WD Sport http://www.wdsport.co.uk All the news from Watford Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:31:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/cropped-icon175x175-32x32.jpeg WD Sport http://www.wdsport.co.uk 32 32 ‘We were so hungry we used to steal food from weddings,’ says Isaac Success http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/we-were-so-hungry-we-used-to-steal-food-from-weddings-says-isaac-success/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/we-were-so-hungry-we-used-to-steal-food-from-weddings-says-isaac-success/#respond Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:31:06 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27047 This interview with Isaac Success was originally scheduled to take place over the phone but we politely asked if we could do it face to face so we could help paint a better picture of what this battleship of a Nigerian is like.

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The request was approved and the decision vindicated as, in the unlikely setting of the old groundsman’s house at UCL training ground in London Colney, Success told rich tales of how he and the artist now signed to his music label used to go to weddings to steal food just so they could eat, how he turned up unannounced at the Nigeria youth team trials after an eight-hour round bus trip, how he views Gino Pozzo as a father figure and how he has carried the Real Madrid shirt of a Brazil legend with him wherever he goes. Oh, and he reckons he would have been a dancer had he not made the grade as a footballer. Quite the character, eh. He’s your classic rough diamond.

Picture by Franziska Empl
Picture by Franziska Empl

Talking of diamonds, Success has all the hallmarks of being Premier League footballer – he swaggers into the interview with two diamond encrusted earrings, a gleaming gold watch and a tattoo on the inside of his right forearm – but he retains a lovely degree of humility and does not need reminding of his humble roots.

“In Africa there are a lot of struggles,” he says. “You have to struggle before you get the opportunity to do what you want to do, which for me is football. There are so many players in Africa and you have to to be lucky to be chosen. We used to play in just our pants. We had nothing, not even slippers. Just barefoot. It was really tough.”

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So tough, in fact, that starvation was a very real prospect in Benin, a city in the south east of Nigeria home to more than one million people.

“In Africa, some most families are poor that they do not have food at home,” says Success. “We would go to marriages and ceremonies to steal food. We did struggle all the time to get food. Thankfully there were three boys (Success and his two brothers) so we would just go out to look for something and get food. It was not easy.”

Success’ partner in crime was Trazyx, his childhood friend. He is signed to Success’s record label, I.S Music, and Success features in the video for the label’s debut single, Young Alhaji.

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“I would be a dancer,” says Success when asked what he would be if he wasn’t a footballer. If I get bored in the dressing room or mentally I get down, I listen to music, dance and have fun. It makes me mentally strong.”

Valon Behrami, who is 11 years his senior, is not convinced by the dancing.

“Pfffff,” he said. “It’s very bad. I saw him in one video touching his body and I was like, ‘Whoa’.”

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Success and friends tucking into Sunday lunch

The careers of Behrami and Success have parallels as both left their troubled homeland as teenagers in pursuit of a better life. Behrami’s big break came when his athletics club petitioned Swiss Law to allow him and his family to stay in Switzerland. Success’ came when his club coach paid the bus fare (around £6.20) for a four-hour trip to Lagos to attend the Nigeria Under-17 team trials.

“I just heard there is a trial going on and I was like, ‘I can do that’. I just left the next morning and that was it. It was 2,500 naira. It was too big for me so my coach gave me the money.”

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The under-17 team proved the making of him. “He came in with so much confidence but we just thought ‘this is another one’,” said Nduka Ugbade who was holding the trials. “But the moment he stepped on the pitch, we just knew he was going to help us win the World Cup.”

And he did, scoring in the opening games against Sweden and Mexico before a hamstring injury ruled out him for the rest of the tournament. Kelechi Iheanacho ended up being the star, scoring six times as Nigeria won the tournament in the UAE. Iheanacho alerted the scouts of Manchester City while Success had the eagle-eyed Pozzo network of scouts scrambling to get him into their network.

Picture taken from Success' Instagram account
Picture taken from Success’ Instagram account

“I was supposed to go to Udinese but I couldn’t get a visa so I went straight to Spain,” said Success. “I had a tough time with the language. I was like a deaf and dumb player, I was just sat in the dressing room and couldn’t say anything. I then got better at speaking the language and the football got better.”

