It might not always be fun, but Andre Gray says the gruelling work being undertaken during pre-season is fundamental to Watford’s success in 2019/20.
The Hornets reported back on Monday (July 1) and have been on daily double sessions, combining medical testing with fitness exercises and even some ball work, all conducted during the hottest week of the year so far.
Reflecting on an intense first week back, the striker joked: “If anyone tells you they enjoy pre-season, they’re lying! I promise you that.
“I’d much rather just get to the games but you’re not physically capable of going straight into it, so we all get on with it because we know it needs to be done.
“No-one likes the running but we know it needs to be done, and when the balls do come out it’s always fun because that’s what we love to do.
“It’s just part and parcel of pre-season. Some of us have been around a long time now and have done many a pre-season before, so we know what it’s all about.”
And it’s not going to get any easier for Javi Gracia’s men, who will spend a second week at their London Colney training base before heading on tour to Austria.
“As pre-season goes on it usually ramps up, so next week and the week after it will get really, really tough,” said Gray, who is entering his third season with Watford.
“The first week is usually quite difficult but compared to the weeks after it’s just easing you in really.”
The work done this time last year is often credited by those within the Hornets’ squad as being crucial to the successful campaign that followed in 2018/19, with Watford reaching their second FA Cup final and achieving the club’s highest league position in 32 years.
Gray believes it’s just as much about creating the right environment off the pitch as it is preparing for what will happen on it.
“The togetherness we achieved in pre-season last year played a really big part. Everyone wanted to work hard and everyone wanted to do well, so this year should be even better,” he said.
“We know what we did last pre-season to get to where we were, so now we need to push that little bit more if we want to take that next step again.
“We all know that every year the Premier League gets harder and harder, so we know that we always have to be that one step ahead if we want to build on last year.
“We showed last season what we can do but to be honest we all know we can still do even more, so we need to push for that.”