16/10/2017

Under-23 Report | Watford 3-0 Colchester

Watford Under-23s surfed on the back of the wave created by the first-team this afternoon, defeating Colchester United to further add to the feel-good factor around the club.
 
At the scene of the exhilarating win over Arsenal, Hayden Mullins’ young side rose to the occasion of playing on the carpet of a pitch at Vicarage Road and won the Professional Development League game against a side coached by former Hornet Wayne Brown with ease to end a spell of three straight league defeats. 
 
Watford won it with two goals in the space of nine first-half minutes from Brice Dja Djédjé and Michael Folivi, before the pair combined for the latter to slot in his second on 72 minutes. It was all quite straight-forward.
 
Two members of Marco Silva’s coaching staff were present and they would no doubt have been impressed. They were there, in part, to run the rule over Daniel Bachmann in goal but, such was Watford’s control, he barely had a save to make.

There was cause for alarm late on when the big Austrian was left flat out following a corner. He took a while to get to his feet but, thankfully, left the pitch unaided and was substituted just as a precaution.
 
The game was a slow burner and took a while to come to life. Indeed the only goalmouth action in the first 30 minutes was a header from Joy Mukena, craning his neck, nodded over at the far post after Folivi stood the ball up.
 
From the half-hour mark, though, Watford began to be more assertive and seized control of the game. 
 
Two minutes after Brandon Mason let fly with a rasping, rising effort that was tipped over the bar, Folivi won a penalty following a short corner with Dja Djédjé. Folivi took the last penalty at Southampton, and scored, but the Ivorian pulled rank this time and made no mistake, drilling the ball low into the far left-hand corner. 

Dja Djédjé was now a man on a mission and he was leading the press soon after, which was typical of the commitment he’s shown in his last three games playing for this side.

Charlie Rowan followed his lead and took one in the midriff soon after. It was exactly the sort of spirit Mullins would have been after following a dodgy run of form.
 
The Hornets were now doing all the dirty work, putting in the hard yards and making most of the running, but they also had that bit of extra quality on the ball, evident when Folivi scored the second on 44 minutes. Picking up the ball on the left, the striker cut across the edge of the box, took a touch, steadied himself before firing into the far bottom right-hand corner. It was a clinically taken goal. 
 
Had Rowan shown similar killer instinct, at the far post from a corner, then Watford would have been three goals to the good immediately after half-time.

But the commitment was still high, still running like a hot streak through this side, none more so when Rowan and Andrew Eleftheriou clattered into each other in an attempt to block an attempt on goal. It meant that much to keep a clean sheet.
 
Watford were more cultured at the other end and wrapped things up when the overlapping Eleftheriou picked out Dja Djédjé at the far post. The Ivory Coast international, who showed a good awareness of space all afternoon, cushioned the ball to Folivi and he bent the ball into the far corner. Game, set and match.

HORNETS | Bachmann (Gartside, 83); Rowan, Ryan, Mukena; Eleftheriou (Sesay, 78), Stewart, Dja Djédjé, Mason; Pereira (Charles, 68); Folivi, Williams.

Subs not used | Huja, Bradbury.

First Team 16/10/2017

Cleverley | “Definitely Worth The Wait”

As if there was ever any doubt, the scenes that followed Tom Cleverley’s injury time winner against Arsenal confirmed just what a first goal since returning to the club meant to the Watford midfielder.

Speaking to watfordfc.com after full-time, Cleverley – who last found the net for the Hornets in 2010 – said: “The last time I was here I scored a few goals and you get a real buzz, but a last-minute winner against Arsenal was definitely worth the wait. At the Rookery end, as well!

“I just remember there were a few ricochets and it fell to Capoue, and he had a blocked shot.

“I had a little gamble on the edge of the box, it fell really nicely for me and I thought with people sliding in I’ve got to go higher, so I just stuck it into the roof of the net and thankfully it went in.

“It’s by far the best moment I’ve had since I’ve been back. In my first game I hit the post against Middlesbrough but this was even sweeter. I’ll have a big smile on my face tonight.”

The introduction of Troy Deeney with just under half-an-hour remaining seemed to change the game for the Hornets, and Cleverley pointed to that as further evidence of the strong options available to Marco Silva this season.

“The whole squad has been fantastic, there’s been massive consistency and massive performances, and Troy made a real difference today,” he said.

“Andre [Gray] has been brilliant for us but that shows the strength in our squad and the quality we’ve got in all positions.

“Troy really bullied them and made things happen. He got his goal and we really gathered momentum when he came on.”

Last-minute goals in three successive games point to a real strength of character within the Hornets’ squad, and Cleverley admitted it’s a group of players he’s thoroughly enjoying working with.

“With this squad of players and staff, you look forward to going into work on a Monday,” he said.

“It’s a really good bunch of lads, so it’s a mixture of doing it for them and personally not scoring for a while, a lot of emotion came out in the celebration and it was a really good moment.”

Watch the full post-match interview with Cleverley above - free to view, so sign-up required.

EXTENDED HIGHLIGHTS | WATFORD 2-1 ARSENAL


A cock-a-hoop Tom Cleverley believes the late, late goals Watford keep plundering with such dramatic effect is testament to the mentality shift Marco Silva has orchestrated at Vicarage Road.

The trailblazing Golden Boys became on Saturday the first side in the storied history of the Premier League to score result-altering goals in three successive matches.

When you throw in the one Miguel Britos scrambled in against Liverpool, the Hornets have now won six points in stoppage time and added further credence to the growing belief that Silva has won both the hearts and the minds of the players. 

"Since he's come in he's tried to change our mentality and not be a club that maybe settles for a draw," said Cleverley, speaking to Talksport's Jim White on Monday.

"The mentality change has been the biggest thing. He's done that quicker than he thought. He's turned us into a club that believes in ourselves in every game. What he said at half-time on Saturday changed the game. We were tentative. I thought we looked very fit at the end, kept going and weren't settling for just a point."

Silva has dramatically announced his era as Head Coach amid a series of late goals which have garnished some high energy and electric team performances. This group is clearly playing for him and one another and, according to Cleverley, it's all a result of the work taking place on the training ground.

"As as a manger he's got that perfect balance of having a fear factor and being approachable at the same time," said the midfielder.

"He's got a real good balance of doing tactical work and also sharp intense work, the six or seven-a-side stuff the lads enjoy. Everyone knows where they've got to be on a Saturday and we work hard on set-pieces. The lads are enjoying it and it's fun."

Troy Deeney feels Cleverley has been Watford's stand-out player this season and it would take a brave man to disagree with the captain. He's already looking like a contender to win the club's Player of the Year Award for a second time.

The summer signing from Everton has flourished in a new role as the most advanced central midfielder, setting the tone for the team's high press and acting as a smart conduit between the holding midfielders and the lone striker. And now, just to top it off, he's popping up with a goal.

"I played as an out-and-out central midfielder at the weekend but I've been playing a bit further up," said Cleverley.

"The manager has given us freedom to get forward and there were two midfielders in the box in the last minute on Saturday. I've started every game I've been eligible to play in [since I joined on loan]. The icing on the cake would be to add more goals to my game and hopefully they can come. I'm really enjoying my football and it helps when you've got a good bunch of lads and are on a good run of results."