You suspect the dream move, like it is for most players, would have been to Barcelona or Real Madrid. Samuel Eto’o is his idol while Success has a shirt once worn by Ronaldo (the Brazilian one). “I have only kept one jersey since I started football seven years ago,” explained Success.. “I wash and wear it everywhere. I take it to the Church, I take it to the market.”

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There was no chance of Success being on the open market this summer. He was always going to end up at Watford, treading the same path from Granada to Vicarage Road as Odion Ighalo, Allan Nyom, Juan Carlos Paredes and Miguel Layin.

“I have been with Pozzo since I started playing in Europe so it was easy for him to get me to play for him [at Watford],” Success said. “Watford was the best option for me and I know Pozzo always wants the best for me. He’s been like a father to me, always advising me outside of football and always trying to make me better. I really appreciate that a lot.”

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With the proceeds of his five-year contract at Vicarage Road, Success, like Odion Ighalo, sends money to his family. “Even if it is my last money, I will send it,” he says.

What about purchasing plane tickets so his parents can watch their son in Premier League action?

“My parents are traditional – they don’t want to leave Africa,” he says. “I always invite them but my mum says, ‘I can’t stop teaching’ or my dad says ‘I can’t stop preaching gospel’. It’s a bit boring living alone but I have to do what I do to take care of them. I talk to my mum before going to the stadium. She gives me courage and made me what I am today.”

They will be proud as punch.

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Watford dealt Stefano Okaka injury blow http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/watford-dealt-stefano-okaka-injury-blow/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/watford-dealt-stefano-okaka-injury-blow/#respond Wed, 14 Sep 2016 19:33:58 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27083 Stefano Okaka is facing up to six weeks out with the hamstring injury he picked up against West Ham on Saturday.

The hulking striker came on for his debut on 78 minutes and crammed plenty into ten minutes of action. He saw a goal chalked off for offside, was booked for dissent then hobbled off with a hamstring injury after over-stretching in a tackle. He has been assessed by the medical team, minus the sacked head of medical Richard Collinge, and been ruled out for four to six weeks.

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He will be sent to Barcelona to see Dr Cugat for specialist treatment and looks set to miss games against Manchester United, Burnley, Middlesborough, Swansea and Hull City, possibly returning in time for the game against Liverpool on Sunday November 6.

His absence represents a blow to Walter Mazzarri who wants Okaka and Isaac Success to push Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo hard for their places.

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“Reinforcements are needed, and the good thing about it is it keeps me and Iggy on our toes,” said Deeney after Saturday’s game. “We were taken off today and none of us were happy with being brought off but we have to respect the manager’s wishes. Success came on, looked lively and nearly got a goal for himself. Unfortunately the big man Okaka got injured and we hope it’s not too serious because he looked a real handful.”

Watford were made aware of Okaka’s availability by Mogi Bayat, the agent who also represents Christian Kabasele and Sven Kums, the midfielder who has ended up at Udinese. However, Mazzarri already knew all about Okaka.

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“I know him since he was very young, when he used to play for Roma,” said the head coach of the strapping 27-year-old striker capped four times by Italy. “His qualities mean he is best as a striker but he can play on the sides as a winger. But he performs better as a striker with players behind him. I am happy Okaka is here.”

Mazzarri did in the fourth game of this season what Quique Sanchez Flores did in the fifth league game of last season for the only time and substitute both Ighalo and Deeney.

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“I did it because Ighalo and Deeney attacked and defended and were tired,” said Mazzarri. “In modern football, you need four strikers of almost the same level. For me it was very important for them to play. Okaka scored a goal but unfortunately it was disallowed.”

Okaka looked a handful in his cameo on Saturday, looking like the ideal brute of a forward to bring off the bench late on when defences are tiring. However, Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur thought the move was a strange one.

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“The English teams splashed a lot of money this summer, a lot more than they should have on a few players,” he said in an article in The Times. “Stefano Okaka from Anderlecht was offered around and nobody wanted him, and then Watford bought him for €8 million (£6.75 million). I thought: “He is not good enough for Watford.

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“He got a call-up for Italy when all the strikers were injured during Antonio Conte’s time in charge. He only scored 15 goals for Anderlecht last season and ended up in the B team because he fell out with the coach [René Weiler]. He is a strong guy, but €8 million for a B-squad striker?! I had to ask myself: “Do you have a vision or do you just buy players from agents?!”

