Watford are a very direct side. I heard that said many times over the last two weeks, with even England boss Gareth Southgate contending “they have their own way of playing”. The insinuations were somewhat familiar. I looked at various newspaper articles and searched for a Jeff Powell by-line.

We used to hear these remarks years ago, when Watford spent several seasons ruffling many top-flight feathers with their “direct style”, which was christened the Watford Way.

As Ian Bolton, one of the best long-ball passers I have ever seen, said in the recent book Rocket Men, it was fair enough not liking Watford’s approach, but no credit was given by the critics for their achievement in climbing from Division 4 to second place in the old equivalent of the Premier League. The meritorious fact Watford had four players – a third of their team – who had become regulars in the Division 4 campaign six years earlier, was overlooked.

Everyone was in a hurry to rubbish and bury the Hornets and their heretical manager Graham Taylor. It was claimed they were direct, by-passed the midfield and lacked subtlety but I was not alone in thinking there was a political element to the attacks on Watford for Graham was already managing the England youngsters and the fear was he might turn England into a direct team.

Elements in Fleet Street were big fans of Venners (Terry Venables to those not in the intimate circle of reporters) and they were keen to champion his cause for England. Ultimately they got their wish, although Graham won the FA vote to try and replace Bobby Robson’s ageing team. Venables came later and took England to the semi-finals of the Euros, when the tournament was based in the UK and boasts an impressive England record until you appreciate the number of home games played.

Certainly when Dave Bassett’s Wimbledon burst on the scene, there was a far greater degree of tolerance from Fleet Street towards the “Crazy Gang”. They were not pilloried despite the fact they crossed the line in physicality many times as a policy and favoured a stultifying offside game. Bassett and his men had studied the Watford Way back in Division 3 and were seen taking notes in the stands but when they came to apply it, they stripped it down to the basics.

Yet in the memories of some critics, the two sides seemed to be fused and Taylor was said to favour a bullying great centre forward, forgetting that Ross Jenkins was only booked once in his career and while George Riley was more robust, the likes of Colin West and Marc Falco were neither big nor that aggressive.

Watford always looked for the forward option whether it was the sand-wedge or nine-iron chip forward from centre-half Steve Sims, or those arrowing 30-40-yard passes from the feet of Bolton.

Now we hear the current Hornets are direct. What that means in the context of Saturday’s game against Manchester United, I am not so certain. Troy Deeney and Andre Gray do not take their centre-halves for a walk: they do not indulge in the cross-overs deployed by Luther Blissett and Jenkins. The ball appeared to be worked down the flanks or through midfield and then out to the wings for the crosses to be rained in. They looked competent and, apart for a 15-minute spell when they lost the plot and United scored twice, confident on the ball.

They did not hit the ball through the middle for speedy front men to run onto. Nor did they indulge in the passing sideways and back, which defenders tend to indulge in ad nauseam, while the statisticians rave about how many successful passes teams made even when they do not test opponents.

I enjoyed and enjoy watching Watford, which is more than can be said last season. As my mate Ross Jenkins said: “It is good to go down to our Spanish bar to watch Watford without a resigned look on your face. You feel they will look to move the ball forward whenever possible, which is more than you can say for a lot of teams. But I would not describe them as direct in our sense back in 1982. They play the ball out to the wings and look for crosses, just as the great Liverpool sides did.

“Liverpool often played more long balls than we did in matches against us and Forest would look to get in the crosses. But looking at today’s Watford, I feel more encouraged that they will have a comfortable season than I have done since they got into the Premier.” Amen to that.

Paul Pogba turned up for Saturday’s match, hit some superb passes but disappeared after an hour when Watford began to turn the screw. Fellaini, Matic, Lindelof, Smalling, Pogba augmented by Bailly and McTominay constituted a bastion of giants as they faced little Watford. Jose Mourinho’s tactics said a lot about Watford but also about United, who look a lumbering work in progress.

For a spell towards the end of the first half when Ben Foster made as many vital saves as De Gea was to muster by the end of the game, it looked as if the fixture was a step too far for the Hornets. The second half turned that opinion on its head.

The 100 per cent and unbeaten start has come to an end but the Hornets can take a lot of credit from that overall display. If being direct is not passing the ball from full back to centre half to the other full back and back again, then I am all in favour of ‘direct’; I just think it is a misnomer.

I leave you with a quote from The Times when Deeney was asked about being overlooked for England.

“To be honest,” he said, “I just thought Southgate’s comment of, ‘He’s great for Watford, but not for what we want,’ I thought it was downplaying Watford a little bit really, like we’re just some small team. I just think what it says as a message is that unless you’re a certain mould of player or play in a certain way, don’t worry about England. That’s what I took from it. Striker-wise I don’t know what he wants. It can’t be mobility and getting around and scoring goals because that’s what I’m doing. But I do get it. I understand the decision. I’m not going to bed thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m not in the England squad.’ ” I loved it.