Hughes lauds Deeney’s ‘bottle’ as penalty brace seals comeback
at Vicarage Road
Deeney 52 pen, 82 pen
He placed his hands on his hips. He looked at the ground. He glowered at Martin Dubravka. Then, Troy Deeney charged at the ball like a Pamplona bull and whacked the penalty where the diving Dubravka had been standing. Fifty-two minutes had passed and Watford were level in a game they looked destined to lose, even before Dwight Gayle tapped in after 23 minutes.
Eight minutes from time, Watford had another penalty and Deeney had to do it all over again. Scoring would probably ensure Watford’s safety. Miss and they were back in the relegation scrap.
This time around, Deeney wiped his nose with his shirt. Then the look at the ground. Then the glower at Dubravka. And then, Deeney repeated himself. Dubravka was a little closer, but the sequel had the same ending as its predecessor.
“To have the bottle to take and score two penalties on big occasions says a lot about him,” said Watford midfielder Will Hughes.
“You need players like that if you’re going to avoid relegation.”
Record signing Ismaila Sarr offered the X factor. Clearly fatigued, in the first half he was peripheral. Watford were transformed in the second and none more than Sarr. Neither penalty would have happened but for him.
“He’s been brilliant in the past few weeks,” Hughes said. “He’s a vital cog in our machine.”
For all that, this has been a season of three managers and turmoil. Nigel Pearson is the key to next term but, while he will pick up a substantial bonus for a great escape that ranks with his Leicester heroics of 2014-15, his deal expires at the end of the season.
“Until we’re mathematically safe, we’re not going to speak about next season,” said Hughes.