It either says something about the bond created between the players and staff at Vicarage Road or how Quique Sanchez Flores got it wrong, for once, at Southampton but the head coach and the captain both jumped to the defence of Sebastian Prödl, and indeed the decision to restore him to the side, in the days after the galling Premier League defeat at St Mary’s.
There were widespread calls among the regular Watford watchers (yes, us included) to replace the recently out of sorts Cathcart with Prödl for the game on the south coast. It backfired, as Prödl played like he never had never met Miguel Britos before, let alone played alongside the Uruguayan. In the defence of the Austrian, John McClelland, the legendary Watford defender, could have played, in his pomp, at the heart of the Watford defence that night and it wouldn’t have made much difference.
“Did we miss Craig?” replied Deeney to a question from one of our reporters about the reshuffle at centre-half. “No, because he was replaced by a full international who is going to the Euros. If you say we missed Craig it is a bit disrespectful to Seb. Craig and Britos had never played together before Stoke City, so is not about people never playing together before.”
More by default than anything else, Cathcart and Prödl ended the match at centre-half, only the third time they have appeared on the field together since October 17. Britos looked perplexed when his number was held up on 72 minutes on Wednesday, standing in shock for a couple of seconds before eventually trudging off the pitch. Who the head coach picks tonight is anyone’s guess but he bristled at suggestions from a reporter than the pairing of Prödl and Britos was “an experiment”.
“It’s not an experiment,” said the head coach. “Prödl played really well in the first part of the season. He is a very good player. Britos is playing really well since I introduced him in the first XI. The problem [against Southampton] wasn’t the defensive line.”