You won’t get anyone deep inside Vicarage Road to admit it publicly but Watford’s executives can already start planning for life as a year three Premier League club. That’s how significant this result was.
The three points against Hull pushes the Hornets up to seventh but, more significantly in a world where TV cash is king, Watford are 11 places and eight points above the third bottom team. You just can’t see Hull picking up three more wins than Watford in the next 28 games. Sunderland look dead and buried so that’s one relegation place taken care of. Hull City look in a world of trouble yet they still have two more points than Swansea.
Watford simply have too much quality in their ranks to drop like a stone and go on the type of run they did in the second half of last season. They didn’t then have a player of a the calibre of Daryl Janmaat who can come off the bench to set up the winner. They didn’t have striking resources like Isaac Success, Stefano Okaka and Kenedy itching to get off the treatment table and onto the pitch. You don’t come from two goals down to beat West Ham United, wipe the floor with Manchester United at home and keep three clean sheets on the bounce and then find yourselves in a relegation scrap. Watford, who are starting to look more like an established top-flight team by the week, will be a Premier League team next season. It’s now a question of how high they want to finish.
“At the moment we don’t have to think about the table or look at the table,” said Walter Mazzarri. “I have no problem with where we can get or achieve this year. The plan with the club is to grow a lot in the next 1 or 2 years. We are one as a club, and we have to look at the end of the season where we are.”
Right now they are in a good place and have picked up the habit of accumulating points without playing particularly well. The first half an hour, though, was up there with anything they have produced this season. The last hour was bang average.
“At the beginning we played a great 30 minutes, we played beautiful the way I want,” said Mazzarri. “We were very unlucky not to score one or two goals at the beginning. We worked very hard in the first 30 minutes but unfortunately the team can’t maintain that for 90. At the end of the day I think there is no doubt on who deserved the win. Of course I always believed even in the second half even though they had a couple of counterattacks they couldn’t score. But for all the second half we controlled and created many chances. We have to be more precise on the final pass.”
Janmaat comes across like someone who doesn’t lack confidence, someone who calls a spade a spade. “We were much better than them, especially at the beginning when we created a lot of chances,” said the returning Dutchman. “We had more chances than them and deserved the win.”
Janmaat declared it “good to be back after injury” and reported that “the atmosphere is good around the club”. It was just good to get back to talking about football after a week spent discussing matters off the field.
“We played really good,” said the excellent Nordin Amrabat. “We created a lot of chances and we deserved to win. We kept going and the coach prepared us really good. We did what we said. The fans deserved more goals.”
If this set of fans don’t get goals, they love nothing more than a player who puts a shift in. That’s why Amrabat got a standing ovation at full-time and another one on the celebratory lap of honour at full-time.
“I enjoyed it but it was really heavy [on my legs] as in this position I need to run all the time, up back, up back,” he said. “It was hard and it’s a tough position but when you win it’s worth it.”
*Additional reporting by David Norris