Troy Deeney revealed he had what sounded like frank exchange of views with Odion Ighalo about his selfishness at Old Trafford, but admitted it is difficult to knock the Nigerian when only Jamie Vardy, Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez have scored more than him in the top flight this season.
Deeney was visibly annoyed at being ignored on at least one glaring occasion at the home of Manchester United last week, and the way he, along with several better-placed teammates, have , on occasions, thrown their hands up in frustration at Ighalo has been a common theme of the season. Even Quique Sanchez Flores and Watford representatives in the directors’ box turned away in disbelief at Ighalo’s decision making during the first half of the narrow defeat at the Theatre of Dreams.
“Of course, we had a discussion about the [missed] chances at the Man United game,” said Deeney. “He had his opinion and I had mine. We are both grown men. What we said will be left between us.”
Is it a case of pure greediness or is it a technical flaw in Ighalo’s game that he plays with his head down?
“It’s hard to explain,” said Deeney. “You can’t be hard on him when he’s done so well. Am I frustrated? Yes, of course I am but he hasn’t got 15 goals by passing it to me. United was one of those days that if he was out there for the next three or four days he wouldn’t have scored.”
One particularly reliable social media account, which has been an accurate source of information this season, feels Ighalo might pay the price for his recent form by losing his place on Sunday. While it’s hard to see Sanchez Flores leaving out his top-scorer for the most important game of the season, the head coach has shown he does not shy away from making big calls.
“Ighalo has chances during the match. but, at the moment, he’s not complete clear,” said Sanchez Flores yesterday.
Ighalo has one goal in his last eight and two in his last 13. “He just needs a goal and what he’s proved is that when he scores one he normally scores two or three straight away,” said Deeney.
Deeney has not been prolific of late, either – just two in his last 11 – but he spends most of his game-time doing lots of donkey work outside the box, sometimes on the right wing, much to his chagrin against Bournemouth.
“We had a discussion about the lack of goals earlier,” said Deeney yesterday. “Ideally we want everyone to score. We want me and Iggy to get 20 each, the midfielders to be on ten and the back four to score a few between them. When we were doing really well it was Iggy or myself getting us out of trouble but we are one of the few teams where everyone has chipped in and not just with goals. Sometimes Gomey, or Craig or Ben Watson have got us out of trouble or saved us. You have to remember that some people, the more attacking side of our team, left and that takes time to adjust to.”
Sanchez Flores makes no apologies for building Watford’s survival bid from the back and neither should he. Watford will stay up with plenty so spare. But he has probably allowed the balance to shift too far lately and been guilty of focussing too much on stopping the opposition as he seeks to inch Watford, point by point, towards the 40-point mark. He and his assistants spoke to the players yesterday during a recovery session about the need to improve a fallow spell of 11 goals in the last 15 games.
“I’m always talking with the attacking players,” said Sanchez Flores. “We spoke with the attacking players in the second line [Capoue, Amrabat, Jurado, Abdi]. It’s not just about the strikers. I try to suggest to the second line we need more in the box and we need to be better in the third line. We’re always close to the goal. Leicester and Tottenham were the two teams who reduced our attack but in the other matches, we have the same opportunities as the opponent but we are not scoring.”
Capoue, with all his abundant ability, should really have opened his Watford account by now. What a time it would be on Sunday to break his duck, at the home of the team who were his former club’s arch rivals.
“Capoue is getting close, to be fair,” said Deeney. “He scored against Leeds and then I pushed the guy over so he’s not thanked me for that. We need to be a bit more ruthless but the way it’s going, we’ll score three and lose 4-3.”
And although no Watford fan wants to see their team lose on Sunday, if they were, you’d rather go out in a blaze of glory than go down with a whimper, like they did on their last visit to north London to play Spurs.