Billy Hawkins discusses the latest news at Vicarage Road this week in his regular column, Away From Home
Losing Oscar Garcia is something that either everyone saw coming, or no one saw coming – I certainly feel like I am at least in the latter camp.
Despite his illness and spell in hospital, I believed he would overcome the obstacles to lead Watford out for more than one match. However, his 100% loss record as manager will surely go down in history as the worst ever experienced at Vicarage Road – making it the only thing that prevents his name from becoming nothing more than a footnote in the annals of Hornets history.
A new manager resulted in more upheaval, and I for one am delighted that Billy McKinlay was named head coach. Having only been appointed first-team coach a couple of days prior to his promotion, I know he cannot be held in the same bracket as Malky Mackay and Sean Dyche, but there is something rewarding with seeing a coach promoted from within – and he is a reputed name in the coaching world.
Taking charge of his first game the day after his appointment to the head coach role, McKinlay catalysed the performances of a number of players, and oversaw the most threatening first-half seen at the Vic so far this season. Watford surely should have been two or three goals up inside the first 20 minutes, and, although the performance dipped as the game wore on, there was an energy that has been absent this season; the final minutes of the 4-2 victory over Huddersfield is the only game to match it for intensity.
McKinlay also gave a league start to the illusive Diego Fabbrini, who still appears to be unsuited to the English game. Too many touches of the ball sees him lose possession on a regular basis, and, after successfully beating a man, he has too little pace to take advantage.
However, he does one thing that no one else in yesterday`s starting line up does on a regular enough basis: shows a willingness to collect the ball.
Too often passes have been misplaced due to the static nature of the entire team, with players unwilling to drop deep to make an easy pass available. Fabbrini made himself available at every opportunity, and, although he generally lost the ball upon claiming it, the rest of the squad could learn from his eagerness to hold possession of the ball.
A word of praise must go out to a certain Czech striker who looks to be returning the player that graced the Championship two years ago. Matej Vydra has now netted three goals in his last four games, and has really stepped up his game in the absence of Troy Deeney. He never fails to put the effort in for the good of the team, and, with the return of his acute finishing skills, he is once again becoming a player far too good for this division.
All that remains to be seen is if he can continue to impress when Deeney returns to the side.