Watford – well below their usual standards – had no answers as Potter’s second-half substitutes Florin Andone (65) and new signing Neal Maupay (77) netted in what was a very comfortable opening day success.
If Brighton were not flawless, then Watford barely got anything right. They could not blame the swirling winds, which if anything should have played greater havoc with Brighton’s possession-based approach. After a brisk start they became maddeningly imprecise and it was no shock when they fell behind.
Watford manager Javi Gracia said: “Maybe it was a good wake-up call for the rest of the season because we have time to improve. We are disappointed today but I prefer to wait and trust that we can do better in the second game. We have time to analyse and improve. They played much better than us. And when we realised we had to play better, it was too late.”
The ground, as is becoming traditional, looks ever smarter after a summer’s work – seats in the Rookery/SEJ corner now, and big screens mounted high on the roof of the stand at each end of the pitch. New signings Sarr and “England international” Welbeck are presented to the crowd and hysterically received, the former making his way slowly across the pitch without breaking his applause to the stands. There are new montages on the screens, and then Z-Cars chimes in back in it’s traditional place and the cheer as the teams enter is peppered with grins and high fives and a particularly guttural roar. Fair play to the club for being honest and brave enough to reverse a bad decision.
The final whistle went to boos from the Watford faithful and, while the Brighton players spent some time celebrating with their fans, the Watford players disappeared pretty quickly. But, fair play to Deeney, he did his usual lap of the pitch to applaud the fans in each stand and, despite the anger and disappointment in the crowd, he was warmly applauded for it.