Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes insists the side are ready for next week’s season opener at Southampton, despite surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 against Lorient.
The Hornets concluded their pre-season campaign against the Ligue 1 side at Vicarage Road this afternoon but would have been disappointed to have conceded twice having got themselves into a winning position. Troy Deeney’s first-half penalty gave Watford the lead which was soon doubled by Odion Ighalo early in the second half. But Lorient fought back, thanks to a superb Zargo Toure free-kick and one from Romain Philippoteaux.
“We know the Premier League will be even harder this season and for our final preparation it was good,” said Gomes after Watford conceded twice for the second successive week. “We need to start good but if we don’t it is not the end of the world. We are focused to go and get a result like we did at Everton last season.”
Watford are clearly still adjusting to Walter Mazzarri’s preferred 3-4-1-2 / 3-5-2 system. The Italian even switched to a 4-3-3 after Craig Cathcart went off in the first half and was replaced by Isaac Success.
“We tried to do our best, always,” said Gomes. “The manager has new ideas and we need to follow them the best we can. We had 3-5-2 and we changed to 4-3-3 so we need to improve so this is what pre-season is about, to improve each idea and each system.”
The club have been heavily linked with Lille’s Sofiane Boufal and Juventus’ Roberto Pereyra who are on a three-man shortlist for the attacking midfield spot. Negotiations appear to have stalled with Pereyra in recent days. He is in London, along with teammate Mario Lemina, for Juventus’ game with West Ham tomorrow. Gomes would welcome further recruits – a defender and a box to box midfielder are being sought – but only if they buy in to the ethos of the club and have the right mentality.
“We need maximum quality that we can bring in,” he said. “It’s good for us and good for the club. We know every team is improving and of course it will be a very strong league this season. We need to show that on the pitch and we have a very talented squad but the players that come need to have the mentality, like Isaac Success, to come on the pitch, even in a preparation game and do his best. That’s the type of player we need.”
Watford carried a greater threat after the introduction of Success. He only had 50 minutes of pre-season action prior to today but more than doubled that this afternoon.
“Anytime you change players, players come in and go out, we try to welcome them to make them feel at home from the first game of the season,” said Gomes. “Isaac Success came on looking like he’s been here a very long time, the players are supporting him.”
Success was involved in Watford’s best moves of the second half and his willingness to get on the ball and run at the Lorient defence is a welcome sign. Watford lacked that directness and ability to trouble teams in behind last season.
Gomes was a close ally of Quique Sanchez Flores and was sad to see him go. Mazzarri is the sixth coach he has worked under at Vicarage Road.
“To be honest, every time we change system it is not easy but we need to work on it,” he said. “From the first day of the season, even when we didn’t kick the ball we tried to work on the system. The players understand this and of course if the manager knows we’re not doing the work he will say so. We train with all the systems as well, 3-4-3, 4-4-2 and that is not a problem. Communication on the pitch is important. We know that he tries to do his best to pass on his information to the players, the players are catching up quickly.”