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Watford stalwart Lloyd Doyley welcomes Gianfranco Zola's change in style
Lloyd Doyley has enjoyed a successful career because of his defensive skill, and by his own admission not necessarily his ability on the ball, but the Hornets stalwart has still welcomed the new passing style Gianfranco Zola is trying to implement.
Doyley could be described as ‘an old school’ full-back – he is a defender first and foremost, whereas many of those in the same position are more attack-minded, even if the defensive side of their game leaves a lot to be desired.
The new Zola-led regime is well under way and the Italian has placed a real emphasis on passing football and playing from the back.
It is a style of play that, many will argue, suits Lee Hodson more than Doyley but the more experienced full-back has still welcomed Zola’s philosophy.
“It’s a good, positive move,” Doyley said.
“We have been working on it from the first day of pre-season, so we know what he wants. And against teams like Barnet last week, we showed that a lot of teams cannot cope with it.”
Despite retaining possession well and having good defensive shape against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Watford were defeated for the first time in their pre-season campaign after a 1-0 loss – a game which marked Doyley’s testimonial.
But the 29-year-old feels the new system will work come the start of the domestic campaign.
He said: “Obviously Spurs put us under a lot of pressure and that made it more difficult, but we aren’t going to be playing Tottenham every week.”
Doyley was speaking on Sunday evening following his testimonial, which was watched by almost 10,000 supporters.
Two days later the Hornets finished their pre-season campaign with a 3-0 victory over Gillingham, with a team consisting largely of young professionals.
The club’s owners have stated the long-term target is promotion to the Premier League but with a host of signings and a new management team, it is hard to second guess what kind of season awaits Watford supporters.
Doyley said the players have not set a goal for the 2012/13 campaign yet but he expects Zola’s pedigree as a player to help improve the Hornets.
He said: “To be honest, as a team we haven’t really spoken about what we are actually striving for this season. I think I will leave that for the boss, and he hasn’t told us yet.
“This club is about progression, so I am sure we will want to get higher than 11th place and the 64 points we had last season. Our aim will always be to better that.
“It’s different to what it has been like in the last few years, but everything is positively good. He has brought in some things which have come from the very top of the game,” Doyley added.
Doyley started his Hornets career in 2001, making his debut against Birmingham City. Since then he has racked up 370 appearances, scoring one memorable goal along the way.
The academy graduate is going into his 12th season but in the wake of his testimonial, the defender stated there is still plenty more to come from him.
He said: “The testimonial is not the end of my career; it’s just that I have been here for ten years. There is still a long time to go before my career is over.”
It was a touching affair last Sunday, as the defender was introduced through a guard of honour of Watford and Spurs players.
He was substituted just after the hour-mark to a rousing reception from the crowd – one of whom was his friend and former team-mate Adrian Mariappa , which Doyley said made the day more special.
“I am just grateful that over 9,000 fans turned up,” Doyley said.
“Emotionally, I am not used to that much attention, but it was a great feeling.”