Beforehand, however, for the hour-and-a-bit that actually mattered, when both sides were competing head-to-head for a match that hadn’t yet been completely decided, there was something entirely different. Something that five-two doesn’t capture. Four-nil gets it, mind. Four-nil is final, unarguable, absolutely resounding. Four-nil is a crushing victory, a brutal result. Four-nil hurts like five-two doesn’t, and this hurt. It was four-nil after sixty-six minutes. The rest was just an entertaining encore.
Clearly, this was a match that we could win. Obviously, they were lacking in confidence. But, crucially, the game still had to be won. Am I the only one slightly disappointed with the media focus on how bad Southampton were rather than our splendid display? Whilst they did disintegrated into a hapless rabble, it was only after they were beaten into submission by a Watford side on a mission.
Despite having a ticket, my mate Adam couldn’t make the game due to some nonsense about a work commitment. I called him after Dyer’s goal and could tell he was fearing the worse by the way he answered the phone. ‘One-nil – Dyer,’ was my simple message amidst the accompanying din of the Rookery. Maybe he’d heard it ‘0-1 – dire’. I’m not sure.
The 100 Greatest Watford Wins- No.52: Almost 19 months had passed since the teams had met in the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park. How things had changed. Only four of Watford’s semi-final line-up survived the constant rounds of cost-cutting. Southampton were a club in decline. Their new manager, Steve Wigley, was under fire, having gone 10 Premiership games without a win. The Saints were there for the taking.