Troy Deeney said he would have bitten your hand off had you offered him four points after as many games, and that his task as captain is to transmit his own unwavering self-belief throughout the rest of the squad.
The unforgiving nature of the fixture list meant Watford were, realistically, looking at Burnley away into the sixth round of matches as the best chance to register their first three points of the season. But, unexpectedly and thrillingly, Watford picked up their first win of the season at West Ham United yesterday, the manner of which will do wonders for belief in what the latest head coach is trying to implement.
“It’s massive,” the captain told talkSPORT. “I’m not going to lie. We’ve got the hardest start of the season. No-one else has a start like us, but four points from four games, we’ll take that.”
Deeney will also take his goal, which was quite brilliantly composed in its execution. It says a lot for the confidence of the captain that despite a laboured start to the season and with Valon Behrami and Roberto Pereyra well placed, he had no hesitation in swivelling and instinctively curling a right-footed shot over the head of three back-pedalling West Ham players. He got off the mark in similarly emphatic fashion at Stoke last season. He knows he belongs at this level. Those goals prove it.
“The challenge we have is not to be fazed or in awe of these people,” said Deeney. “They’ve had great careers but we are Watford and we are in the Premier League for a reason. I go into every game thinking, ‘I’m Troy Deeney, I’m the man and I’m going to show you what’s what’. I just want everyone else to do that.”
Behrami is on the captain’s wavelength and just days after inspiring Switzerland to a momentous win over Euro 2016 champions Portugal in midweek, he was at his indefatigable and harrying best at the London Stadium. Against his former club, he and Deeney were not going to let Dimitri Payet turn the last hour into an exhibition of showboating.
“They started doing the flicks and the tricks after 30 mins,” said Deeney. “That was a bit lively. We need to thank them as that stoked the fire and everyone started laying a glove on people after that. I can appreciate them [the tricks like the rabona] but at 5-0 up and when there is ten to go – not when it’s 2-0 and there is five to go in the first half.
“I need to thank them as that got the boys up, and Valon got into a few, I got into a few and, before you know it, they started backing off. The two goals [before half-time] got us going and only one team was going to win in the second half. In the second half we were more dominant, we bullied them. We were winning a lot more 50-50 tackles and we got two good goals.”