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Decision not to change formation is an indication of Beppe Sannino's meticulous style
The most interesting comment made by Watford head coach Beppe Sannino after the game with Bristol City was arguably his response to the question of why he didn't change formation considering the club's injury problems at wing back. It provided real insight into the man and his coaching style.
Before Sannino's arrival in Hertfordshire, it was said the Italian was a tactician and spent a lot of time on drills on the training pitch.
With Ikechi Anya, Davide Faraoni and Daniel Pudil all out injured and Hector Bellerin ineligible, the Golden Boys were down to just one 'recognised' wing back in Marco Cassetti. The likes of Lloyd Doyley and Cristian Battocchio could have filled the wing back void but it is a position they are not used to.
So with Joel Ekstrand featuring at left back in the past and Sean Murray often playing on the left of midfield during his development as a teenager, one would understand if Sannino had opted to use 4-4-2 at Ashton Gate, rather than his favoured 3-5-2.
But when Sannino was asked whether he had considered changing systems, the 56-year-old's answer highlighted just how meticulous he is when preparing for matches.
"You will understand how I am in time," Sannino started. "I like to try things in training sessions; I don’t like to try things in matches.
"I like to give my players the right things (coaching), good stuff.
"I am waiting for a normal week – [where I have the players at the training ground] from Saturday to Saturday - and then I will have time to try different solutions."
So Sannino decided to put his faith in the somewhat square peg of Cristian Battocchio being able to fill the round hole of left wing back - and he did - rather than engineer a complete overhaul by switching formation.
The Hornets have made huge strides defensively in recent weeks but it is clear the passionate Sannino wants more from his players out of possession.
The head coach, who took the phrase suited and booted to a new level at the weekend, is extremely vocal and animated on the touchline.
He was asked whether his passion was an Italian trait at the weekend, with ex-Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio highlighted.
"No it is Sannino’s style, not Di Canio’s style," he responded.
He added: "I hope to be accepted in England, because I am like that (passionate). But I want to be myself. I have always been like that. When I am on the pitch, I am only talking to my guys."
Sannino also mentioned passion after the match; but this time it was that of the supporters.
More than 1,600 Watford fans travelled to the West Country at the weekend and, whilst the 10,165 attendance at Ashton Gate was 1,512 less than City's average in League One, Sannino was still impressed.
The combined attendance for the 29 FA Cup Third Round ties at the weekend was 548,907 - the highest average for this stage of the competition in 34 years.
Sannino said: "It (his first FA Cup experience) was fascinating. I followed this competition from Italy and to see a stadium like that for a League One team, if you compare it to Italy, with the passion and a lot of fans in the crowd, it made it an unforgettable night for me.
"Now I will get to live another night like this because of the replay but hopefully next time I will leave with a smile."
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