Troy Deeney is renowned for his honest views and he didn’t pull any punches when he was asked about the Hornets’ end to the 2013/14 season.
“You can take losing three games if you put the right effort in and apply yourselves,” Deeney said before the players left for their summer break.
“We didn’t look like we would win any of those [final three] games from the start to be honest. We’ve taken the lead at Derby with probably our first and last meaningful shot of the first half and then we had a player sent off.
“We’ve had another sending off at Charlton which didn’t help but even in that game we didn’t have many chances.
“There are ways to win and lose games and the minimum requirement that fans ask for is for the players to work hard and look like they give a **** to be honest.”
“You can’t blame the training or the coaches,” Deeney responded when asked for the reasons for the terrible showings against Derby County, Charlton Atheltic and Huddersfield Town. “Each person has got to look at themselves and ask if they did enough. Judging by the results nobody did.
“The manager can speak to you nicely or shout at you depending on your character but if you don’t perform for him then you’ve got to question yourself as a footballer.
“The last game [4-1 defeat at home to Huddersfield] was a joke to be honest. It’s a shame for the two young lads who came in [Alex Jakubiak and Josh Doherty]. They’ve had their debut tarnished as people were booing because of how bad it was.”
The 2-1 defeat at Queens Park Rangers in the fourth last game of the campaign was one of the Golden Boys’ best performances of the season but it ended the team’s play-off chances.
There was a sense that some of the players didn’t care enough in the final three games and Deeney said: “I do get frustrated because people have spent good money to watch.
“Whether we gripe about how much people get paid, the basics are that we’ve all got bills to pay. So if someone is spending £100 to take their family to a game, I understand why they want to watch players who look like they care.
“So I understand why they can be frustrated but, on the whole, a lot of people stayed at the end [of the Huddersfield match] and that’s why the lads gave a lot of their stuff away. We do appreciate the support.”
Head coach Beppe Sannino questioned the team’s passion and commitment following the 4-2 defeat at Derby and 3-1 loss to Charlton.
Deeney believes that was “a generalisation” but did accept it was difficult for the Hornets boss to take.
He said: “Again, I can only speak for myself and I do what I need to do. I’ll keep running and I’ve been captain so you try to lead from the front, you keep working and keep on putting the effort in. Saying that I was captain when we had our three worst performances. So I’m probably out of the running for that next season,” the striker joked.
Watford were agonisingly close to securing automatic promotion at the end of the 2012/13 season and then reached the play-off final, losing in extra-time to Crystal Palace.
The Hornets started this season well, only losing once in their first nine Championship games. But a terrible run of form ended Gianfranco Zola’s reign in December and he was replaced by Sannino.
The experienced coach provided immediate stability and appeared to be improving his side in the attacking third as time went on. But four consecutive defeats meant the Golden Boys finished the campaign in 13th, 12 points below the play-offs.
Deeney spoke to the Watford Observer three weeks ago, before QPR had secured their promotion via the play-offs.
This week the Football League released statistics which showed Leicester City and Burnley – the two teams automatically promoted – used the fewest players in the Championship over the course of the season, with 23. Watford used the fourth most with 38.
Deeney recognised Leicester and Burnley’s stability when he was asked what went wrong this season.
“If I knew that I’d probably own the club,” Deeney initially responded. But then added: “If you look at the teams that have been promoted, their squad is settled, consistent and they have a clear idea of where they are going.
“It changes with different managers but everyone wants to get to the same goal, it’s just how you get there.
“With Burnley they are going to work harder than their opponents, be resolute and then look to score. To beat them you need to match that.
“Leicester have got a really good squad and were in the play-offs last season. Not much has changed since then but I think it’s helped them because they’ve been through the adversity and want to kick on.
“Their managers also have to take credit for what they’ve achieved this season but hopefully we can do that next year if we can keep a settled side.”
Last summer John Eustace and Jonathan Hogg departed the club, Fitz Hall wasn’t initially given a contract and Nyron Nosworthy was still injured.
During the course of the campaign, senior members of staff at Watford acknowledged the team lacked Championship know-how this time around.
Deeney said: “I think everybody agrees with that. I think if you can keep this group together next year and supplement it then it will stand the club in good stead.”
Noises from the club suggest that will be the case. Watford are hoping to keep the core of the squad together and have already signed players who have experience of playing in England; in Heurelho Gomes, Gabriel Tamas and Leicester’s Lloyd Dyer, whose arrival has yet to be confirmed. The club remain confident they can sign Daniel Tozser and are targeting the likes of former striker Danny Graham and Stevenage’s Luke Freeman.
Deeney was asked if he hoped the club would sign more British players. He replied: “This will sound stupid but it’s basically common sense; you’ve got to look carefully at who you bring in.
“The people who stood out last year were Eustacy, Hoggy, Fitz to an extent and Nyron but he wasn’t involved as much because of injury.
“They are people that know the league, they know the English culture and what needs to be done to win matches.
“If you sign up someone like a Chris Eagles, who is a good flair player, but he isn’t what we really need. We need leadership in both the dressing room on and off the pitch, that’s my opinion on it.”
Deeney was signed by Malky Mackay in 2010 and turned his Watford career around under the guidance of Sean Dyche.
Mackay and Dyche’s teams consisted of predominantly British and Irish players and prided themselves on having strong team unity.
The Pozzos’ takeover in 2012 has resulted in an influx of foreign imports, many of whom would have been too expensive for the club in previous seasons.
Deeney does not have an issue with the addition of foreign players. He said: “I’m quite open about it to be honest. If you look at teams in the Premier League, there are not loads of English-based players in each team.
“Southampton are getting a lot of praise at the moment for the amount of young English talent coming through but I think it’s just a sign of the times because everyone wants the best players available. Whether you’re English, Spanish or Nigerian, it doesn’t matter as long as you do the job on the pitch.
“Under Malky and Dychey there were different working restraints so we didn’t have 30 or 40 people around. In my first year I think there were 26 players signed and then there were a few loans. They knew things like paint balling days were needed to keep team morale together because that’s all they had to work with.”
Deeney also rejected any suggestion there were divisions in the squad, explaining: “No, you can look now [around the training ground] and everyone is together. I think what may look like a division is just because of the language barrier.
“I think that would happen if English people went over to Italy. If you saw someone who spoke English you’d think ‘thank God for that, I’ll go speak to him’. You don’t want to make yourself look like an idiot. It would be like me trying to speak Italian to these guys, I wouldn’t do it.
“So people have their cliques because certain players speak Italian and others speak Spanish, it happens everywhere.
“There are no divisions. We all wanted the same goal but I think it was a case of some people wanting to go one way and others wanting to go another way. It’s been a bit misconstrued along the way.”
Deeney followed last season’s 20 goals in all competitions with 25 this time around, despite only netting once in 11 games during a run where he admits he went away from the ugly side of the game too much.
As a 25-year-old Englishman who has scored 20 goals in the last two seasons, Deeney has already been linked with moves away from Watford. The club are expecting offers this summer.
Deeney said: “I can’t affect what happens. I want to do the testing days [before the summer break] and do what needs to be done here. I get married in 18 days (last weekend), have a honeymoon and then it’s my son’s birthday and he wants everything under the sun.
“I think we’re back in on June 23 and I go where I am told. I don’t think the transfer window opens until July 1 so I’ll definitely be here a week,” he said laughing.
“But it’s something that the club would have to answer. I am happy and everyone can see I’m happy. If the club gets a good offer they’ll sell me, if not they won’t.”
“If nobody bids for me then I won’t say I want to leave because nobody wants me,” he added.