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Say it quietly but Watford's play-off hopes are not over
The players are not talking about it. Beppe Sannino is not talking about it. But on current form, the Hornets are an outside bet for the play-offs.
Watford are unbeaten in five matches and have kept four clean sheets in those games – winning three. They may not be the Championship’s entertainers any more but they are effective.
Making up eight points and five positions on an in-form Reading in 15 games is a difficult ask. You could even say it is unlikely. But you can’t rule it out.
“If we can keep going like this then hopefully we can reach the play-offs,” Daniel Pudil acknowledged.
However, Pudil was keen to stress: “But I don’t think the players are talking about the play-offs because it was only a few weeks ago that we were in a bad position. We just have to be calm and take it game by game.
“We have taken ten points from our last four matches [now 11 from five] so I do not think it is time to think about the play-offs. We will take it game by game and see where we are.”
Watford striker Troy Deeney added: “I don’t think that [the play-offs] ever left our train of thought. Obviously results haven’t always been ideal but we have got 16 games left (now 15) and if we can win a large percentage then we will be in and around it.
“But you can’t think come May we will be there. We will see what we do on Tuesday [at Yeovil] and on Saturday.
“We will then have a few days off to recover because it’s been a busy period. So we want six points in the next six days.”
Watford’s improvement has been built on their new-found defensive organisation and resilience.
Pudil believes it is clear to see that an Italian is in charge.
He said: “We are doing very well in this moment. Since the new manager came in we have looked much better at the back.
“That is good for the whole team and hopefully we are going to keep clean sheets often.
“I think [the improvement is because] we cover each other. When the ball is on the right side we shuffle over and are close to each other. I think that is the big difference. We are really compact and close to each other and that is why we are not conceding goals.”
“We are working a little bit more on the shape,” he added. “I think people from Italy like to work on things like this.
“They don’t like to concede goals and clean sheets are very important for them. So everyone can see we are good at the back and we are not struggling to score the goals.”
Pudil continued: “I like the job he [Sannino] has done since he came to the club. He likes to help the players and the team. Everything is going well right now and we are happy.”
On the language barrier, Pudil said: “It is difficult for him because he can’t speak English so someone has to be next to him to translate. I think he is doing a great job because he can speak a little bit of English now and he knows a few words.
“So he is doing a good job and most of us can speak Italian or understand so it has been easy to understand his message.”
Pudil has played his part in improving Watford defensively, not only on the pitch but also off it.
Daniel Tozser’s introduction in the problem position of holding midfield has been a huge success and Pudil was instrumental in helping him settle in the area.
Tozser’s family stayed with Pudil’s initially and it was the Czech international who helped his former Genk team-mate find the apartment he moved into a week after his arrival.
Pudil has introduced his good friend to Zincos in Watford town centre and his other favourite restaurants and on Saturday joked: “Now I have to show him Top Golf as well.”
“I like how he reacts to situations and we have fun together. After training our families are always together at my house or his house.”
On Tozser’s performances on the pitch, Pudil added: “He is a good player so he didn’t need many days to adapt. He came and played well straight away and has been important for us.”