Troy Deeney is always honest and outspoken; even when it comes to his own form. Watford’s top scorer accepts he was “trying to be a player” during a bad run of form earlier this season but believes he is now back to the old “big physical me now”.
Deeney has scored 14 goals already this season but at times has found it difficult to make an impact in a Watford team who have struggled to create chances.
Last season the 25-year-old was part of a potent Hornets strike force who scored 50 goals between the three of them, with Matej Vydra netting 22 and Fernando Forestieri another eight.
However, goals have been harder to come by for the Hornets this campaign and they have only scored 44 compared to 60 at this stage of last season.
Deeney was asked if he was pleased with his own form after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.
“Yes and no,” he replied. “I started off well but then went through a bad patch. It’s starting to level out again now but I’m more interested in the performances.
“The goals are nice but I am starting to get back to the big physical me now and not trying to be ‘a player’, shall we say.”
This season Deeney has come under more scrutiny from sections of the fans and media.
But he accepts: “That is part and parcel of being the main man that people look to for goals. If the team isn’t scoring then that’s my fault and if the team isn’t winning that’s my fault because I’m not scoring.
“If the team is winning, it’s also my fault. You’ve got to take the bad with the smooth but I’m not really bothered what people say. As long as my performances are getting the respect of the players and manager then everyone else doesn’t really matter to be honest.
“They [the squad and Sannino] are the people I work with every day and see every day and I have their respect. So if they rate me then I am doing my job.” Deeney was once again captain at the weekend in the absence of Manuel Almunia. It is a role he relishes and one he appreciates.
He said: “It is a massive responsibility not just for the day. You have thousands of people who attend and you are representing the club and leading from the front.
“The boss has seen something in training or how I carry myself that he likes so it is a nice honour. I don’t like losing so being captain means I made sure we didn’t lose [against Middlesbrough].”
Like his own form, Deeney also accepts Watford have not been firing on all cylinders this season despite a five-game unbeaten run.
“Let’s not go and say it was the complete performance, we haven’t had one of those yet,” Deeney admitted.
“I don’t think we have had a complete performance across 90 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very difficult to press and do what he wants us to do for 90 minutes.
“We have been doing it for 60 or 70 minutes and then have fallen away and made silly errors.
“We want to get that complete performance. If you can do it for 80 or 85 minutes and end up two or three goals ahead then you more or less see the job through.”
Deeney rejected the suggestion that Watford’s more defensive approach in recent months is because they have an Italian head coach.
The striker was also keen to stress that the team remain in a “transitional period”.
He said: “Gianfranco Zola was Italian so it is just his [Sannino’s] personal preference not to concede many goals and then hit the opposition on the counter attack.
“We need that mix a little bit as we are dropping a bit too much and taking his words too literally.
“I know he wants us to drop deep but that doesn’t mean we don’t come forward at all. We are in a transitional period at the moment, we held out today [against Middlesbrough] but against Leicester we didn’t.”
He continued: “We had a whole 18 months and pre-season designed on being attacking. The manager has been here two months and you can’t change 18 month’s work that quickly, it’s impossible.
“He is trying to though and the lads are really responding. We are showing good signs but there is still a long way to go.”
The head coach is an animated character on the sidelines and his passion is clear to see.
Deeney confirmed Sannino has been known to lose his temper at times but he is far from erratic.
Deeney said: “He is very respectful but at the same time you don’t want to cross him. You can have a laugh and a joke but when it is work time, it is work time.
“For me that is perfect because you can be complacent and start games sloppily. If you do that then you can be 2-0 down before you know it and then have to go all-out attack. But he has come in and gives you a kick up the backside before you go out.”
He added: “Despite the language barrier, you know when someone is shouting in a nice way or if someone is shouting in a bad way. When the boss goes off on one you know you’re in trouble.
“But he doesn’t go off on one for any reason, you will know what you’ve done. He could’ve gone off after the first half [against Boro] but was really reserved and said what needed to change.”