Month: May 2019
Watford’s road to the FA Cup final: Gerard Deulofeu comes off the bench to sink Wolverhampton Wanderers
John Barnes: ‘Winning the FA Cup would be so special for Watford… you remember honours, not whether you’ve stayed in the league for eight or nine years’
Troy Deeney: ‘Vincent Kompany is the league’s best centre-back since Rio Ferdinand, but if I’m on form he’ll have a tough day’
What if we win? Yes, we’re underdogs. But at least we’re that. Any club in the country would love to be that right now, certainly Wolves who, whatever your attitude after three eventful games will be watching on nervously, telling themselves that this is something they can’t affect, because they can’t affect it, but worrying anyway.
Rickmansworth High Street, Tuesday 14th May
Watford, Friday 17th May
Watford vs West Ham United: Jose Holebas to miss FA Cup final after sending off in heavy Hornets defeat
As warm-ups for Wembley finals go, this was a pretty tortuous audition for Watford. With an end-of-season vibe in the stands, this was always going to be the sideshow to the main event of the FA Cup final next Saturday but 10-man Watford spectacularly imploded against a clinical West Ham to hand Manuel Pellegrini’s side a top-half finish at their expense.
The normally ice-cool Gracia was left incandescent by an extremely harsh red card for José Holebas, who now looks set to miss the biggest game of his life. It was history cruelly repeating itself after Watford’s captain Wilf Rostron was suspended for the 1984 final after being sent off undeservedly at derby rivals Luton.
I still have not got over the injustice done to Wilf Rostron in 1984. My sister took a banner to the final declaring “Wilf is Innocent”. I have never forgiven either Roger Milford or Paul Elliott for their parts in him missing the cup final. The thought that Jose Holebas, who has become a bit of a cult figure for his Eeyore-like demeanour but has also been one of our best players this season, was going to miss the final broke my heart. I have to say that it was a good thing that I chose to work from home today as, when the news came through that the red card had been overturned, I sobbed uncontrollably. Suddenly there is a good omen for next Saturday. Jose is innocent and the Hornets have the opportunity to choose from their best players for the final. Our chances are slim, but in a cup game you never know. As long as we all take our best game to Wembley, we have a chance. Oh, there go those nerves again.
A disappointing finale to an otherwise fantastic season. Frustrating to have finished in the bottom half of the Premier League, but don’t let that fool you…A record points total and an FA Cup Final still to look forward to. Progress. That’s all we wanted at the start of the season and we got it. Next season we aim to progress further.
FA Cup finalists Watford started brightly, going close through Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu, but were left to rue their slow start to the second half that saw Chelsea quickly take the game away from them.
Even at a club where life is never simple these are strange times indeed. Chelsea have secured Champions League football, reached the League Cup final earlier this year and could secure passage to Baku and the Europa League final later this week, yet Sarri remains unloved. Perhaps the rather chaotic first-half showing here partly explained why, given their lack of pattern or focus as Watford, slicker and stronger, threatened to run riot.
Watford struck the frame of the goal twice and spurned a host of chances and given the opportunities they created and the positive way they played it is odd that they finish this season having lost their last 11 games against the ‘Big Six’.
To be fair, and as was reflected by a venerable Chelsea panel in the tube afterwards, we started the game as unlike a side preoccupied with the Cup Final as it’s possible to imagine. We were lively, assertive and direct, pinning the home side back with some verve and energy.
We left plenty of time for our walk to Stamford Bridge and to negotiate our way past the multiple phalanxes of security guards. There was a surprise in store as we were greeted by a voice announcing, “FA Cup Finalists to the left.” I was still smiling when I heard another directing us on “The road to Wembley.” A rather lovely and unexpected welcome which meant that my opinion of Chelsea went up massively.