Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday September 15 2006
1) Have Watford got the right set up and manager to keep them in the Premiership?
We have not got a lot of financial muscle but we definitely have the right manager to keep us in the Premiership. When Aidy took over the club 18 months ago (his first management job) we were in turmoil and staring down the barrel of a relegation shotgun, he got rid of all the dead wood and dragged the club up by the scruff of the neck. Now we are in the top-flight of English football for only the third time in the club`s history. Aidy is intelligent, forward-thinking, straight talking and has an incredible amount of belief in himself, his players and in his team around him. The 35-year-old says he wants to manage in the Champions League and at international level. It`s only a matter of time.
2) How confident are the fans of staying up?
Just after the play-off final Boothroyd said that we would not get relegated - and that is good enough for us. If we play the rest of the season like we have been - we won`t get relegated. We were very unfortunate at Everton: the referee awarded Everton a penalty when the ball hit Chris Powell in the face, and should have had a penalty at the other end for handball. At home to West Ham we would have won but for a lapse in concentration by our defence straight after we scored. Somehow, we managed to get beat a Bolton despite hitting the woodwork three times. The difference in class from the Second Division to the Premiership is about taking your chances at one end and not making silly mistakes at the other.
3) What do you think of Aston Villa, do you consider them a big club?
Yes I do consider Villa a big club: founder members of the Football League, winners of a double, league championships, FA Cups, and of course a European Cup. It`s a shame that Villa have never really kicked-on since that 1982 success (apart from a second place finish under the guidance of Sir Graham Taylor) and won major silverware, both domestically and in Europe. Martin O`Neill, backed by Randy Lerner, may be the man to emulate Tony Barton, but I think that is a long way off at the moment.
4) Who in our team do you fear on Saturday?
I had doubts that Petrov wasn`t good enough for the Premiership but judged on his performance against West Ham, he may be one of the division`s best players come the end of the season. Martin O`Neill has breathed new life into Aston Villa and it is always difficult playing against a team that have been lifted by a new manager. But in the words of Aidy Boothroyd, 'there is nothing to fear but fear itself.`
5) Who in your team should we fear?
Marlon King has played really well this season and is due some goals. Top scorer in the Championship last year, King has only found the net one this season for Watford - a 25-yard screamer against Wess Stam. The King of Vicarage Road has been given a new lease of life at Watford after he was signed by Aidy for half million, and is now playing the best football of his career. King has pace to burn and will run his heart out for the manager, team and the fans. Marlon is at his most dangerous with his back towards goal.
6) What would you rather as a fan, a winning team and season in the Championship or a relegation struggle in the Premiership entertainment wise?
Well we had a winning team in the second tier last season so it may be our turn to have a relegation battle this year. Most fans want their team to be winning and in the Premiership but its only a select few that can enjoy both. However, the Premiership is not everything is cracked up to be; overpriced tickets, less matches, few 3 o`clock Saturday matches and less victories. But would I swap going to Old Trafford, Anfield and Ashburton Grove for Kenilworth Road, Layer Road and Roots Hall? No chance.
7) Realistically, what do you expect from Watford short and medium term?
Short term I hope we stay in the Premiership this season. Medium term, Aidy has a contract to 2010 and, with him being a man of his word, I expect him to honour it. Boothroyd`s five-year plan (as from 2005) was to get Watford in the Premiership, then into Europe. Europe is going to be very difficult to achieve but I would not bet against Boothroyd. Supporters of other clubs often forget how small a town that Watford actually is - its only home to 80,000 people. In that respect it has been an incredible achievement for Watford to be in the top-flight of English football and attract the support that we do. There are countless clubs from far bigger towns and cities that are not in Watford`s position and haven`t enjoyed the same level of success that we have down the years.
8) So come on then, what will the score be on Saturday?
I`m going to stick my neck on the block and say Watford 3-1. It`s going to be very tough against you lot but I believe that Watford can bring Villa`s unbeaten run to halt as I get the feeling that once we score the dominoes will start falling and we will get another two or three.
Date:Friday September 15 2006
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