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Watford boss Gianfranco Zola says players must stand up and be counted to revive promotion challenge
Gianfranco Zola insists warrior spirit is needed from his Watford players to lift the team out of its recent slump and revive the Hornets’ promotion challenge this season.
The Golden Boys battled to a 0-0 draw at third-placed Burnley on Tuesday night and the hard-earned point came as a big boost to morale after two consecutive home defeats.
The Hornets have slipped to 12th in the Championship and are now seven points adrift of the play-offs but there was enough in the performance at Turf Moor to suggest Watford may have turned a corner.
Zola insists however there is still much work to do and wants his players to stand up and be counted, starting at Leeds United tomorrow (Saturday).
“What I am looking for now is people with focus, people who are very motivated, people who are aggressive, people who are brave and people who can give us that platform so we can build our football again,” he said.
“It is important we focus more on showing a good attitude, on being hard working and determined – those are the types of qualities we need considering out situation at the moment.
“The fluidity and attacking football is there, we have always done that and we will always be able to go back to that – it hasn’t disappeared.
“But we need to understand there are always moments in a season where you need to earn the right to play football and this is certainly one of those moments.”
Watford have failed to score in four of their last five league matches and the Hornets were gutsy but far from glamourous against Burnley on Tuesday night.
Zola insists however he is not concerned about the team’s attacking elements.
“The attacking side will come back naturally,” he said. “There are moments to play the type of football we want to play but to play like that you have to have a lot of confidence.
“There are also moments when you badly need results and in those moments, it is important to focus on the hard work.”
Zola added: “We have to make sure we get some consistency in our results but above all I want to see consistency in terms of attitude, work rate and the qualities we showed the other day against Burnley – I think that is most important.”
When asked if he had ever doubted the commitment of his current squad, Zola was adamant.
“Never, absolutely never,” the Hornets head coach replied. “I think people were trying but trying in the wrong way. We were trying to play nice football but we were forgetting that also you have to work hard defensively and be resilient.”
Watford started with five players under the age of 23 on Tuesday night and only two players were older than 25.
Zola admits some less experienced members of his squad need to show higher levels of concentration in games to make sure Watford play to their full potential.
He explained: “I have a lot of young players and with young players they sometimes want to overdo things – they don’t always have the experience to get the balance right.
“The tendency is they play a good game for 80 minutes or 85 minutes and then in the last five minutes they make a mistake that can cost you a game.
“We have lost or drawn games because somebody made one mistake and that is the difference in this league.
“If you are Barcelona you can afford to not always be 100 per cent because you know you have the quality still to win the game.
“But we are not Barcelona, we are a very, very good team but everyone needs to play at the top level otherwise you leave it up to chance, it becomes 50/50. That in my opinion is why we are in this situation.”
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