Deeney to bring old-school values back to Watford
We live in an age of playing out from the back, possession stats and people being described by the number on their shirt, rather than their positions.
Fortunately, there are still some players who fly the flag of a fading era of hard-work, grit and to paraphrase the man we are about to talk about ‘wanting it’.
Troy Deeney is one of these characters and his influence on Watford has been felt during his recent spell on the sidelines.
The Hornets sit bottom of the Premier League table after 13 games, winning only once so far this term. Crucially, Deeney has not featured in 11 of those matches but is closing on full fitness and could start on Saturday away at fellow strugglers Southampton.
A knee problem has plagued the striker’s season, starting the August defeats to Brighton and Everton before being forced to go under the knife after the issue he was carrying became too painful to manage.
His rehabilitation included working on an anti-gravity treadmill, and while some may scoff at the technology, he is back playing, featuring in the final 35 minutes of last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Burnley.
Understandably, the 31-year-old looked a yard or so off the pace but when the ball was at his feet, he held it up and brought others into the game.
In his absence, the Hornets have had to play a possession-based style, with Andre Gray and Gerard Deulofeu running the channels but failing to provide the same menace as a fit and firing Deeney.
While it could take him time to get fully fit, the values the skipper will bring to the side in the meantime can provide another dimension to the team.
“The only thing we can do is fight, and fight a lot.”
🗣️ The boss opens up to the press…
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) November 28, 2019
The Hornets have played some nice football this season but have lacked something in the final third under both Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores. Desire? Confidence? Conviction?
All of the above really but Deeney is a man who has always backed himself. A spell on loan in non-league with Halesowen while at Walsall showed him he wanted to go up the pyramid rather than down and Watford took a chance on him in August 2010.
A few scrapes with the law as a youngster involved in him spending three months in prison in 2012 but since then he seems to have evolved as a man, pushing the idea of footballers as role models.
When fit, Deeney is an inspirational leader, encouraging those around him to get the best out of them and was inspirational as his side reached last season’s FA Cup final. He has also never been shy to criticise opponents who have not matched his determination, accusing Arsenal of lacking ‘cajones’ in 2017.
The Birmingham-born star has even taken to not drinking during weeks when he is playing to ensure he is as sharp as possible.
If he does return to the starting XI against Southampton, it could be the perfect match for him. The Saints have the worst defence in the league, conceding on 31 occasions and to be blunt, have been bullied at times this season.
Deeney will not take a step back if given a chance and if he does start in Hampshire, do not be surprised if Watford pick up a second win of the season.