Watford captain Troy Deeney will not rest on his laurels this summer and believes “things are going to get better”.
Deeney was still in the gym at London Colney when others had already departed for their summer holidays and he will perform his own mini preseason with his personal fitness trainer when he gets back from trips to Miami and Orlando.
“I can’t get comfortable,” he said in an interview with Hornets Player. “Yes, I’m a Premier League footballer but I want more.”
Deeney will have to go some to replicate the stellar season he’s just had. He scored 15 goals and laid on seven for Odion Ighalo. No player in the league, even the assist king Mesut Ozil, laid on more for another player last season. It was, however, the three goals he scored against Aston Villa – two of which were winners – that will live long in his memory.
“I thought the first game [at Villa Park] we did really well,” he said. “They felt if they could beat us that they would go on a run. We didn’t want to be the team that lost to them. [In the second game] we were under pressure as the fans were a bit disgruntled at how the season was going and if we had lost to already relegated Villa, it would have looked shambolic, so to score two goals was obvious pleasing.”
Deeney didn’t score in the memorable 3-0 win over Liverpool but he was a menace, forcing Martin Skrtel to limp off before half-time. “I thought we were fantastic, we battered them and did everything well.”
There is a theory, with plenty of foundation, that Watford’s players and coaching staff spent too long admiring the view after climbing up to seventh and moving to within one point of fourth-place Tottenham with that win before Christmas.
“A lot of it [our poor form in 2016] was down to us,” Deeney said. “As a team, we got a bit comfortable and started to play in areas we weren’t in the first half [of the season]. We have some real talented players in this team and when we started to get close [to achieving safety] they started expressing themselves a bit more. We went away from the framework and, in the Premier League, you can’t do that.”
Yet despite the form falling off a cliff – just four league wins from their last 21 games – they succeeded where Graham Taylor’s team of 1999-00 and Aidy Boothroyd’s group in 2006-07 failed.
“It’s massive,” said Deeney. “It’s the first time it’s ever been done. Everyone has heroes from that generation, like Ashley Young or Marlon King but they never managed to keep Watford up. This bunch of players has. When you look at the teams that went down [this season], look at their budgets and the players in that team it shows what this group is all about. I think things are going to be get better.”
There is more from Deeney in this week’s issue of WD Sport which is out in the shops now.