Before a ball was kicked not many outside of Watford Football Club anticipated the Hertfordshire outfit to impress quite like they have done this season. A 17th place finish last campaign blurred the fact the Hornets were never threatened by relegation all season despite being managed by the clueless Walter Mazzarri. This would point to the fact that Vicarage Road is blessed with a talented playing squad, even more so when you consider the long term absences of then record signing Roberto Pereyra. Now under a new head coach, many point to the qualities of Marco Silva purely for the bright start the team have made and while it is undoubtedly true to a degree, I want to look at what extent the influence the Portuguese boss is having.
It would be fair to say that there isn’t a large difference in quality between the squads outside of the top six. The table with Burnley comfortably in 7th alone indicates that quality is far from everything and having a prolific manager is usually the difference between survival and relegation. Now back with a head coach that isn’t completely useless we’ve seen for virtually the whole part of the season what this side is capable of. That to me does tell you that this Watford side possesses a squad too strong to go down, as demonstrated last season, which I believe is not the case elsewhere in the division.
On the flip side we are seeing Marco Silva get the best out of certain individuals. Tom Cleverley is the prime example. I don’t think Cleverley is by any means a superb footballer, you will find plenty of Cleverley’s in other sides but he has excelled this season as he’s played in a suitable system, with backing from the head coach and is clearly in the right environment. With this pretty much applying to the whole Burnley squad for example I think it’s about interpreting where the quality does lie no matter which manager is in charge.
Looking briefly into the Watford squad, we don’t possess a top striker, which in fairness applies to most clubs outside of the top 6. The midfield is where I believe the club do stand out compared to other clubs around them and that has been proven more often that not in midfield battles this season, largely without the highly rated Nathaniel Chalobah. Defensively the club are probably average, the fact Mariappa has featured heavily and done well would once again indicate towards good management and credit to the individual. With Gomes in goal the club are no worse nor better off that the rest of the pack. I think a good way of looking at things is to compare the squads and to which players would find themselves in Silva’s team. I also give a verdict as to whether Watford have a better squad which includes depth.
Bournemouth – (Begovic, Ake, Defoe – Equal) , Brighton – (Dunk, Knockaert – Better), Burnley – (None – Better), Crystal Palace – (Sakho, Zaha, Benteke – Slightly Better), Everton – (Pickford, Sigurdsson, Bolasie – Equal) Huddersfield – (Mooy, Mounie – Better), Leicester – (Maguire, Mahrez, Vardy – Equal), Newcastle – (Ritchie – Better), Southampton – (Bertrand, Van Dijk, Redmond/Tadic, Austin – Equal), Stoke – (Butland, Zouma – Slightly Better), Swansea – (None – Better), West Brom – (Evans, Gibbs, Phillips – Better), West Ham – (Cresswell, Antonio, Hernandez – Equal).
Without reading too much into my assessment Silva is blessed with depth to his squad. With Pereyra continuously out injured the club have deployed Cleverley and Will Hughes in the number 10 role. He has Gray, Deeney and Okaka has his 3 forwards, none standout but 3 capable players nonetheless. These examples show that Silva is blessed with more than enough ability to take this club forwards. Like usual it is not a standout set of players but I’m in the belief that is greater than a few squads as indicated above. So while Marco Silva continuously continues to take the plaudits and rightly so, my argument is that this should not be as heroic as many might believe. A top half finish should be a justified expectation and we can only wait and find out whether that will be met this season.
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