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Mark Yeates prepared to fight to keep hold of Watford place
When Mark Yeates joined Watford a year ago he spoke about how the stability of the club and manager Sean Dyche played an important factor in his decision. How things have changed in the last 12 months.
In a little over a year since Yeates signed at Vicarage Road, Dyche is no longer in charge, the Hornets have been bought by the Pozzo family and there has been an influx on foreign loanees.
But Yeates has embraced the changes and is enjoying his football after a promising start to the new campaign.
He has played every minute of the Hornets’ three matches this season and has been used not only out wide but in the centre of midfield.
It has been a good transformation from the end of the last campaign when the 27-year-old found himself out of the team and out of the squad.
Yeates is one of 36 professional players currently on Watford’s books and there is plenty of competition for first-team places.
But it is not a new situation for Yeates, who describes the battle for a starting berth as “part of the modern day game”.
He said: “I have always believed in my own ability and to be honest I have played at this level for a long time.
“I have been at a lot of clubs and there has always been a lot of competition. When I was at Middlesbrough and when I was at Sheffield United we had bundles of attacking options, it’s just part of the modern day game I suppose.
“At the end of the day, you just have to train to the best of your ability every day and when the gaffer picks his side, if you’re out there on a Saturday, whether things are going great or not, you have to give 110 per cent.”
Last season Watford had a tight-knit squad consisting of players from Britain and Ireland – plus Prince Buaben, who had spent four years in Scotland.
The Hornets now have a multi-national dressing room with Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Cameroon all represented. And possibly more nations could join that list before the transfer window shuts.
Despite the undeniable change of direction the club have taken since the Pozzo takeover, Yeates believes all the players, old and new, have the same objective.
“Football clubs are all the same; it’s pretty easy because we have all got one goal – to all train hard, to train well and to come out and get a result for the club,” he said.
“Obviously for the fans that come out to watch us, we want to try and put what we put into practice every day out on the pitch.
“All of the lads who have come in are really nice lads, some of them can’t speak great English and some of them can speak better English than me. They have all blended in really well.”
Under Dyche, Watford were renowned for being hard-working, competitive, resilient and a constantly improving outfit.
Zola has tried to create a more possession-based philosophy on the team and Yeates believes the Hornets’ new style will continue to improve over time.
“I think you can see we are playing a different kind of football; a lot more of playing out from the back and it’s going to take time,” he explained.
“In the second half of the season we physically dominated a lot of sides with the two big guys up front.
“But you can’t compare either of them (Zola and Dyche) because they are both different managers in their own ways, but you can’t take away what the old manager did.
“I wasn’t in the team towards last season but I still had a lot of respect for what he did. As for the staff he had in, I still speak to some of them. So in that sense there were no problems, but they (Zola and Dyche) each have their own ways and it’s different.
“We have a few players who find it better than last season but a few from last season might find this a bit more different, but that is football.”