Boss looks ahead to Watford clash
Simon Grayson told htafc.com that he is wary of the threat that Watford could pose this weekend and believes they will provide his players with their toughest test of the season so far.
Going in to the first seven games of the season Town had been underdogs, but for the first time this season it looks likely it will be favourites – a factor Simon hopes won’t affect his players.
“We have started the season very well and we should really go into every game as the underdogs because we are new to the division, but by producing the performances that we have recently the profile and expectance level of the team has raised,” said Simon.
“Despite that, the players need to carry out every instruction that they are given, like they have done for the first seven games of the season. We can’t just turn up and expect to beat Watford because of our league position; this is probably going to be our hardest game. We are probably going to be very slight favourites, but we can’t forget that they have got a lot of good international players within their squad. “
He continued: “The players have been told that they can’t let their standards slip, if anything they have to go through the roof to increase our level of performance. It is a big incentive for the players to know that they could go top with a victory. For the individuals within the team their biggest incentive is to play well and keep their shirt. They know that if they underperform then someone will take their place for the Leicester game.”
Gianfranco Zola returned to football management with Watford this summer and Grayson has great admiration for what he did as a footballer and has done as a manager.
“He was a fantastic footballer for Chelsea and the English game – and would often run rings around me!” Simon told htafc.com. “He did well in management at West Ham and has now got a new opportunity at Watford. I think it will be a little while until he gets a settled side playing the way he wants, but they have got some very good players.”
Town announced further good news this week when Alex Smithies put pen to paper to keep him at the Club until 2015.
“I think Alex is one of the best goalkeeping prospects in the country. He spent a lot of time out through injury but has come back in extremely good spirits and has worked hard to get to where he now is. We don’t want players to enter the final year of their contracts with a deal not in place, so to get Alex signed on a long term contract is fantastic. When he has been called upon this season he has kept us in games; at the moment he hasn’t been tested too much, but we know that will change as the season progresses.
“It is a big boost for Alex to make a commitment to the football club. He can see that we are progressing and being a local lad I am sure that he wants to be a part of that. Hopefully we will achieve everything that he wants to achieve in his career.”
Reflecting on the performance at Blackpool Simon was delighted with the impact former Cardiff man Anthony Gerrard had on the game, after having to bide his time to get a chance.
“I thought Anthony did everything that we brought him to the football club to do on Monday night. He was very vocal at the back and he and Clarkey (Peter Clarke) dominated in defence and when he had to but his body on the line to make blocks, he did that. The whole defence kept a rampant Blackpool team very quiet and they deserve massive credit for that. Anthony has been patient and waited for his opportunity, which he has grasped.”
To finish Simon told htafc.com that Adam Hammill is unlikely to feature as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.
“Adam will probably miss the game with his knee injury. It is nothing too major, but it is just taking a little bit longer to settle than we first thought. We have taken a couple of knocks from Blackpool, as we do with every game, but I don’t want to divulge that information.”