Watford release their inner Fury: Hornets take leaf out of the boxer Tyson’s book by going on the attack to leave Liverpool punch drunk
- Troy Deeney appeared mystified by the attention after Watford beat Liverpool
- The striker described their unlikely triumph against the leaders as ‘just a win’
- Nigel Pearson was the coolest man in the venue during the tactical masterclass
- Deeney also stressed the importance of Watford using the win for momentum
Troy Deeney bustled his way through the waiting throng and initially looked as if he could erupt at any given moment.
Watford had just registered the standout result of the Premier League campaign, a 3-0 skewering of Liverpool that obliterated the champions-elect’s attempt to make history, but Deeney’s demeanour — and subsequent words — suggested he was mystified by all the attention.
‘It’s three points,’ said Deeney, who had inflicted the final blow of a remarkable 18-minute spell in the second half. ‘I don’t want to sound blasé, but everyone would have written us off. We don’t get an extra point for beating Liverpool. There’s no point being overly flamboyant. It’s just a win.’
Troy Deeney appeared mystified by the attention after Watford beat leaders Liverpool
Not in this case. To adapt a line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some wins are more equal than others. There is no way Vicarage Road, such an atmospheric venue, would have shaken with enthusiasm and delight had this been a run-of-the-mill contest.
During a riotous second half, the energy of those in yellow left you in no doubt this was the kind of occasion to change the course of a season. It would be risible if Watford wasted such impetus.
Of course, the ending of Liverpool’s 44-unbeaten sequence attracted much of the focus. It had been 404 days since Jurgen Klopp had tasted domestic defeat but, really, it had been 860 days, stretching back to a 4-1 ransacking by Tottenham in October 2017, since he had been left so hollow by a result.
The consequence of this setback will not be disastrous and there is no need for an inquest. All this has done is delay when Liverpool can become champions and the prospect of winning the title at Goodison Park has been removed.
Liverpool will not require an inquest despite the ending of their 44-unbeaten sequence
The night belonged to Watford and, eventually, Deeney began to warm up, sensing just what his team had achieved.
‘We took heed from Tyson Fury,’ said Deeney, who kept jabbing away at Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren. ‘We thought we’re going to go on the front foot and have it out with them. We were good and they were a little bit off. Let’s not act like they were at their best.
‘I don’t want to be disrespectful to them because I’m trying to be a good boy this year so I’m keeping my mouth very quiet. Sorry! We put a good performance in against a very good side — no, a great side. Very good is disrespectful. They had some monstrous players. But we put on a monstrous performance.
‘So it’s massive from us. Three goals, I think they had one shot on target, so it’s a perfect weekend at home. We were good. It’s probably the best team performance we’ve had, not only this season, but in seasons gone by.’
The architect of it all was Nigel Pearson — or ‘Super Nigel Pearson’, as the home fans bellowed. He was the coolest man in the venue and the most excited he got when his team scored was to raise an eyebrow in apparent disbelief.
Nigel Pearson was the architect of the shock but also appeared the calmest man in the venue
But don’t think this was a fluke. Pearson, with his trusted assistant Craig Shakespeare, had hatched a plan that saw the outstanding Ismaila Sarr — scorer of two fine goals — and Gerard Deulofeu play like full backs to squeeze the space open to Liverpool. Deulofeu went off before half-time and is set to miss the rest of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Tactically, Watford were perfect but the seeds for the carefree way they played had been planted last Thursday when Pearson cancelled a training session and sent his squad to a local health club for an afternoon of swimming and yoga.
‘The gaffer wanted to clear our minds,’ said Deeney. ‘Everyone was putting too much pressure on this. That is testament to the manager, his man-management and not getting caught up in the hype. So we had our least demanding week in months.
‘I don’t think it’s going to be something the gaffer does going forward. There are 10 games and we’ve got to graft. I won’t look at this game in two months, if we are relegated, and go, “Oh, remember that game against Liverpool?” I’ll be p***** off. So we go again.’
Looking at his demeanour, you know Watford will go again. There is still much to be done if they are going to fend off relegation but what a platform they have given themselves. Yes, it was only three points. You sense, however, it could lead to so much more.
Deeney also stressed the importance of Watford using the result as positive momentum
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