When a new manager takes over and introduces his concepts and requirements to the squad it is, of necessity, a gradual process. But it is extremely desirable that a little luck accompanies the renewed zest of the players on the field.

The return of Graham Taylor in 1996, as I mentioned previously, resulted in the Hornets taking a 2-0 lead over Ipswich Town and then seeing the visitors pull back and win 3-2 at Vicarage Road. There was little Graham could do about the squad’s limitations, which he perceived as mainly being a lack of overall fitness. Simply, the Hornets ran out of steam.

A defeat at Stoke City followed before a goalless draw at Reading was succeeded by another goalless draw, this time at home to title-chasing Derby County.

“Overall, there is a reluctance to shoot and also, it seems, a reluctance to put the ball in the box,’ Graham observed. “This is a result of not winning and of trying too hard to get things right and perfect.”

Graham stressed they were not likely to dive into the transfer market to solve the ills of their shot-shy squad but did not rule out loan signings. He again reiterated his intention to “move upstairs” at the end of the season but I, along with many others, suspected he would stay on as manager if they avoided the drop.

“You can win four games on the trot in this division. Anyone can and that would change the perspective for us. Winning a game would give us a lift,” he said as the league table showed Watford anchored to the bottom of the table six points adrift of their nearest rivals, Port Vale.

Taylor had a point for at the time Luton Town were looking over their shoulders somewhat anxiously but were 10 points ahead of the Hornets. They were to finish the season in bottom place. Teams could hit a winning run just as easily as they can hit a bad one.

The temporary team manager pointed out that the situation the Hornets found themselves in was not as a result of this season but “a steady decline over nine years”.

He said: “The club has been out of the top flight now, for longer than we were in it. We have to try and prove to the public that the decline is over. It only takes a month to undo what has been built in a year but it will take you a year to put it back. This club has undone what it achieved in the 1980s and has done so over nine years.”

Graham was keen to avoid apportioning blame but obviously he had left in 1987 because Elton John was taking his eye off the ball and looking to sell the club.

The appointment of Dave Bassett set in process the unravelling of all the things the club had stood for off the field, and some of the standards they had set on it: namely discipline, fairness and a refusal to play the offside game.

The decline continued with a succession of appointments of under-achieving and inexperienced managers.

It transpired after his return, the dressing room had to be won over by Graham after Elton had remarked at a press conference that there was “a lot of dead wood at the club and up to 10 players would be cleared out of the club in the summer”.

“If he said that, I did not hear it at the press conference but I understand he said it in an interview with several journalists,” said Graham. “If he said that about 10 players being axed, then he knows something I do not know.

“I have told the players not to be naïve and pick up papers and believe what they read. My advice to them is don’t. If there is anything of that nature to be said to players, then I will say it to their face, not through the newspapers.”

Graham was influencing his side and they began to look organised. The Hornets overcame Oldham Athletic at home 2-1 – the long awaited first victory of 1996, courtesy of two shots from ‘Rambo’ Craig Ramage.

Graham had decided relatively early in his managerial stint that Rambo was best utilised as a number 10, playing off the striker. The player lacked the industry to be truly effective in midfield where his defensive work let him down.

The Hornets then took part in what some viewed as an eight-goal farce at The Hawthorns, taking another point.

Ramage again grabbed a brace and if the fans still accepted the possibility of playing third tier football in the next term, they at least travelled back down the motorway with a smile on their faces, for pride had been restored.

Three goals down after 27 minutes, the Hornets fought back superbly, pulling two goals back and then, after Albion had scored a fourth, Watford rattled in two more to take a point.

“Four goals in a week is good by any standard,” said Graham . “I have played Craig where I think we can use his strengths.

“I don’t want to see him in our defensive third of the pitch. I have told him that he is not alone in not being the fittest but if wants to go far, he has to ally his undoubted talent with hard work. If he does that then I will back him..

“It is not Kenny, Luther or I who came back from three goals down. It was the players and they have done superbly.”

Luther Blissett recalled “when a certain dusky striker” scored in a 4-4 draw against Walsall years before.

“This was one of the games that would bring the crowds back. The spirit among the players is very good.

“I must admit when West Brom scored their fourth (to make it 4-2) we all thought that was it. But the players showed tremendous spirit.”