“The money coming into Belgium makes Belgian clubs more unstable too because the league can’t keep its best players. I think just 30 per cent of the players who played last weekend were Belgian.”

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Watford wield the axe in the medical department http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/watford-wield-the-axe-in-the-medical-department/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/watford-wield-the-axe-in-the-medical-department/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 08:24:07 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27268 Watford’s players will return to training today to the shock news that head of medical Richard Collinge has been relieved of his duties.

Collinge was told yesterday by chief executive Scott Duxbury and sporting director Luke Dowling that his services are no longer required. The decision is not only shrouded in mystery but also comes at a strange time. The obvious time to make a change in the medical department was in the summer when Walter Mazzarri was allowed to bring in nine Italian members of staff. Another has joined since, we understand.

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The club had another opportunity to act during the two-week international break but, instead, they pulled the trigger six days before a home game with Manchester United. The timing is also lousy from Collinge’s point of view, leaving him, like Nigel Gibbs under Aidy Boothroyd, with his work cut out to find a new role with positions at most clubs locked down.

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Collinge returned to the club in February last year to replace Marco Cesarini as head of medical. He is a hugely popular and respected figure at the facility at the UCL training ground in London Colney, and oversaw the significant upgrade in the club’s medical facilities, including the installation of an on-site cryotherapy chamber and an anti-gravity treadmill. At one stage last season, Watford had the best bill of health in the Premier League, having the fewest number of training days missed through injury in the top flight. By the end, only Southampton and champions Leicester had fewer players missing through injury for 14 days or more.

Watford have shown they are ruthless when it comes to the position of the head coach but they have tended to opt for continuity when it comes to their backroom staff. But they bucked that trend in the summer when Dean Austin was let go as Mazzarri opted for an exclusively Italian coaching staff.

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Behrami on how he’d have left Watford had Quique stayed http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/behrami-on-how-hed-have-left-watford-had-quique-stayed/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/behrami-on-how-hed-have-left-watford-had-quique-stayed/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 18:00:52 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27261 Valon Behrami says his relationship with Quique Sanchez Flores completely broke down and that he would have pushed for a move away from Watford this summer had Walter Mazzarri not taken over.

The Swiss international, along with Jose Holebas, Obbi Oulare and Steven Berghuis, became completely disenchanted with life under Sanchez Flores and seriously explored alternative options. He fell out of favour once he got sent off against Swansea City and was not on speaking terms with the Spaniard by the time the head coach left.

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“I didn’t have a good season last year; I had some problem with the manager,” Behrami said in an interview with BBC Three Counties’ sports editor Geoff Doyle. “I was thinking and looking at other clubs where the coach would have confidence in me and me confidence in the manager. There was a few options; Italy was one and Switzerland was another. I would like to play in Switzerland as I never played there. I left there at 17 and moved to Italy. But I stayed and I want to do a different season to the last one. I am a proud guy and last year was a difficult situation to accept when I’m not playing. And then when I played, I don’t play in my position. If I do something, I want it do it well and I want to earn my money. I want people to see me and say, ‘He’s trying 100 per cent’. That’s the most important thing for me.”

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Sanchez Flores, we are told, lost patience with Behrami turning up on a Friday saying he couldn’t train because of his troublesome knee, making it difficult for him to prepare the team.

“When we were doing well, it’s ok but the second part of the season, when we didn’t win, it was a bit strange,” said Behrami. “I have my character and he has his own and we didn’t talk for the last two or three months. On one side, I was feeling bad as I want to earn my money and on the other side, I was concentrating on my fitness in training as I wanted to play in the Euros so I kept pushing every day. He make the decision [to play Ben Watson] and I’m fine with that but his [Sanchez Flores’] mentality was different to mine. We didn’t find the way to speak to each other and have a common target. With some injuries I had, the relationship split a little bit but this is part of football. I’m in football long enough to know this kind of situation.”

Behrami was the first Watford player to publicly declare his hand on the appointment of Mazzarri.

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The midfielder was part of the Napoli side who, under the watch of Mazzarri, won their first trophy and achieved their highest league position since the heady days of Diego Maradona.

