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Gianfranco Zola insists Watford will have to show guts as well as glamour to reach top of the Championship
Gianfranco Zola insists Watford must be prepared to win ugly this season if they are to challenge for the top positions in the Championship.
The Hornets climbed into the play-off places on Tuesday night with a last-gasp victory over Doncaster Rovers despite being far from their best at Vicarage Road.
Zola’s side travel to struggling Barnsley tomorrow (Saturday) and the Hornets head coach is adamant his team will need to be gutsy as well as glamorous this season if they are to achieve promotion to the Premier League.
“It is very important to be able to grind out wins as well because if we want to be a team challenging at the top this season we have to win games ugly,” Zola said.
“We cannot win games playing entertaining football all the time so it is important that we become mature as a team and that we can win games even when we are not playing with style.
“You have 90 minutes in a game and you have to keep trying the things you normally do. Maybe they haven’t worked after 20 minutes or 45 minutes but you have to be patient and then be ready when the chances come.”
Only three of Watford’s opening nine matches have been decided by more than one goal and Zola insists he will always be just as satisfied with a tight victory as a convincing one.
“No matter how you play, it is important to win games,” he continued. “Sometimes you cannot play your best football for whatever reason but you need to be able to win games anyway and that was the case against Doncaster.
“That will make a big difference in terms of confidence and ability and I am delighted we are starting to do that.
“I will be just as delighted grinding out wins as if we win playing great football and by more than one goal.”
The Hornets are sixth in the league but are still five points better off than this time last year when they went on to finish third.
Heightened expectation has led some opponents to focus on disrupting Watford’s rhythm but Zola believes his team are learning to be patient.
“I know that when a team is on the up and is getting better and better there comes a time when it’s more likely the opposition will try to stop you from playing,” he said.
“So you have to learn to be patient, to build up possession and win games anyway and in that sense the game we won against Doncaster was very good. I’m looking forward to us winning more games like that.”
Barnsley are currently second from bottom in the table, having only won once in their opening seven games and the Tykes have the worst defensive record in the division, conceding 17 goals so far.
Zola is taking nothing for granted though, and recalls last season’s result in the same fixture which saw Barnsley record a surprise 1-0 win.
He added: “It will be a difficult trip as it was last year but I’m looking forward to it. It can be a good match for us and I know we will have learned a lot from last season’s defeat.”
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