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Watford defender Neuton vows to improve his performances under Gianfranco Zola this season
This article was printed in Friday's Watford Observer
It is fair to say Neuton has not made the ideal first impression with the Watford supporters but the Brazilian has stressed he is here to stay and is determined to become a fans favourite.
Neuton has yet to win as a Watford player. After struggling during his debut at Bolton Wanderers, he was partly at fault for the deciding penalty against Brighton and Hove Albion and he was beaten in the air for Bristol City’s first goal in a 2-2 draw, and was subsequently substituted.
The centre-back was in the Udinese squad for most of last season following his transfer from Gremio but only made nine appearances in all competitions – although five of those were in European games.
“I am happy to be back playing because I didn’t play much last year but I know I can do much, much better than I have played in recent matches,” Neuton admitted during an interview with the Watford Observer, which was conducted with the help of a translator.
Neuton has had the unenviable task of trying to replace fans’ favourite Martin Taylor at centre-half, after the commanding defender was sold to Sheffield Wednesday on transfer deadline day despite being one of the most consistent centre-backs in the Championship in recent years.
When asked whether he has found it difficult trying to replace Taylor, Neuton replied: “No, it is not a problem. I will work hard to become a fans’ favourite as well because I want to make them happy.”
As an observer, it seems as though Neuton has struggled with the physicality of the Championship but he does not believe it will be a problem.
The 22-year-old admits he has found it hard to adjust to the tempo of English football though, especially after playing so little last season.
He said: “Obviously the Championship is physical but it has not been a problem because I expected it before I came to the club.
“In the first game I played against Kevin Davies and that was tough but it is good to know how you play here.
“More than the physicality, it is because I do not have the rhythm of the match yet because I did not play much last year and if I find the rhythm then I believe I will do very well here.”
The centre-back is one of 16 summer signings and all of the players we have spoken to so far have had one thing in common; their desire to help Watford return to the top flight of English football.
There has been a misconception among many that all 13 loan players will return to their parent clubs next season but history suggests – using the Pozzos’ other club Granada as an example – that many of them will remain with Watford beyond the initial year.
Neuton is one of those who expects to stay in England, and at Watford, for the long term.
He said: “My dream now is to help Watford to the Premier League and I want to stay here for a long period and not just one year.
“I do not expect to win the division immediately but my objective is to help Watford to the Premier League.”
Like most of the new signings, Neuton has been living in a hotel but has recently moved into his own flat, something which has helped the player immensely.
He admitted feeling homesick when he joined Udinese, as it was the first time he left Brazil, but stressed that has not been the case at Watford.
Neuton’s cousin has moved to England with him and several of his family members visit on a monthly basis.
The defender said: “I like it in England. When you first come here it is difficult when you are living in a hotel.
“If you live in a hotel for two or three days, or a week, then it is okay but after a couple of weeks, it is difficult because you are just in a room.
“But now I have a house, I am happy. London is beautiful and this area is beautiful.
“I would like to stay here, I think I can do very well and we have the possibility to build something great at Watford.”
Neuton arrived in Hertfordshire unable to speak a word of English and admitted the language barrier has been one of the biggest problems for him, both on and off the pitch.
He has been fortunate that some of the other players, such as Fernando Forestieri, speak Portuguese and are in the same position when it comes to being unable to communicate in English.
Head coach Gianfranco Zola has stated the players will be fined if they do not learn the language and now the summer signings’ accommodation has been sorted out, they will have a whole day of lessons rather than one session a week.
On Zola’s threat of fines, Neuton said: “It must be this way because if you do not have to pay, then footballers could just say ‘well I am going to enjoy this life and the language will come later’.
“Also we are all good guys and we want to learn English as soon as possible any way.”
Zola rates Neuton highly but has stressed it is not only his ability to speak English which has to improve.
“I’ve been pleased with certain things [when it comes to Neuton] whereas in other areas I need to see an improvement,” the head coach said.
“I’m confident that he’s a quality player and he is only 22 so I’m positive [he will improve].”
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