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“We were together at Napoli and we did an amazing season,” said Behrami. “I know what he wants and he knows my qualities, so it’s good for me. He always wants 100 per cent from you and if you don’t perform well, he’s going to put you on the bench, even if the relationship is good. I know the way he wants to play so it was great for me. Him coming here changed my mind. He is the kind of manager who wants to see a reaction, he loves to see the personality of the player. The other one wanted to keep everyone calm and quiet. And I’m not a very quiet guy.”

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‘Roberto Pereyra is the sort of player you build a team around’ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/roberto-pereyra-is-the-sort-of-player-you-build-a-team-around/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/roberto-pereyra-is-the-sort-of-player-you-build-a-team-around/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 06:17:16 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27234 Walter Mazzarri says he wanted Roberto Pereyra “at all costs” this summer after identifying the Argentine schemer as the man to add the X factor to this Watford team.

Watford doggedly pursued Pereyra all summer before Juventus finally accepted their bid and, more importantly, they persuaded the player to swap Turin for life in south-west Hertfordshire. Indeed it says a lot for the pulling power of the Premier League and plenty about Watford’s rise that the Hornets are prising players of this quality from a club as decorated as Juventus.

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“I am very, very happy with the way he played,” said Walter Mazzarri. “He is a great player but also I am happy with how much he ran from the beginning to the end and how much that meant for the team. Great player, great game. I wanted him at all costs because of the quality of this player. For us he is very, very important.”

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Gino Pozzo knows Pereyra better than anyone, having plucked him from River Plate in 2011 and getting him to sign for Udinese. His arrival at Watford is typical of the rapid upgrading of this squad and a sign of the level this progressive club is operating at when it comes to calibre of signings. The Sunday Times had him down as the man of the match while Pereyra had one former Watford midfielder purring.

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Picture by Franziska Empl

“It’s not just what he does on the ball, it’s the runs he makes,” said Derek Payne on BBC 3 Counties. “He nutmegged Payet, the so-called star of West Ham. He’ll have the ball anywhere and pulls the strings, bringing other players into the game. He’s very intelligent but he worked so hard to get back in and help Behrami. He gave the ball away once, I think. He’s the sort of player you build a side round and I think he’s going to be a big thing.”

Not half.

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Troy Deeney hits back at ‘fickle’ critics http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/troy-deeney-hits-back-at-fickle-critics/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/troy-deeney-hits-back-at-fickle-critics/#respond Sun, 11 Sep 2016 21:30:51 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27245 Troy Deeney launched a robust defence after his form and fitness were questioned in the first four games of the season.

The striker was clearly off the pace in the first three league games and the cup game against Gillingham, the striker getting no change out of Virgil van Dijk at Southampton and, unusually, coming off distinctly second best in nearly every duel with Laurent Koscielny against Arsenal. Even Deeney’s most ardent fan would recognise he wasn’t at his rampaging and direct self but the striker feels he’s had a raw deal.

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“My form has been alright, but when I just play alright for two games it’s deemed that I’m not fit, I’m not good enough and all the other b******* that they all say,” he said. “Football and media are fickle because if I don’t score today I’m having a goal drought and I’m not good enough. If I do score today you lot say it’s a good goal and everyone says what a great performance, Troy is back. I can’t really think like that. I’ve just got to do my work keep my head down and make sure my kids are happy.”

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It was appropriate and significant that the equaliser on Saturday, coming as it did so crucially on the stroke of half-time, was scored by Deeney. The players rushed to congratulate their totemic captain knowing a foothold in the game had been turned into a platform for victory. He has scored more significant goals but not too many better than the one on Saturday.

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“I’m too modest to say it was a good goal but it was nice,” said. “I’ve been getting a bit of stick recently because I haven’t been shooting but that’s because I haven’t had any chances. The ball fell to me and I thought no matter what, I’m shooting. There were two running back towards the goal-line and, if I remember correctly, it looked like there was a little space to hit the ball towards. So I thought I’m going to try and clip it. I didn’t try and take the leather off the ball – I just clipped it towards the back post and I knew it was in.”

