This was a good win for Watford. Such was the harum-scarum nature of the closing stages, however, that a moment’s reflection was needed in order to be sure. After dominating possession and storming to a 3-0 lead with some sumptuous goals, they almost threw it away in the last 10 minutes. The final moments saw the hosts clinging on to the result, keeping the ball by the corner flag.
On a slippery pitch and near-freezing conditions, Deulofeu looked like he was on a slalom run as he waltzed past three defenders into the Cardiff penalty area and calmly placed the ball past goalkeeper Neil Etheridge to open the scoring.
There are parallels with following a football team, I think. A bit. Particularly that last point. It’s a drum I’ve banged before, no apologies for that. It’s the answer to that question we used to ask when we were in the second tier. “What’s the point of being a mid-table Premier League side?” Of being (Fulham/Stoke/West Brom/insert your choice here). No hope of challenging, limited peril until there is, then it stops. We are now that side. The side that are the go-to name for throwaway lines about mid-table irrelevance. Leicester answered that question in part of course. But there’s more to it. Being Watford (any team, but Watford more so, obviously) is great because it’s us. It’s being part of something. And being us is great wherever it is. Being good is fun. But it’s not all of it.
At the end of the match there was complete bafflement. Watford had been coasting until the first Cardiff goal, which seemed to give the visitors confidence and the home side jitters. While we weren’t exactly hanging on at the end, the memory of the last minute at Goodison Park on Monday was too fresh for me to feel comfortable until the final whistle had gone.