve tried to find somebody that can work with us and understands what our model is and Javi fits perfectly.
Ben Foster on coming back to Watford:
The two years in that Aidy Boothroyd period were brilliant - I absolutely loved it and I still see Aidy quite a bit now. It was massive in me coming back, there was nobody else in the summer - it wasn’t really an option to be honest with you - I wasn’t trying to leave, but when I heard Watford were interested it was a massive draw.
It was probably one of the only teams I would have come to. I’m a creature of habit - I like knowing what I know and knowing the people that I’ve gone into work with for the last seven years day in, day out, meant it was a wrench to leave but as soon as I heard Watford were interested I was like ‘okay, let’s go for it’, and I’m glad I did.
One of the first things I did was come straight to the stadium, and that’s changed massively. We walked out onto the pitch and I was just like ‘phwoar!’ - even the pitch is perfect. We used to share with Saracens - that was horrible!
Around the training ground with the attention to detail, after being at West Brom for seven years, Watford are that next level up. They really are geared to top-half Premier League football.
Daryl Janmaat on social media and taking criticism:
I don’t read any forums or social media. Match of the Day I watch, but that’s part of the job as well - taking criticisms. You have to handle it, otherwise it’s better to look for another job!
You always get criticisms, but for me it doesn’t give me any benefit. I think the most important thing is trusting yourself, believing in yourself and accepting that you will play a bad game sometimes because everybody has bad days - even you guys at work cannot be perfect every single day. That’s how I’ve looked at it for 12 years and it’s done me good.
On just how good the Hornets are, and where this side can finish this season:
Ben Foster - I don’t know about you guys but from where I’m standing in the first half at Wolves I was looking round and thinking ‘phwoar! God we’re good!’
It’s that next level. At West Brom we always got the feeling it was going to be a battle every season, but I think we’re a definite top 10 team now - not just the players on the pitch, but the set-up at the training ground too.
I think we’ll finish in the top-half, we’re a top-half team. There’s no way there’s 10 teams better than us in this league. But then you’re talking about the minutest detail to edge up to sixth, seventh or eighth.
Scott Duxbury - The future looks really bright. What we’ve done off the pitch is made sure that we’re keeping pace, if not out-pacing the development on the pitch.
The stadium looks fantastic and there's been investment in the training ground, and we haven’t finished. We’re going to continue, we’re going to push the club forward, and with the players we have, the squad we have, it’s an exciting time. We can never afford to take our eye off the ball, we can never afford to be complacent, but I think we’re in really good shape.
I think we can finish anywhere, because our potential is huge. This squad can achieve anything. The one thing Javi says, which I love, is that we just take each game as it comes. We believe we can win each game and let’s see where that takes us.
Javi Gracia - I think it depends on the players. They are good professionals. When I arrived, there were a lot of problems because there were a lot of players injured, with bad results, and it wasn’t easy to change the dynamic. But, starting with a draw against Stoke, and after that winning against Chelsea at home, they were the results we needed in that moment.
I think during the season the team will play better, and other times will play worse, but what I can say of these players is always they are going to compete.
I am only thinking about Liverpool - I think it is the best way to achieve something amazing in the future. It is better to take things step-by-step, and I think the best position in the Premier League was 13th, so we will try to improve that, but while always thinking 'we need the next three points'. I am obsessed only with the next game.
Scott Duxbury - We want all our players to be successful, and as I’ve always said, their success is mutually compatible with the club’s success. If a player moves on it’s because it’s right for both of us and we will certainly benefit from that technically.
I’ve had the conversation with Javi and with Gino. This isn’t Football Manager, this is real life - there’s going to be some senior internationals sitting in the stand. Peñaranda has now been added to the squad so I don’t see anything happening in January. At some point we have to be happy with what we have and develop it.
It’s very difficult for Javi to manage, because players want to play, they are not happy sat on the bench or in the stand. If we start bringing in players because we think this is Football Manager, then we are going to stop the development of this football club.
We will always look to improve, but we have to believe in our younger players, develop them and give them a chance, and that means sometimes avoiding temptation when the window opens. It doesn’t mean we lack ambition, or that we are not going to be competitive. On the contrary, it means we believe in Javi, we believe in the young players we have got, we believe in the squad and we believe that by staying with what we have got and letting it grow, we are going to achieve success.
Javi Gracia - I am happy with the players I have, and as Scott says it is not easy to manage. Tomorrow [Thursday] we train with 27 players and I am thinking I have to put out nine players for the next game. It is not fair because all of them deserve more. But I know this is football, it is my job, and I have to take decisions.
I know the club doesn’t stop working on the future and is always ambitious, but in this moment I think we have to believe in the players we have. We have young players, and players with experience, and we have a lot of players waiting for their chance to play.
Scott Duxbury on ground expansion:
The ground expansion will continue, but there’s not going to be a big announcement that we’re suddenly developing a stand. At the moment the north-west corner is being developed - we’re going to have wrap-around seats so that the corner is filled-in, and there’s going to be a new lounge and supporters’ bar. That’s being built now and will come online around May.
Populus are finishing a study to see how we can get the capacity to 30,000 - how we are going to do that, what the cost will be - and that’s going to be the road-map for us to implement each stage for us to get there.
The development is happening now, it will continue to happen, and we’ll continue to do the works without disrupting the current capacity. We have to phase it in.