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Player ratings: How the Watford players fared against West Ham http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/player-ratings-how-the-watford-players-fared-against-west-ham/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/player-ratings-how-the-watford-players-fared-against-west-ham/#respond Sun, 11 Sep 2016 19:57:46 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27206 Heurelho Gomes 7

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Was called into action within minutes of kick-off, in a game which didn’t get any less enthralling thereafter, making two vital, if not assured, saves to keep out Michail Antonio and Dimitri Payet’s efforts. Opted to punch away a couple of balls into the box, which will have rattled some nerves, but always did enough to prevent any danger. Could do nothing to prevent either goal.

Craig Cathcart 5.5

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A disappointing performance from the returning defender. Perhaps he was still feeling the groin strain that kept him out of the the Arsenal game and international duty. West Ham’s second goal was impressive, due to Payet’s improvised cross, but could have been prevented had Cathcart not been caught ball-watching as Antonio drifted in behind him to head into what was essentially an open goal. Had to cover at right-back for a long period after Mazzarri switched to a system with four at the back. Was booked for a foul on Simone Zaza just before half-time, but did improve in the second period when Watford dropped deeper.

Younes Kaboul 6.5

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An assured performance from a defender who knows this league inside out. While his fellow defenders were diving in and scrambling left and right to keep up with Payet and Antonio, Kaboul knew when to stand off and when to make his move. One particularly impressive moment saw him stand up to the latter before darting in between the ball and the man and clearing out of play so the Hornets could reset. He knew when to play the ball out of defence and when to simply hoof it forward, preventing any potential mix ups, such as the ones we saw in the home team’s defence. Could have earned an assist with his knock down, had Stefano Okaka not been ruled marginally offside. Carried the ball well out of defence in the second half.

Miguel Britos 5.5

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Struggled against the returning Payet for much of the first half but, in fairness, who wouldn’t? Thought he had forced the forward onto his left foot at one point, only for Payet to skilfully pull off a rabona cross to the far post. As if that wasn’t enough, the Uruguayan also had to deal with Antonio’s pace. Within minutes he was busting a gut to unsuccessfully attempt to keep up with the winger, before being turned inside and out and failing to block a shot at goal. Was made a fool of when the winger flicked the ball over his head and then added to his blushes moments later, taking too long to pick up the ball and being dispossessed on the edge of his own area. Like Cathcart, Britos improved when the Hornets dropped deep in the second half to reduce the threat of West Ham’s pace.

Daryl Janmaat 5.5

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If his performance could be summed up by one moment, it would be the one in which he hit the post – but it was his own post. Ok, perhaps that’s harsh but it demonstrated how Janmaat is lively going forward but a liability in defence. Much has been made of his unrivalled eight tackles at the Olympic Stadium, but they don’t completely excuse him for failing to be in the correct position when another eight or so were needed. He would often run forward into the box after making a pass, rather than letting the attackers do their jobs and considering his own defensive responsibilities. He did well to get in behind Arthur Masuaku on more than one occasion and set up some good chances for the Hornets, even coming close himself once before an impressive block prevented him from finding the back of the net. But he looked more at home when moved into a right midfield role than he did at wing-back or full-back.

Jose Holebas 7

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Scored his first goal since December 2014, which was incidentally in another 4-2 win, for Roma against an Inter Milan side who had recently parted ways with Walter Mazzarri. It’s a small world. Holebas was guilty of diving in too much early on but soon learned from his mistakes and was impressive both going forward and in defence. Unlike Janmaat, Holebas knew when to get back, showing incredible pace in one instance to catch up with the rapid Antonio then win possession with a perfect lunging tackle. Executed a perfect tackle on Payet and then got back to his feet to drill in a pass from Odion Ighalo. The fact he was that high up the pitch typified the ambition Watford played with.

Valon Behrami 7.5

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Followed up his man-of-the-match performance for Switzerland with an equally determined display against his former club. Perhaps Behrami wanted to prove a point to his former employers, or maybe he has simply been rejuvenated by his reunion with former boss Mazzarri. After a bright but perhaps reckless start, the midfielder was spoken to by Mazzarri during an early break in play. Thereafter, Behrami sat deeper but got about the pitch just as much. Made countless interceptions and put out several fires with perceptive play. Was not afraid to get stuck in, and it was his combativeness that helped the captain get Watford back into the match as much as the goals.

