Ahead of the trip to Vicarage Road, TEB had a chat with Andy Lewers from The Hornets’ Nest and the Stairway To Seventh podcast about the season so far, the game and much more.
Q. Looking back, how do you rank last season, now that the dust has settled?
Last season, whilst it ultimately ended in disappointment, was an absolute blast. Despite the result; to have at least experienced the journey and the emotional rollercoaster of reaching an FA Cup Final is something I will cherish forever, as it may be the only time I ever get to experience something so special with my family and friends.
Q. What were your hopes for the season and how does that compare with how the season has gone so far?
Before the season started I was hopeful of a comfortable top ten finish. I didn’t think we’d be challenging for Europe again but I think it’s fair to say it’s certainly not gone to plan so far! I don’t think even the most pessimistic of Watford fans anticipated us being rock bottom of the table, starring relegation in the face.
Q. So you bid a fond farewell to another manager – what is going on at Vicarage Road?
We’re an absolute mess this season, though I don’t think all the blame lies with both Gracia and Flores. Watford’s recruitment for the past few transfer windows has been awful. We have failed to address serious issues at both centre back and up front and stood still for far too long. All the while other teams around us have been improving and our squad has been getting older and stale. We can sack as many head coaches as we like, but until we recruit sensibly in areas that desperately need addressing, we won’t see any improvement.
Q. How was the summer transfer window for the club? Were all needs addressed?
In a word; no, the issues were not addressed. We were crying out for defensive reinforcements and the only defender we brought in was Craig Dawson from Championship side West Brom. Don’t be surprised if Watford panic buy a whole heap of players in January.
Q. The introduction of VAR this season has not gone to plan so far – what is your view of the system and how it is being used?
Firstly, I should point out that I have always been pro-VAR, however, the way it is being utilised has been nothing short of farcical. Sadly, whilst we have the technology, the decisions being made behind the screen are still prone to human error. We’ve already had apologies from referees for admitting they got VAR checks wrong in our games; the handball in the build up to Newcastle’s equaliser, the penalty we should have received at Spurs, the handball before Southampton’s equaliser last weekend. What also irks me is the fact the paying fans in the ground get either one or zero replays of the incident and are not offered any sort of update on why the decision is made. Communication is key and it is unfair on those at the ground to be left scratching their heads. Football could learn a lot from rugby and cricket.
Q. One to watch for Watford this season?
There’s not many…! I honestly don’t know. If I had to pick one it would be Ismaila Sarr, new record-signing and will hopefully start to be given more game time to show us what he’s capable of.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
We’re crying out for some sort of defensive stability; for that reason I would pick Patrick van Aanholt. A Palace regular who isn’t afraid to get forward and can chip in with the odd goal here and there.
Q. Which Watford player do Palace need to keep an eye on in the game?
He blows hot and cold, but Gerard Deulofeu is capable of changing a game in the blink of an eye. When he’s on song he can run rings around defenders, we just have to rely on him turning up as it’s sadly never a given.
Q. Perhaps you could share your views on what you expect from Palace this season?
I like the look of Palace this season; you’ve just come through a really tricky set of fixtures and now have some favourable ones heading into Christmas. Roy Hodgson has developed a side with some good defensive stability, but with the creativity needed going forward. I’ve also been impressed with the way the majority of Palace fans haven’t been critical of Wilfried Zaha, despite him handing in a transfer request over the summer.
Q. Your prediction?
Something needs to change at Watford and quickly and I think a change of formation from Hayden Mullins, maybe some new faces could give us the boost we need to finally get our first home win. Having said that of course Palace will be licking their lips at the prospect of playing us on Saturday! I can’t ever predict anything other than a Watford win, so I’ll go for a nervy 2-1, but sadly I’ve reached the stage where it wouldn’t surprise me if you take all three points.