Watford host Leeds United today in the SkyBet Championship, following a solid away win at Rotherham that ended up causing a stir away from the pitch, with some media outlets suggesting head coach Beppe Sannino may not be in charge for much longer.
The Hornets beat the Millers 2-0 last time out, in an away win that should have pleased fans, staff and players alike, however it was the celebration of winger Lloyd Dyer upon scoring the opener that became the talking point after the game.
Since Dyer’s outward display of hostility towards Sannino upon scoring his goal, the Watford Observer suggested that Sannino’s reign as Watford’s head coach is in serious doubt.
The problems behind the scenes were at first assumed to be to do with the difficulty of giving certain members of the squad enough game time, however many first team players are reportedly unhappy with the head coach specifically, and that it is not due to a lack of time on the pitch.
The club have yet to comment, and since Tuesday night Sannino has refused to answer questions about these issues.
Whether the Watford Observer reports are accurate and we are on the brink of seeing a new man in charge at Vicarage Road remains to be seen.
After winning one and losing two of their opening fixtures in the Championship this season, Leeds will be looking to improve on their current form in order to get their season on the right track.
With 11 new signings over the summer, the Yorkshire club has a relatively new look to it, with former Watford Under-18s boss David Hockaday taking charge of a far more cosmopolitan squad than he was perhaps used to at former club Forest Green Rovers.
The Italian contingent has grown since Massimo Cellini’s well-publiscised takeover of the club last season, with summer signings including Ternana striker Antenucci and Catania defender Bellusci.
Beppe Sannino, speaking to watfordfc.com:
“[Leeds] are a strong team and they lost on Tuesday. You should always be careful of a team who lost their last game as they can be angry.
“We have to continue our way. It is another match and we go searching for another win for the club and for the fans.
“The focus is my team and we then focus on the other team. I have the players that can play in different positions and formations.
“I would like to always see my team work in training. If I am happy for the work in the week then I have no problem. I will decide on the team after training on Friday.
“Then my staff and I can look at the opponents and their strengths.’
United coach David Hockaday, speaking to leedsunited.com:
“Watford away is a tough fixture for anybody and that will be no different for us. We`ll go there and we`ll be positive.
“We will play our game and we will try and impose ourselves on them and we`ll see where that takes us. But the main thing is that we want to put in a performance.
“The first half on Tuesday night [against Brighton] wasn`t good enough. The second half was good enough to get us something out of the game. We camped in their half and we went really brave.
“There were lots of positives to come from the game and we need to carry that on and take that into Saturday`s match.
“In regards to coaching at a senior level Watford was my first and we ended up getting promoted to the Premier League.
“I have got incredible memories of Watford as it is a great club. “They had a culture of producing young players and I think that is what English football should be all about.
“My job is here at Leeds and I will do everything I can to go there with Leeds and bring home three points.”
Watford Team News:
Matej Vydra is doubtful following a dead leg picked up against Rotherham in midweek.
Fellow striker Mathias Ranegie, however, has recovered from a groin injury and is available for selection against Leeds.
Defender Craig Cathcart remains out with a knee injury, with fellow centre half Joel Ekstrand also having to remain on the sidelines as he completes the second of his three-match ban following a straight red in the second minute away at Norwich last week.
Player to watch: Troy Deeney
A relatively quiet match against Rotherham United in the week will surely give Troy Deeney motivation to come out strongly against Leeds today.
The centre forward’s excellent record in the Championship is well-documented, as his the number nine’s allure to several Premier League clubs.
It is not yet known who will partner Deeney up front, or indeed whether we will play with two strikers today, given Matej Vydra’s dead leg injury, however Deeney’s presence in the starting eleven is a certainty given the Birmingham-born striker’s position as captain.
A handful for any Championship defence, Deeney will look to cause trouble and score goals from the off.
Leeds United Team News:
Leeds United’s new signing Mirco Antenucci will be available for the side at Watford on Saturday after receiving international clearance in time ahead of the fixture.
Giuseppe Bellusci could make his debut in defence after recently signing a permanent contract at Elland Road.
Player to watch: Billy Sharp
The player to watch for the away team is another British striker.
Leeds will be looking to Billy Sharp to score the goals this season following his recent move from Southampton.
Sharp has a good goalscoring record at this level, and scored on his debut against Middlesbrough last weekend.
Watford will need to make sure they make it difficult for Sharp, as if he gets a sight at goal he will punish the opposition.
A Leeds Fan’s View
United fan Tom Day:
‘This season I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself. I know the owner says he thinks we’ll be in the Premiership in the next two years or so, but as Watford fans know, it’s hard to get promoted with a brand new first team, regardless of how good the players are.
‘I will happy with anything in the top half, and if we’re in with a shout of the playoffs I’ll be absolutely over the moon.
‘I’ll be content with a draw [today], but maybe better if Sharp can get decent service.
‘Watford were far better than us last season and having watched Daniel Tozser in the past, he might be one of the most complete footballers I’ve seen in the Championship, so I hope Leeds have a plan to keep him quiet. If not, even a draw might be out of reach.’
Read more in our Opposing View article.
Although there is a creeping fear that the reported dressing room unrest will give us something akin to the 4-1 loss at home to Huddersfield at the end of last season, I don’t believe the players will capitulate in quite that manner given that something actually rides on this match.
Although Leeds are something of an unknown quantity given a number of their signings have no experience in English football, I do think they have a strong squad that will likely improve as the season goes on.
Should we play to our potential, I believe we should win this game. Our side is not a work-in-progress at all any more, unlike Leeds.
Despite Vydra being a doubt, we should have goals in us given the vast number of attacking options Sannino has at his disposal. Odion Ighalo was impressive when he came on against Rotherham and had a hand in both goals, and Fernando Forestieri was perhaps unlucky not to play a bigger part since his cameo in the 3-0 win against Bolton on the opening day yielded him a well-taken goal.
So, with this in mind, I will tentatively predict a solid victory for Watford, 3-1.
I’m not entirely convinced about our back line despite not conceding a goal with eleven men on the pitch, but I most certainly do think we will score goals.