Etienne Capoue 6.5

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Was tasked with marking Antonio from the early corner but lost his man as soon as he made a darting run forward, meaning Deeney had to move from his position in an unsuccessful attempt to recover and challenge for the ball. Deeney was not happy. It was a poor start but Capoue recovered and showed more guts to put himself in the way of a Payet free kick. Going forward, Capoue keeps getting better. It was a joy to watch the midfielder pick out forward players with intuitive passes, including a very good first time ball which led to Ighalo’s goal. His goal was a replica of the one against Chelsea. Each time he finds the net it looks like he’s sliced it, but the more he does it, the less it seems like luck. If he keeps this form up, his £6.3m price tag looks like even more of a bargain. Let’s just hope he doesn’t vanish when the weather gets cold and wet, as he did last season.

Roberto Pereyra 7

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Derek Payne described him as being “at the heart of everything” and “the sort of player you build a team around”. Watford’s answer to Payet struggled for 20 minutes in the first half but always looked threatening when he got on the ball. Pereyra was played through by Deeney in the first half for a chance to shoot but unselfishly squared to Ighalo. It was a perfectly-weighted pass and would have been his first assist, had the striker not opted to take a touch instead of shooting first time. Did earn his first assist later on in the match, with a beautiful cross to Capoue. Highlight of the Argentine’s match was a burst of pace which took him straight through the heart of West Ham’s defence, before he opened up an angle and shot at Adrian, who did well to save and prevent a fifth Watford goal. Payet’s ego would have been dented when Pereyra pushed the ball through his legs.

Odion Ighalo 7.5

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He could have had a hat-trick inside 30 minutes. Shifted between a striker and left-wing role, which suited him well as he was able to run at Sam Byram and James Collins all game, using his quick feet and infamous scoop turn to have them falling over themselves. So much so that after 30 minutes, Byram was afraid to tackle the forward and simply kept backing off until Ighalo shifted the ball onto his right foot and found the back of the net – via a deflection off Collins. Unselfishly picked out Holebas for the fourth when another scoop seemed on the cards. Replaced by countryman Isaac Success with 20 minutes to go due to fatigue.

Troy Deeney 7

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Started the season less energetic than we are used to, and he was a slow burner here. But led from the front once he curled in a quite brilliant second, hassling and hurrying the Hammers’ defence. The finish was similar to his against Ipswich Town in 2012, just better. You feel that it would have been talked about even more had, say, Payet pulled it off. You could notice Deeney tiring as the game wore on, and he was replaced by Stefano Okaka with 12 minutes to play.

Substitutes

Isaac Success

Replaced Ighalo and offered a direct threat, running at the high-pressing and tiring Hammers defence. When teams are pushing forward, Success is the perfect option off the bench. He’s the sort of player who has you on the edge of the seat whenever he picks up the ball. Had one good effort deflected wide and set up another for Okaka. Was not afraid to defend, either, dropping to left-back at one point before darting up field to support Okaka when Watford pushed forward.

Stefano Okaka

Looks like a unit and the ideal replacement when Deeney needs a rest. Tested Adrian with a surprisingly fierce shot from a tight angle and was alert to stab Kaboul’s knock down into the roof of the net, only to be denied a goal by the assistant referee’s flag. Hopefully the injury that caused him to hobble off before the final whistle is nothing serious.

Sebastien Prodl

Replaced Kaboul in the dying minutes and had little to worry about defensively. Made one good clearance and a few tidy passes.

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‘Win over West Ham is massive,’ says Deeney http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/win-over-west-ham-is-massive-says-deeney/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/win-over-west-ham-is-massive-says-deeney/#respond Sun, 11 Sep 2016 07:15:06 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27184 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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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Watford fans come under attack at West Ham http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/watford-fans-come-under-attack-at-west-ham/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/watford-fans-come-under-attack-at-west-ham/#respond Sat, 10 Sep 2016 18:58:03 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27172 Serious crowd problems marred Watford’s stunning comeback win at London Stadium this afternoon.

Eye-witnesses spoke of an absence of policing, inadequate stewarding, poor segregation and the sight of children leaving the stadium in tears in incidents described as “disgusting”, “embarrassing” and “a return to the dark ages”.

