Watford 6 Bournemouth 1 match report: Troy Deeney hat-trick send Hornets top of the league

Striker was in jail last year but now he’s helping club escape Championship

Vicarage Road

The FA had designated this as Sir Bobby Robson Day and it was an afternoon where one of his phrases hung heavily in the August air. “If,” said the man who might have won the World Cup for England. “If... biggest word in football, son.”

If is the biggest word in Watford. If they had had played to their potential in the play-off final against Crystal Palace, if Kevin Phillips had not produced an unstoppable penalty, they would be making their final preparations for the Premier League, wondering how the money would be spent and whether the glamour would have taken on a tinsel-like quality come November.
Even had Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, allowed Gianfranco Zola to spend no money at all in the summer, rather than bring in 13 players, they would have been better prepared than Hull for the season ahead.
As it is, Watford are top of the embryonic table as if Wembley had been a blip and, on this evidence, they can still claim to be the best footballing side in the Championship. This, their first home game of the season, was a statement of naked intent.
When, put through by Almen Abdi, Lewis McGugan fractionally delayed his shot to give him just the angle to drive into the top corner of Ryan Allsop’s net, it was Watford’s fourth and a chant of: “We’re just too good for you” began bouncing around Vicarage Road.
That was, however, a long way from the truth for much of the match.  Until they caved in early in the second half, Bournemouth looked at least as good, if not better than Watford.
When Lewis Grabban, who has now scored all three of Bournemouth’s goals in the Championship, slid home Ryan Fraser’s low cross, it was an equaliser they had earned. Bournemouth’s manager, Eddie Howe, grew up in Amersham and Watford were the team he went to watch: “I think they will be the team to beat,” he said. “But I think this will be the same kind of Championship that it was last season, very open and very difficult to read.”
Only after the fourth goal did Howe’s prophesy, delivered before Bournemouth’s opening-day victory against Charlton,  that: “this is a league where we shouldn’t really be” sound like a warning.
Towards the end, Bournemouth disintegrated, allowing Troy Deeney, who had scored Watford’s winner at Birmingham the Saturday before, to leave with the match ball stuffed under his shirt grinning at everybody after completing a hat-trick. The last two were a shot from the edge of the area and a penalty after Diego Fabbrini had been hauled wearily down.
The first was more important because the game was then still in the balance with Watford 2-1 up. Both goals had come from corners converted by Gabriele Angella, one of the flood of footballers from the Pozzos’ other club, Udinese, who with Zola, have transformed football on the edge of the M25.
Fernando Forestieri, another of Udinese’s exports, judged his through-ball superbly and Deeney muscled his way through two defenders to place his shot over Allsop’s prostrate figure. Last August, Deeney was serving a sentence for affray after kicking a man in the head. Deeney was released early because of the remorse he had shown. His redemption is rather more important and rather more personal than his club’s failure to make the Premier League but it is a stitch in the same fabric.
Nevertheless, for those clubs looking for a last-minute stopgap striker, Deeney may tick a number of boxes. “He is in a good environment here and maybe we can help him improve,” said Zola. “He has worked a lot on his physical condition. He has power and ability and one of the qualities people don’t see is his intelligence. I hope he stays.”
Then came the fourth, very similar to the third except the pass came from Almen Abdi and the finish was McGugan‘s. It was over.
Nevertheless, Zola emphasised just how far Watford still have to travel and should they win automatic promotion, they will become only the third side since the formation of the Premier League to do so after losing a play-off final.
The first were Sunderland. After losing to Charlton on penalties after a 4-4 draw in 1998, Peter Reid ordered the team bus to stop at a pub outside Peterborough and told his players to get drunk and wash away the taste of defeat.
It must have worked because the following season Sunderland won the league with 105 points. As someone who drinks nothing stronger than espresso, they are tactics that to Zola would seem incomprehensible. But he is travelling, more soberly, to the same destination.

Watford (3-5-2): Almunia; Doyley, Angella, Cassetti;  Anya, Faraoni, Abdi, Iriney, McGugan; Forestieri, Deeney.

Substitutes: Bond (g), Ekstrand, Battocchio, Acuna, Pudil, Fabbrini, Smith.

Bournemouth (4-1-4-1): Allsop; Francis, Ward, Cook, Daniels; MacDonald; Fraser, Arter, Surman, Pugh; Grabban.

Substitutes: Flahavan (g), Pitman, Harte, Thomas, Hughes, Stockley, O’Kane

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain