At look back at last season month by month
September was a month that tested the patience of the Watford fans as the new team settled into English football and developed together. It started with a heavy defeat at Derby County but as the month wore on progress was evident and the team was coming together in a way which made a promotion challenge look very possible. Especially pivotal was the away victory at Huddersfield at the end of the month as the Hornets settled into their new formation.
September started with Watford feeling the effects of Martin Taylor’s departure to Sheffield Wednesday on deadline day, the night before the trip to Derby. Carl Dickinson manfully stepped in as a makeshift centre back but that couldn’t stop the Hornets going down to their heaviest defeat of the season 5-1 at Pride Park. The game was notable for the first appearances of Marco Cassetti and Cristan Battocchio as Watford began to integrate the new faces into the squad after the crazy end to the transfer window.
Then came the two week September international break, a crucial two weeks in which Watford could catch their breath after a hectic few days at the end of the transfer window culminating in defeat at Derby. New faces were integrated and the style of play worked on, although that didn’t immediately bear fruition. What did emerge during the international break was that club captain John Eustace would miss a significant period of the season after undergoing a back operation after picking up an injury on the opening day at Crystal Palace.
The first two matches after the break also ended in defeat, 2-1 at Bolton Wanderes followed by a 1-0 home reverse against Gus Poyet’s Brighton & Hove Albion. It was the Hornets dodgy defending which was the cause of their problems at Bolton after they conceded two goals from set pieces in the first half. Watford did mount a comeback though, which suggested their was some substance to their stylish side, with Lloyd Doyley creating another magical moment with his second career goal, but an equaliser could not be forced.
The Brighton game showed a further fragility with coming to terms with the adaption to the game of playing out from the back. On that particular evening Neuton was guilty of taking a risk at the back which lead to a turnover of possession and penalty given away as a result of a desperate tackle from Pudil. Mackail-Smith scored and consigned Watford to three straight defeats.
The following game against Bristol City at Vicarage Road was a game where things looked like they had started to come together on the pitch. Defensive weaknesses remained as Watford threw away the lead twice in a 2-2 draw but there were many positives. Nathaniel Chalobah started his first match of the season and immediately looked the part. Matej Vydra scored a cracking second goal which was a real sign of the quality that we would come to see.
Perhaps the most significant part of the day was the return of Troy Deeney. Released from prison after he was convicted of affray, the striker made a 30 minute substitute appearance and even in that cameo added a new dimension to the team: some strength, pace and power at the top end of the pitch.
The following week`s victory at Huddersfield, the first for four games, was to prove a real turning point in the season.
Despite falling behind and then throwing away the lead Watford did overcome the Terriers to win the game 3-2. Deeney made his first start of the season and was imperious. Forestieri had his best game in a Watford shirt yet, and scored one and won the last minute penalty which Deeney converted for victory.
There was also a switch of formation from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2 with Fitz Hall and youngster Tommie Hoban making their first starts of the season. They would become mainstays of the back three. And more than ability and formations the Hornets were showing an increasing ability to dig out results and become well drilled in all the British qualities those outside the club questioned they had. It was a good job they did, because as October proved they sure needed them!