Watford FC: the 2010s

Geoff Wicken

The last few years have seen Watford enjoy more success and a higher status than any period in the club’s history aside from the 1980s.

The long-running issues over the club’s ownership were resolved in 2012 when the Pozzo family – owners of the Italian club Udinese – acquired Watford.  They brought stability, football experience, connections and vision.  They appointed Gianfranco Zola as head coach and re-stocked the squad with players from around the world.  Promotion was narrowly missed in 2012-13, but after a disappointing year in 2013-14 it was achieved in 2014-15.  Watford were back in the Premier League.

After 1982, 1999 and 2006 this was the fourth time Watford had achieved promotion to the top tier of English football.  Unlike the previous two one-season-only visits, this time Watford managed to stay.  The squad was upgraded again, and performed well in 2015-16 under new coach Quique Sanchez Flores to finish 13th.  2016-17 followed a similar pattern, this time under Walter Mazzari, as did 2017-18 under first Marco Silva and then Javi Gracia.

It will be hard to match the heights of the 1980s, but Watford’s goal is to punch above their weight and become an established Premier League club.


The Golden Games:

12th May 2013: Football League Championship, play-off semi-final, second leg

Watford 3 Leicester City 1

The game containing the 30 seconds that no-one will ever forget.  Watford had narrowly failed to achieve second place in the Championship, and faced Leicester in the play-off semi-final.  After a 0-1 defeat in the first leg, as the 90-minute mark approached Watford led 2-1 thanks to two goals from Matty Vydra.  Then Leicester’s Knockaert brushed past Cassetti and went down to win the softest of penalties.  He took it himself, only for goalkeeper Almunia to produce a double save.  Cassetti cleared the ball, and a series of perfect touches from Anya, Forestieri and Hogg set up Troy Deeney to score at the other end. Game over.  This was surely the finest single moment in the history of Watford FC.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.


24th January 2015: Football League Championship

Watford 7 Blackpool 2

A day for the record books – the only time Watford have ever scored seven goals in one half of football.  This was a remarkable turnaround win.  An admittedly poor Blackpool side, who were subsequently relegated well adrift of the rest of the division, led by two goals at half-time.  In the second half though Watford came alive and brushed the visitors aside.  Odion Ighalo, starting off on a remarkable scoring spree that lasted for the whole of 2015, scored four goals, with Deeney, Vydra and Angella also on the scoresheet.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.


25th April 2015: Football League Championship

Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Watford 2

This was the day on which Watford won their way back into the Premier League.  The game was chosen by Sky as a lunchtime kick-off, with Watford’s promotion rivals Norwich and Middlesbrough playing at three o’clock.  Watford started tentatively, and manager Slavisa Jokanovic made an early tactical substitution, bringing on Tozser for Anya.  Within minutes Troy Deeney put Watford ahead.  The score remained 1-0 until the final moments when in a breakaway attack Deeney fed Matty Vydra who scored the second.  The other results later went Watford’s way, and promotion had been achieved.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.


20th December 2015: FA Premier League

Watford 3 Liverpool 0

In Watford’s first season back in the Premier League, Quique Sanchez Flores’ side produced a sufficient number of victories for relegation never to be too much of a worry.  This was the pick of them, against a Liverpool side that had just been taken over by Jurgen Klopp.  Watford scored early on when Nathan Ake converted after a corner; then it was over to Odion Ighalo.  First he outpaced the defence to slot home, then he scored again with a powerful header.  It was the kind of victory that made the football world take note.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.


13th March 2016: FA Cup sixth round

Arsenal 1 Watford 2

Many Watford fans would rate this as the finest victory for many seasons.  In a curious echo of 1987, Watford were drawn away to Arsenal in the sixth round of the FA Cup, and the game proved just as memorable.  Watford’s tactics worked perfectly as they held Arsenal to 0-0 at half time.  In he second half, Deeney headed a long throw on to Ighalo, who rolled his man and slotted the ball in.  Then came the second goal.  Deeney’s pass was the perfect set-up for Adlene Guedioura, who thundered the ball into the top corner of the goal.  It was backs to the wall after that but although Wellbeck reduced the lead, Watford somehow held out.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.


18th September 2016: FA Premier League

Watford 3 Manchester United 1

This was Watford’s first victory over Manchester United in 30 years.  Etienne Capoue arrived on the edge of the box to fire Watford ahead in the first half, but Rashford levelled for United after an hour.  The man who turned the game decisively Watford’s way was, of all people, Colombian midfielder/defender Juan-Carlos Zuniga.  Within a minute of coming on as a substitute he converted Pereyra’s cut-back.  Soon after, it was Zuniga who was brought down in the box by Fellaini, and Troy Deeney smashed home the penalty.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.


5th February 2018: FA Premier League

Watford 4 Chelsea 1

This was the first home match for which Watford’s new head coach Javi Gracia was in charge – a televised Monday night game against the reigning Premier League champions.  Watford had suffered a poor run of form, but turned things around dramatically.  The hapless Bakayoko was dismissed for two yellow-card offences, then new loan signing Gerard Deulofeu won a penalty which Troy Deeney converted.  Eight minutes from time, Hazard curled in a fine equaliser for Chelsea, and it felt as if the ten men might go on to win.  But Watford refused to fold and kept pressing.  The key moment came when Daryl Janmaat dribbled across the box, played a one-two with Pereyra, and rolled the ball in.  Deulofeu soon ran through for a third, and Pereyra’s clever fourth made for an impressive victory.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

This page was added on 24/05/2018.

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