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A number of home fans were ejected by stewards for persistent standing and there were also alarming scenes in the away end as West Ham and Watford fans clashed amid flimsy segregation. The featured image is of stewards attempting to control West Ham fans in the home end of the stadium.

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“West Ham fans storming the Watford FC section,” wrote Simon Turner on Twitter. “Took far too long for stewards and security to react. Disgusting.”

West Ham have condemned the violence and will launch an investigation into the trouble which got progressively worse as Watford staged a comeback.

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“I hope something will be done,” wrote @RichardSh16 on Twitter. “Police non existent and these fans should never be allowed inside a stadium again.”

We had been told pre-match, by a West Ham fan, about the lack of clear segregation in their previous home match with Bournemouth.

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 West Ham issued the following statement:”West Ham United unreservedly condemn the behaviour of the individuals involved in incidents during today’s fixture against Watford

“While these isolated incidents were quickly brought under control, this behaviour has no place in football and West Ham United will work tirelessly to eradicate such incidents.

“We are currently undertaking an immediate full review with all stakeholders. This includes police, stadium landlord and operator LS185, who are responsible for appointing and managing stewards and security, to ensure we eradicate such incidents moving forward.

“Our policy on this behaviour remains one of zero tolerance and we will work with the police and other stakeholders to identify the individuals involved. Once identified, they will be banned from attending any West Ham United fixture for life and we will request the courts serve banning orders to prevent these individuals attending any football.”

 

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Mazzarri: ‘We woke up after the second goal’ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/mazzarri-we-woke-up-after-the-second-goal/ http://www.wdsport.co.uk/2016/09/mazzarri-we-woke-up-after-the-second-goal/#respond Sat, 10 Sep 2016 18:02:21 +0000 http://www.wdsport.co.uk/?p=27145 A Premier League game featuring six goals will always spark questions of defensive fragility and this certainly wasn’t one for connoisseurs of the art of defending.

You can imagine Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville having a field day on Monday night football with their fancy illustrative pens. Attack seemed to be the best form of defence.

Troy Deeney lost Michail Antonio for the opener and Craig Cathcart simply watched as the forward ghosted past him to make it 2-0. For the Hammers, Adrian, James Collins and Sam Byram won’t want to watch replays of any of Watford’s four goals – until Slaven Bilic forces them to, that is, as he told us after the game that he would. The two managers has contrasting views on each team’s defensive performance.

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“I’m happy with how we defended after a certain time of the game,” said Walter Mazzarri. “On the first and the second goal we did some mistakes and they don’t have to happen and it’s not our way of playing football. Of course, after the second goal we woke up and in the second half we played a great game.”

Bilic agreed with his counterpart on this point, but felt that Watford’s goals were equally preventable.

“I’m sure that if you talk to Walter Mazzarri about the goals they conceded he will say that they were cheap and too easy, definitely,” said the West Ham boss. “We’ll say that unless there’s some brilliance from, I don’t know, 40 yards or whatever. But this was, from my point of view, way too easy, the first one and the second one.”

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Back to Mazzarri, who feels that his team has been creating opportunities for weeks now and finally reaped their rewards at a packed Olympic Stadium.

“I don’t completely agree [that West Ham defended badly],” insisted the Italian. “Like I said before a couple of times, before against Arsenal and against the previous teams, we had a lot of opportunities, they just didn’t go in. I think we did very well in the second half and it mainly is because of us that we have the win today. Not because of the poor defensive [play] of West Ham.”

The Watford boss explained that he told his players to forget the first half and go into the second with a “completely different mentality”. Bilic agreed, and felt that this mentality was a defensive one.

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“In the second half we didn’t have that much space behind them,” he said. “In the first half we had so much space behind them that we used with the pace of Mikey [Michail Antonio], of other players, we had so many spaces. In second half they dropped a bit and of course when they scored they dropped a bit more. But they continued to be dangerous.”

“It’s true we were especially defensive,” Mazzarri admitted. “We were afraid but this is mainly because West Ham played very well at the beginning. They were pressuring us but we also felt the pressure not only of them but of the public. After that we also had a couple of opportunities where we could have scored, but we didn’t. At half-time we spoke with the players, we adjusted a couple of things and then the result came our way.”

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