1. ETIENNE CAPOUE IS CLASS
The Frenchman was the best player on the field by a Hertfordshire country mile, particularly in the second half when Watford’s class and superior fitness began to tell. He dropped deep to pick up the ball off the back four to start attacks and linked the play beautifully at the other end. His goal was out of the very top drawer while the weight and timing of the pass which allowed the overlapping Almen Abdi to fizz over the cross for Jerome Sinclair to thump home was perfect. We all know Capoue can do it on a warm summer’s evening in Stevenage but the challenge for him is to do it on cold ones in Southampton and Swansea.
2. JEROME SINCLAIR DID HIS CASE NO HARM
Sinclair is a dream for those with the difficult task of picking Watford’s Premier League squad. For the next two seasons he counts as an Under-21 player, which means he does not take up a place in the 25 submitted names. Thereafter he will be a home-grown player and we all know how thin on the ground they are at Vicarage Road. But he’s more than a quota filler. For starters, he brings that priceless quality of pace. Quique Sanchez Flores’ team lacked the ability to trouble teams in behind last season and get to the byline, but Sinclair showed he is capable of that last night. Again, you have to bear in mind he was up against Stevenage’s 32-year-old former Luton Town captain Ronnie Henry but you can certainly see Sinclair coming on late in Premier League matches to play on the left or right of a front three. The way he celebrated his goals suggests this is a hungry young man.
3. MAZZARRI’S BACK BENCH
You couldn’t move for Italian coaches and backroom staff in the tunnel area at full-time. In fact, the Hornets are so blessed with backroom staff right now that they had one coach (Gianni Brignardello) to warm the players up without the ball and one (Giuseppe Pondrelli) to warm them up with the ball. There were even two fitness coaches warming up the subs. Early impressions are that it’s a case of too many cooks but Walter Mazzarri has been around the block and clearly knows the support staff he needs to allow him to focus on coaching and tactics.
4. IT’S GOOD TO TALK
You hope the players aren’t shut in rooms at their Hertfordshire retreat during this enforced and extended stay at their preferred hotel. You hope their team bonding is more like Wales’ than England’s. There was certainly some getting to know you on the pitch. Sinclair and Ikechi Anya left a ball for each other that embarrassingly rolled out for a goal kick, the otherwise bright Abdoulaye Doucoure was not on the same wavelength as Sinclair and Anya with two passes down the right, Isaac Success was off radar with a cross-field pass to Capoue, while Adlene Guedioura picked out the advertising hoarding when aiming at Miguel Britos or Anya. Perhaps it was just rustiness issues as Troy Deeney and Anya have played together for four years now and even they were involved in a dose of ‘after you’ on two occasions in the same phase of play.
5. FRIENDLY? WHAT FRIENDLY?
This was a step up in intensity from the testimonial affair at Woking. You knew it was the moment Matt Godden tried to rough up Tommie Hoban and then Rowan Liburd out-muscled Miguel Britos. Referee Darren Deadman didn’t, however, quite expect to be having to separate players following two first-half flashpoints in quick succession. Jose Holebas doesn’t need a second invitation to complain but he had good grounds when Dale Gorman left one on him. Holebas was still remonstrating with his opponent when Steven Berghuis, of all people, sparked a bigger shoving match with a late tackle. Half-time probably came at the right time as things were still simmering when Troy Deeney had a word with Fraser Franks, the Stevenage centre-half who left a bit on Holebas. Holebas had to come off in the second half and limped down the tunnel after indicating to Mazzarri that he had been on the receiving end of another late tackle. Guedioura joined him soon after but his problem looked more muscular.