Watford 2 Middlesbrough 0: Southgate's credentials undermined by defeat

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The Independent Online

Could this be the result that ends up defining the season for the respective managers of these two clubs? Watford's first League win had Adrian Boothroyd purring about how his side will definitely still be around this time next year, while poor Gareth Southgate has a nervous few days' wait to see if he can remain in charge.

Boothroyd is used to talking a good game and even though a hard winter is surely in store with his high-class marksman Marlon King ruled out for the season following a knee cartilage operation, the youngest manager in the Premiership was not about to let his own head drop.

"Is that because we've won?" joked Boothroyd as the first of the evening's firework displays got under way next to Vicarage Road 30 minutes after the game. "I'm not going to get depressed about Marlon because we've got to be positive and move on."

Boothroyd revealed that a piece of bone had come loose while King was under the knife. "It was one of those freak things where you think it will be a routine operation," he said. "But it makes you a stronger person and Marlon will be back next year to grace the Premiership. I genuinely believe there are three worse teams than us."

He did not mention Middlesbrough by name but the fact that Southgate's side have now given all three promoted clubs their first Premiership wins of the season will not be lost on their manager, whose three-month dispensation for not having the required Uefa Pro licence ends at the weekend.

"There is a meeting this week to discuss the situation and everyone is trying to work towards a solution," he said about his lack of qualifications. "We're trying to find a way forward but if they tell me I can't do it, I can't do it.

"I may not have the coaching qualifications but I do have 19 years of experience in the game. I want to be given the opportunity to carry on and I intend to work every hour I can to put things right."

Many more performances like this, however, and the Middlesbrough board will not need to find too many excuses to replace the former England defender. The fact that virtually the entire game was dominated by Watford says how poor Boro were. Lifeless, void of ideas, insipid, no motivation, no drive. And that's being kind.

Even the goals conceded were as much down to Middlesbrough errors as Watford creativity. Jonathan Woodgate headed Gavin Mahon's throw into the path of Hameur Bouazza, then deflected the Frenchman's relatively tame shot inside Mark Schwarzer's post.

Watford proceeded to set up and squander further chances, aided by more abject defending, until Ashley Young made the game safe. George Boateng inexplicably decided to head a loose ball back towards his own goal, straight into the path of Young who finished expertly for his fourth goal of the season.

Goals: Woodgate og (6) 1-0; Young (60) 2-0.

Watford (4-4-2): Lee; Doyley, Shittu, DeMerit, Stewart; Smith, Francis, Mahon, Bouazza; Young, Henderson. Substitutes not used: Chamberlain (gk), Mackay, Powell, Priskin, Spring.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2) Schwarzer; Pogatetz, Woodgate, Huth, Arca (Morrison, h-t); Davies, Euell (Cattermole, 68), Boateng,Downing; Yakubu, Maccarone (Graham, 80). Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Taylor.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

Booked: Watford Young; Middlesbrough Woodgate.

Man of the match: Bouazza.

Attendance: 18,951.

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