First Team 15/05/2019

Smith: “Anything Can Happen”

By Kevin Affleck

Tommy Smith knows all about facing an expectant Manchester City side and just what the pressure of being huge favourites can do.

Smith was in the Queens Park Rangers squad on that barmy day in May 2012 when City produced one of the great escapology acts to score two goals in stoppage time, including that memorable winner from Sergio Agüero, to clinch the Premier League title.

But it was about as far from plain sailing as you get as unfancied QPR came from one down to lead 2-1 with ten men and looked for so long to have ruined City's party.

“The script had already been written,” said Smith. “City were supposed to win comfortably and it was a party atmosphere at the start but the atmosphere quickly turned. Pressure does funny things and the fans really turned. It ended up being an incredible finish and to be part of that that was amazing. It was nerve-wracking as we needed Stoke to get a result at home to Bolton and I think Bolton were winning at one stage. We ended up being safe and it worked out well for us in the end, but it was one of those days when everything happened.”

Smith plays against Manchester City in 2006

Smith will be in the stands with his son, who is in the club’s Academy, with the rest of the Watford fans on Saturday and he is daring to dream.

“You just never know,” he said. “City have played a lot of games and they have been pushed all the way in the league by Liverpool. Wigan beat them in the [2013] final and Watford are a better team than Wigan. They can dig in and work hard but they’ve also got some good players who can change the game. City won't be taking Watford lightly. 

“Javi Gracia is a very good coach and he’s shown what a bright guy he is this season. He got a lot of good results in Spain and this is another one-off game. Anything can happen.”

First Team 14/05/2019

Deeney: “I'll Get To Introduce The Team To Royalty”

Troy Deeney never thought he would have the chance to meet royalty – but the Watford captain could have the opportunity to introduce his side to Prince William on Saturday.

The Duke of Cambridge is set to attend this weekend’s FA Cup final between the Hornets and Manchester City and will meet both teams prior to kick-off before awarding the trophy to the winner.

Deeney, who had a challenging upbringing in Chelmsley Wood, has become a key figure for the Golden Boys and admitted the chance to meet the Prince is one of a number of little details that have brought the magnitude of Saturday’s match to the fore.

However, the 30-year-old is bullish about Watford’s chances too, saying the Hornets “didn’t get called out for a lucky ticket” to be in the final.

The skipper insists Javi Gracia’s side have earned the right to face City after a thrilling cup run that has seen Woking, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers all swept aside.

After a record-breaking season for the Golden Boys in the Premier League, there is now just one game remaining in the 2018/19 season – and it’s the biggest and most highly-anticipated one of all.

“Only in the last 10 days or so has it started to sink in what it really means,” said Deeney.

“I'm from low income housing and we don't get to meet royalty and if I'm starting I'll get to introduce my team to royalty.

“I've been involved in every game in some way. There's going to be a good showing back home from my lot. I want to show it's not a one-off.

“Tactically, Javi will have us spot on but the biggest thing this season has been the fitness. Yes, there's the odd injury here and there but he'll know what to do and for him it's about enjoying it as well.

“He's been great – he’s a lovely human being. He never comes out and talks about what he did. It's always what the players did.

“We didn't get called out for a lucky ticket from a raffle to play in the final against City, we earned it.

“We understand what we need to do, and we've got the quality to score goals.

“We’re not little old Watford any more - we’re becoming a team others don't want to play.”

Saturday may also mark the end of Heurelho Gomes’ time at the club after five successful seasons with the Hornets, after the Brazilian admitted he is “99 per cent certain” he's hanging up his gloves.

Deeney is grateful to have shared the pitch and the dressing room with the fan favourite and thinks there may be a touch of fate about this cup run.

“He's not just a great goalkeeper, he's a great human being,” he added. “He inspires me to be a better person because of how he is.

“We had a moment after Crystal Palace [in the quarter-final] where he was caught on camera crying, and you just think it might be his moment of destiny.”