First Team 08/04/2019

Murphy: “A Better Story To See Deeney Lift The FA Cup”

BBC pundit and FA Cup winner Danny Murphy says it “would be a better story” to see Troy Deeney lift the world’s most famous trophy.

Watford booked their place in the showpiece final against Manchester City with a remarkable comeback against Wolves on Sunday, overturning a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 after extra time.

After Gerard Deulofeu’s scintillating chip pulled one back, Hornets skipper Deeney was upended in the box before demonstrating incredible composure to rifle the resulting penalty beyond John Ruddy to restore parity.

Deulofeu’s second completed an unforgettable turnaround and ensure it would be Watford who face City on 18 May.

But Murphy, who lifted the trophy himself in 2001 with Liverpool, believes it is the example of skipper Deeney that must be commended, especially when you look at his journey to the upper echelons of English football.

“We talk about role models in football,” he said. “There is a responsibility that comes with being a footballer and you do have to sacrifice things.

“A role model isn't always someone who's always acted well but has come back from adversity, someone who has shown that even if things haven’t gone so well, you can still reach the top.

“Troy has played in non-league, looked after himself, worked hard to get up into the Football League and now the Premier League. When you ask yourself what is a role model, looking at someone like him if you’re a young player, he is someone you can relate to. He has been through it and came out on top.

“His attitude too, the way he conducts himself, the way he plays has to rub off on the rest of the team.

“That moment when he scored the penalty and the energy and passion he showed, you could see it. It was years and years of waiting for that moment.

“Although it would be an amazing thing to see Manchester City win the quadruple because they are a wonderful team, it would be a better story to see Troy lifting the FA Cup.”

First Team 08/04/2019

Gracia: “Players Want To Keep Going And Improve”

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia felt his history-making side showed just how deep their resolve runs after coming back from the brink to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in a breathless semi-final at Wembley.

The Hornets were dead and buried at 2-0 down with 12 minutes to go and staring down the barrel at a sixth defeat in seven matches at the home of English football, but then Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney inspired one of the great FA Cup turnarounds.

“It's not easy for me to explain the game,” said the Head Coach. “Before coming we knew it would be a tough game and very demanding. 

“When everything was lost, the team was able to show our character, our personality, our ambition and we believed we could win it until the end.” 

Gracia said he had no doubts that Deeney would slam in the equaliser from the spot in a highest of pressure situations. There were seconds left on the clock, then a delay while referee Michael Oliver checked VAR and yet still the captain rammed it past John Ruddy.

“Troy is our captain and important on the pitch and out of the pitch it as well,” he said. “In that moment, I had full confidence. I was calm as I knew he would score the second goal.”

The game provided a real test of Gracia's nerve and his coaching credentials. He set out his team very narrow and compact and then had to ask them to add some width into the game after they found themselves two goals down after 63 minutes. 

“During the game there were different moments, difficult moments,” he added. “In the first half when they scored, we had some chances. 

“In the second, we had more possession, more control of the game and we scored at the end. It was something amazing for us. We are very happy, very proud of the players and of all our supporters. In that moment we have lived together.”

Gracia reached a cup quarter-final with Malaga, a cup-semi final with Ruben Kazan and now he has a final in the greatest cup competition of them all to look forward to.

“There are always new moments and whether it is the best moment, you never know,” he said. “It was something special, yes. I just enjoy every day and my job is to do my best for Watford, for the supporters.”

The team have been given three well-earned days off before returning to prepare for the visit of Arsenal on Monday in what promises to be a celebratory atmosphere at Vicarage Road.

“We have time to enjoy this victory,” said Gracia. “But we have six games left in the Premier League and I'm sure the players don't want to stop. 

“We want to achieve the best position in the Premier League. We saw today their character. They want to keep going and improve every day.”