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Manuel Almunia and Gianfranco Zola encourage Jonathan Bond to remain patient
Jonathan Bond has showed he is ready for regular Championship football but the man in front of him, Manuel Almunia, and his head coach Gianfranco Zola have both encouraged the talented youngster to remain patient.
Bond impressed during ten appearances last season and he was arguably man-of-the-match during last week’s 2-0 victory in the League Cup as he made a string of fine saves to ensure his team progressed.
Zola has made no secret of the fact Almunia is considered his number one but the Hornets boss has been impressed by the 20-year-old.
“Today he was unbelievable,” Zola said after the win over Bournemouth. “He deserved the prize for the best man on the pitch.
“I don’t think it is a problem for Bondy. Even if he is not playing, in front of him he has a fantastic professional and Manu is doing great and he will learn more.
“The future is for him (Bond). Sometimes it is good to stay out of the team and he is intelligent enough to understand that.”
Experienced goalkeeper Almunia believes Bond “has everything to be great in football”.
Speaking earlier this summer, Almunia said: “Jonathan will be a very good goalkeeper. He only has to keep working and learning from everybody.
“Working hard every day is the most important thing because he is young, he has the quality and he has the capacity to be a great goalkeeper.
“But goalkeeping is about working and humility. If you have this then you can have success in your career. He has everything to be great in football.”
On his relationship with Bond, Almunia added: “We respect each other a lot, we make jokes and we talk a lot. I try to help him all I can.
“Not only him; everybody at the club, every young goalkeeper at Watford. If somebody asks me something then I try to help. It is free after all and I like helping.”
Almunia spent the first three years at Arsenal behind Jens Lehmann before replacing the Germany international.
The Watford number one admitted: “It is hard. It is not a good situation but time goes very quick and everybody will have their chance eventually.
“When their chance comes, everyone has to be ready. So all you can do is keep working and keep learning and when you have the chance, take it.
“When I was at Arsenal I learned a lot from Jens Lehmann. He was not an easy man to be with but I learned a lot from him in terms of attitude on the pitch and he made me learn a lot.
“If you are not playing then you need to learn from the people playing.”
Almunia turned 36 in May and signed a one-year contract with the Hornets in July.
Goalkeepers like Tottenham’s Brad Friedel, 42, and Chelsea’s Mark Schwarzer, 40, have shown you can remain at the top into your 40s.
But Almunia says he has no long-term plans regarding his future.
He explained: “It is all about how you feel. I want to keep playing and I feel very good. Then when you finish a season and feel like your speed or reaction time is slower [then you finish].
“I don’t feel like that. I did well last season so I decided to keep going.
“We will see how I get on this season before deciding whether I will keep playing next season. It depends on how you feel at the end of the season.”
The Spanish stopper continued: “I wanted to have the freedom to say I want to keep playing for one more year or one more day; that is my philosophy. I am training day by day.
“I have never said I want to play until 37 or 41; I go day by day and listen to my body and my mind and keep going.”
This article first appeared in Friday's Watford Observer.
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