Javi Garcia and the resurrection of Watford

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Tottenham Hotspur would have hoped for a nice trip to Watford on a cosy Sunday evening. It was just an hour trip down the train. Some loyal fans made the trip to Vicarage Road. Others sat with their popcorns, glued to their TV screens. This team had a nice trip to Manchester and destroyed the famed Manchester United team. The fans would have hoped for more of the same against a Watford team, who was not as good as them.

What unfolded at Vicarage Road would have been horrific for Tottenham fans. The team which won hands down at Manchester, who finished second last season, is trailing with 10 minutes on the clock. Watford was not the team from last season. And they possibly won’t be losing as much.

Last two seasons were nowhere near satisfactory for the Watford FC. The fans at the Vicarage road hardly had anything to cheer for. The club, in all sorts of crisis, was trying to stay afloat at the top flight. They barely escaped relegation at the end of 2016-17 season. Marco Silva and his tactics didn’t make much of an impact at the club. The management with a last-gasp effort to make amends appointed Javi Garcia as the new manager. Garcia took over from Marco Silva, who completed just a little over six months at Watford.

Coming in during the winter season, Javi Garcia, made some useful signings. Gerard Deulofeu was roped in and Garcia tried to implement things quickly at the club. Javi Garcia couldn’t make much of a difference in his first season. Watford managed to escape from relegation again and finished 14th. He didn’t seem to get the hang of things at England. His performances with Watford were a shadow of what he achieved with Malaga at Spain.

In the summer, however, he understood the English game perfectly. He understood his players well and implemented tactics that suit the play and reap results. So far he has been successful and labelling this as sheer dumb luck is foolish. Javi Garcia had a huge pressure on his shoulders with football pundits lauding him to be the first sacking this season. But his persistence, has been a message to the media.

After his win against Tottenham, no media will call their success, one based on luck or owing to small teams. Each team has an equal shot at the title something that Leicester proved 2 years back, and Watford is proving it now.

Javi Garcia has managed to bring out the potential of his players and has also got a setup for them which they feel comfortable in. The manager is making sure he secures his defences while threatening his opposition lines. He has applied a 4-4-2 in which the full backs advance up front regularly. Both Holebas and Janmaat advance up the flanks, allowing wide midfielders to move centrally and play the creative role.

They haven’t held much possession in any of their games. Garcia has been smart enough to know his weaknesses. He hasn’t tried to turn this team into Manchester City all of a sudden. Pretty football is not required for Watford at this moment as all their fans need is the right results. Fans want Vicarage Road lit up like the good days in 1980s.

Watford presses up, but they don’t bite at the feet of the opposition. They hold their Centre Backs back and their full backs advance forward. The wide midfielders move in and Roberto Pereyra sometimes drops near the two strikers. Pereyra has looked lethal in front of goal, early this season and Garcia is letting him be. His two strikers are playing selflessly with Andy Gray and Troy Deeney are complementing each other. They might not have the quality of Suarez and Salah but they can score. They are playing together and that is the actual beauty of it.

Watford has also not been afraid to play long balls. Whenever they see a chance to open a break, they launch long. They are making efforts to win the game, rather than hold back the line and salvage a draw. Javi Garcia needs to be lauded for the early success of this Watford team.

Watford’s next fixture could be as tough as their previous one. The Red Devils as we know them, might not be in the best form. But Manchester United is still a decorated team. Watford has played well so far, if they go past Manchester United, then people will sense another underdog success in the Premier League. Javi Garcia has previous experience leading underdogs to the upper half of table like Malaga and Rubin Kazan. He can work with Watford for a possible European Competition, who knows?

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Edited by Anirban Banerjee
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