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Sean Murray: Beppe Sannino's chest-thumping Watford team talk paid off at Manchester City
Watford head coach Beppe Sannino delivered a chest-thumping team talk before the FA Cup tie with Manchester City and creative midfielder Sean Murray believes it worked.
Sannino is a passionate man and likes his players to "play for the shirt and town".
When asked if Sannino delivered a "chest-thumping" message to the players before kick-off, Murray replied: "It was exactly like that and I think it showed in the way we started. It helped the team; with the players running about everywhere, being in the right positions and communicating well with each other.
"I think that passion showed in the first half."
Watford were far superior to one of the best teams in Europe in the opening 45 minutes on Saturday and could have led by a greater margin than two goals at the break.
Murray, who Manchester City tried to sign before he agreed his first pro deal, said: "At half time he (Sannino) told us to keep going and don’t lack any concentration because teams like this will always create chances."
City went on to win the game 4-2 after two late goals but Murray said: "At the end of the match he (Sannino) said it was a good game and we can keep our heads held high because we gave a good account of ourselves; to come to a place like this and give them a scare is brilliant."
Sannino opted to play in a 3-4-2-1 formation at the Etihad; a system the players had only started working on five days previously.
But the Hornets' head coach showed what he could do in a short space of time as the players implemented his game plan perfectly in the first half.
Murray said: "We had been working on it all week; me and Cristian (Battocchio) in the middle with Ikechi (Anya) and Fernando (Forestieri) further forward. Because of injuries we maybe had to resort to the formation but I think we looked as organised as before in that formation. I thought we did well in it.
"It was difficult to get the shape right, especially with two deeper players and then two in front, who you need to get back and defend, but I thought they did great today. Everyone played a part; there was good talking from behind us as well which helped us massively.
"We worked on the formation in the week and I think that work paid off."
He continued: "We knew there were suspensions and injuries so we had to make the most of the players we had.
"I liked the formation a lot and it gave us the chance to play forward passes because there was always an option open. I liked it a lot."
The formation allowed Watford to play on the counter-attack with impressive regularity, as Ikechi Anya and Fernando Forestieri found plenty of space behind the City midfield.
The Hornets were able to defend in numbers whilst still providing an opposing threat to the extent rarely seen at the Etihad this season.
Murray said: "We take a huge amount of positives from the way we played in the first half. For large parts, we stopped them playing and played our own football. The main factor was our counter-attacking play. Troy was winning it back and Ikechi and Fernando were running off him, which is how we got the two goals.
"We can take huge positives from the first half and then second half their quality overrode how the game was going. They made a few changes at half time and that gave them the little boost needed."
Watford were 199-1 to beat City 2-0 before kick-off and Murray admitted: "It maybe came as a bit of a surprise how we were playing. But it gave us confidence and that extra inch we needed in certain places on the field.
"It would always be surprising if a team was dominating Manchester City at the Etihad. It wasn’t to be today but we can take a lot of positives from it."
With Bayern Munich the only team to beat the Sky Blues at home this season, the point was made to Murray that the Golden Boys going 2-0 up was "a pinch yourself moment".
"That is right," he replied, "and it shows how well we have been working this week in training and what the new manager expects from us.
"It was a really good feeling being in front but at the end of the day we lost the game and the second half wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be but their quality showed.
"We can move on and take the positives, and also work on the negatives from the game."
Watford's display was even more impressive considering they were missing five players who would almost certainly have made the final 18-man squad, plus Almen Abdi and Marco Cassetti were only fit enough to make the bench.
Murray said: "I think the injuries and suspensions meant it was a good opportunity for the players who haven’t been playing every week. The players showed the manager they can play in big games and there is no bigger game to prove yourself than this. Everyone had a great game and you couldn’t fault anyone; from the keeper to the striker, everyone played well for us."
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