It’s sad that Watford’s Premier League campaign, a largely rousing battle against relegation, is ending like this. The Hornets are finishing the season in utter disarray.
Quique Sanchez Flores is on his way in the summer. He knows it, we know it and the players know it. A Watford statement, issued half an hour before the kickoff, just added to the messiness of the whole thing. But there can be no excuse for the lacklustre display they produced this evening. The wheels came off spectacularly.
The focus, desire and relentless energy which made Watford’s first half of the season such a joy has vanished. This lot are a shadow of side that gloriously dismantled Liverpool at Vicarage Road five days before Christmas. The season can’t end soon enough.
It had all started so well for the Hornets. They settled quickly inside a nervy Carrow Road and deservedly went in front in the 10th minute.
Miguel Britos lofted a pass forward that Deeney flicked on towards Odion Ighalo. Canaries’ goalkeeper John Ruddy came out to collect but, under pressure from Watford’s top scorer, spilt the ball. It fell to Deeney who had the easy task of guiding his shot into an empty net for his 14th of the season.
That was as good as it got for the Hornets. The collapse that followed their opener was inexcusable.
Norwich drew level five minutes after falling behind. Heurelho Gomes did not cover himself in glory. Nathan Redmond exchanged passes with Steven Naismith on the edge of the Watford penalty area and fired low towards the near post. Gomes was caught out and the ball went through his legs and into the net.
The hosts needed to win to have any chance of survival. The noise inside Carrow Road ramped up. It became deafening when the hosts added a second.
Again, Watford’s defending was dreadful. Redmond was able to cut inside from the right and fire towards goal. The ball struck the post and rebounded to Dieumerci Mbokani who tapped home.
The Hornets players looked around in hope of an offside flag which, rightly, didn’t come. They then blamed each other. Nobody took responsibility in defence.
Redmond flashed a shot just wide from distance before he hit the post after evading a challenge in the area by Mario Suarez. Gomes then had to push wide a powerful drive from Martin Olsson.
But, eight minutes before the break, Norwich grabbed a third. Allan Nyom slipped as he attempted to intercept a pass. Wes Hoolahan had time to deliver a low cross which, in his attempt to clear, Craig Cathcart turned into his own net.
Watford’s players were booed off at half time by the travelling supporters. Rightly so. The 757 who’d travelled to Norfolk hadn’t left work early for this.
The minimum the Hornets needed to be in the second half was competitive. Deeney led the fight – he usually does – and did brilliantly to tee up a goal for Ighalo. Watford’s skipper muscled past Russell Martin and delivered the perfect low cross for Ighalo, who was left with a tap in.
Was the comeback on? The answer came six minutes later than Norwich grabbed a fourth. It was, again, a simple goal to concede. Redmond and Mbokani exchanged passes. The latter ran off Miguel Britos and dinked his shot over Gomes. All too easy.
Watford intermittently flickered into life during the remainder of the game. Abdi had a couple of shots which threatened while Deeney continued to battle but the Hornets were well beaten. A free-kick that sailed over the bar from Adlene Guedioura summed it up.
There is one more game to come, Sunderland at Vicarage Road on Sunday. Hopefully Watford can give this season the send-off it deserves.
Norwich City: Ruddy; Pinto, Martin, Bennett, Olsson, Redmond (Jarvis 79), Dorrans, O’Neil, Hoolahan (Brady 71), Naismith (Odjidja 80), Mbokani. Not used: Rudd, Bassong, Jerome, Mulumbu.
Watford: Gomes, Nyom (Ake h-t), Cathcart, Britos, Anya, Abdi, Watson (Guedioura 71), Suarez, Jurado (Berghuis 53), Deeney, Ighalo. Not used: Pantilimon, Prodl, Amrabat, Paredes.
Referee: Roger East.
Bookings: Abdi, Watson, Ake.