Manchester City have spent a staggering £134.7m on centre-halves since August 2008 yet are still over reliant on Vincent Kompany. Craig Cathcart, Miguel Britos and Sebastian Prödl, the other hand, haven’t cost Watford a single penny which just goes to show money isn’t everything and spending a fortune doesn’t guarantee you anything.
Neither does having 20 plus Premier League points by December. Just ask Cathcart.
He was part of the Blackpool side who, in 2010, won away at Wigan Athletic, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Stoke City and Sunderland and had 25 points in the bag three days after Christmas. They only needed 15 more from the remaining 51 points available to reach the apparent magical 40-point mark. They fell one short and were relegated by a point.
“I’ve learned from that experience,” said Cathcart. “So you can’t rely on saying we’re going to be OK. Maybe it was a little bit of complacency that crept in. Some of the lads [at Blackpool] were saying we’ll be safe by February, March and we were taking our eye off the ball a little bit. I’ll be relaying that to the rest of the lads. We ended up going down by one point, which was obviously devastating at the time, but that’s the Premier League, it’s the toughest league in the world.”
Isn’t it just. It took Watford 38 and 33 games respectively to achieve the 22-point mark in 1999/2000 and 2006/07. Yet Quique Sanchez Flores’ Watford have that many after 15 games and have won back-to-back league games three times this season, something Graham Taylor managed once in the club’s first spell in the Premier League and Aidy Boothroyd never did.
“You have to take each game as it comes, and I think we’ve been doing that,” said Catchart. “We’ve won two games on the bounce three times now, which is a difficult thing to do in this league, so there are a lot of positives.”
A key factor in Watford’s rise to ninth in the table is their form against teams below them in the table. So far, the Hornets have played eight games against teams in the bottom 10, winning four drawing four, scoring 11 and conceding just six. Troy Deeney often talks about the teams in Watford’s mini-league.
“As a team that’s just come up from the Championship, you know you have to beat the teams that are going to be around you,” said Cathcart. “They’re going to be your most important games, so I think picking up the wins against those teams is obviously a big bonus. But we’re playing teams that are above us as well and we’re not looking out of place at all.”