To face Everton, in your first Premier League game since the early 2000s is not exactly what pundits would call a ‘Baptism of Fire’. For Watford, a team coming from the English Championship to play with the ‘senior men’ in the PL, I can say their Everton game was like testing a man’s swimming skills in a 21-feet pool before he goes on to the real deep sea diving. You get the picture?
But they did not drown. Watford just refused to stay down against Everton. They refused to play like the underdogs they were touted to be. Matter-of-factly, they brought the game to their opponents’ door-step and, here’s the ‘hilarious’ part… THEY LEFT IT THERE! They (unexpectedly for me) set the tone of the game and enjoyed themselves while doing that.
Quique Sanchez Flores, the Head-Ni**a-In-Charge, set up his team (half of which were Watford summer buys) in such way that you had a feeling that the team was born ready. This is the part where I ask you to feel free to ask: “How did a Championship side get away with a 2 – 2 draw at Everton with half the team full of new kids?” Obviously, only Quique can answer this better than anyone but let me give it a shot:
– They Played Like A Premier League Team
Watford played like a Premier League side that only just came back from their summer vacation. They functioned like a team that already had PL experience. They did not play like they were overwhelmed by The Experience, they played like the originators of The Experience. This might sound like going over the top for a team that has just been promoted but the truth is, they deserve it. Can I mention that they had a couple of players who already had Premier League experience?
– Quique Sanchez Flores
His team, on the pitch, showed off his tactical ability and management skills. With the way his team was set up, he seemed to have put the right players in the right spots: Nothing got past Nyom, the tall defender; Deeney, the captain, led by example; Capoue and Behrami had the midfield on lock; whoever was tasked with marking Lukaku did a brilliant job! When he needed a goal, he sent in Ighalo and he got his goal. He knew what his team was like and… set them up in a way that they could play against Everton. At a time, his team even parked the bus! That’s how flexible Flores is.
No they didn’t win. But they didn’t lose too! They got a point from the game and a lot of confidence and lessons (if they noticed them) that will help them going ahead into the season. They played like an English Premier League side and not an English Championship side and that’s why they’ve caught my attention.