Sheffield Wednesday 0 Watford 1: Boothroyd recipe puts victory first and style second

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Given the direct, no-frills football his Watford side favour, when Aidy Boothroyd was put forward as a potential England coach it was hard not to notice a collective shudder among those who feel the national team should have at least some measure of aesthetic appeal.

The suggestion came from Howard Wilkinson, the former technical director of the Football Association, who nominated Boothroyd as an English-born manager possessed of "a little bit extra" and perhaps worthy of a place on Fabio Capello's staff.

It was an assessment bound to start a debate. When he was a youthful first-team coach at Leeds United, Boothroyd was seen as an innovator whose ideas excited and inspired his players. Yet nowadays his own enthusiasm is clearly of a more pragmatic nature. Above all he wants to win and if style has to take a back seat he makes no apology.

He said as much at Hillsborough on Saturday, when Watford took a sixth-minute lead, decided the best route to maximum points was to defend it for all their worth and crowd out Sheffield Wednesday's attacks. It was no joy to watch but after stuttering lately they will celebrate Christmas back on top of the Championship table, by which token the policy was a complete success.

"We all aim for that balance of results and quality but you don't always get it, unfortunately, and I would rather win than provide a terrific performance and lose," Boothroyd said. "The master plan is that we will develop and get better in our performances but you have to go for efficiency first and style second and anyone who goes for style first ends up losing a lot of games."

The Wednesday manager, Brian Laws, knew his team would have their work cut out the moment Jobi McAnuff ran on to Nathan Ellington's well weighted through-pass and slotted the ball wide of the goalkeeper Lee Grant.

"Watford play in a certain way, with two banks of four and it is effective," Laws said. "Whenever they go a goal in front they seem to hold on to it.

"My players are dejected. Watford are top of the League, we are at the bottom end of the table, but it does not show in the performance that there is a great difference between us. We created enough but you have to have that bit of quality in the final third."

With debts of 26m and no immediate prospect of new investment, Laws has little scope for improving his quality quotient in the transfer window but he hopes the club will at least sanction signing the Derby defender Michael Johnson on a permanent deal after his loan ended on Saturday.

Goal: McAnuff (6) 0-1.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Grant; Bullen, Hinds, M Johnson, Spurr; J Johnson (Burton 70), Whelan, Watson (Folly

71), O'Brien (Esajas 84); Small, Tudgay. Substitutes not used: Beevers, Lunt.

Watford (4-4-2): Lee; Doyley, DeMerit, Jackson, Stewart; Smith, O'Toole, Francis, McAnuff (Williamson, 81); King, Ellington (Henderson, 73). Substitutes not used: Poom (gk), Shittu, Ainsworth.

Referee: C Oliver (Northumberland).

Booked: Sheffield Wednesday Small, Whelan.

Man of the match: Ellington.

Attendance: 19,641.

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