Journalism student Billy Hawkins is feeling positive after a good week for the Hornets
WELL, it would appear as if the turnaround is occurring.
Following the draw away at Turf Moor – a game in which defensive solidity was the basis for the result – Watford once again returned to their old selves in the 3-3 draw at Leeds; all defensive errors and counterattacking goals ingrained in their footballing culture.
For all the pessimism that has surrounded Vicarage Road in recent – and for some, not so recent – weeks, it appears as if a return to style and form is slowly but surely happening.
Yet, for all the positives to be taken out of the subtle change in fortune experienced by the team, there is still one exceedingly important question which has surfaced in the last few weeks; is it now too late for the expectation of promotion?
No one could have foreseen the climactic end to last season – with the teams seemingly destined for Play-Off places losing every week, as if no one wanted to face the potential despair of a lottery system – just as no one predicted Watford to be just one goalkeeping injury and one goalkeeping mistake away from automatic promotion.
Whereas this season – as pundits, teams and fans become acclimatised to the Watford ethos – the sense of expectation is higher, and most media outlets had Watford as strong favourites for at least a final position in the Play-Off places.
As Zola’s team stumbled and faltered week after week – culminating in the 3-0 defeat to Yeovil – the squad – consisting of individuals rather than a group – slipped further and further away from the emotional support of the fan.
In the true footballing sense of unreliability, it is impossible to tell who will be in the running so late in the season – although the likelihood of QPR. grinding out results is high – and, from experiencing last season, every club knows that a run of form – such as Watford’s, post-Brighton away – will push them up the table, and that a string of defeats will ultimately rule them out.
Knowing that the two most recent results could signal a change in form, a return to a more prosperous time, it is good to think that this could be the end of a seemingly disastrous run that has inhibited the squad since last seasons draw with Wolves.
Many will say – myself included – that it means Watford can push on once again – they lie still only 6 points off the Play-Off spots – and secure themselves a chance for promotion in the second half of the season.
It was only about this time last season that Watford found their rhythm – the seven games unbeaten in November and December were a real turning point – and, if they can find a remnant of that form in the next few weeks, the miserabilists will return to hiding and optimism will abound Vicarage Road.