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Everton vs Watford: The Opposition View

We spoke to Hornets podcaster Mike Parkin prior to Monday's Goodison clash

Everton v Watford - Premier League
Leighton Baines’ injury-time penalty sealed a 3-2 win for Everton in this fixture last season
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton boss Marco Silva faces former employers Watford FC for the first time on Monday night when the Hornets visit Goodison Park.

Silva moved to Vicarage Road in May 2017 after leaving relegated Hull City, and after an excellent start to the season which saw them reach the top four last October.

The Portuguese manager was one of Everton owner Farhad Moshiri’s top targets to replace Ronald Koeman last season, but this speculation seemed to affect Silva and Watford tailed off terribly before his sacking in January.

His replacement, Javi Gracia, presided over an unspectacular finish to last campaign as Watford ended up 14th, but his side took maximum points from the first four games of this season.

They have won just two of their last ten games, though; their last victory came in late October, and they are currently 13th.

Ahead of Monday’s match, we spoke to co-presenter of the award-winning Watford podcast From The Rookery End, Mike Parkin:

RBM: Firstly, what is the general consensus among Watford fans about Marco Silva? What sort of reception will he get on Monday?

Mike: Watford supporters lost all respect for Marco Silva during his protracted dalliance with Everton. After an excellent start with Watford he effectively downed tools after the approach came in from Goodison. His actions and behaviour were as disappointing as they were unprofessional and I suspect Silva himself regrets the way in which he handled the whole affair.

Watford supporters are realistic; we understand that players and staff will move on if interest comes from attractive clubs elsewhere, but for Silva to turn his back on Vicarage Road after such a short period of time showed a lack of respect for the club as well as, in my opinion, a lack of belief in his own ability. If he was confident in himself he’d have been happy to complete a good season with Watford and then take his pick of the job offers. He didn’t, instead choosing to cash in at the first available opportunity.

There’s no denying he initially had Watford playing some great stuff, but that form evaporated as quickly as Silva’s commitment to the Hornets. Suffice to say, he’s not on many Christmas lists in Hertfordshire.

Everton v Watford - Premier League
Marco Silva was Watford manager in their defeat at Goodison Park last November
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

RBM: Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, have garnered a reputation for hiring and firing since their takeover in June 2012. With manager Javi Gracia’s new four-and-a-half year deal, does there finally feel more of a sense of stability at Watford?

Mike: There has been a high turnover of head coaches at Watford but this shouldn’t detract from the fact that the club has actually been becoming increasingly stable.

The infrastructure, stadium and squad has improved incrementally since the Pozzo takeover, with the owners taking the club from the brink of administration to the Premier League in a very short space of time. You won’t find many Watford supporters with anything approaching a bad word to say about the owners.

RBM: Watford signed former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu in the summer, a clearly talented player but one who often flattered to deceive, had a questionable work rate and who tired extremely quickly while with the Blues.

Have you shared these frustrations during his time at Vicarage Road?

Mike: Watford supporters understand why a player like Deulofeu is at Vicarage Road and not the Camp Nou. He is, as you say, a supremely talented player whose career is yet to hit the heights it could. He has been a joy to watch and while there have been no issues with his work rate or commitment, his finishing has been a cause for concern. The Hornets have been guilty of being far too profligate in front of goal, with Deulofeu one of the most guilty parties.

He has probably suffered from playing as a central attacker, with many fans feeling his best position is out wide. He’ll no doubt feel he has a point to prove at Goodison so it will be fascinating to see how he performs against Everton this time round.

RBM: Everton signed fellow wide man Richarlison from Watford in July, and has already bettered his goal tally last season. From what you saw of him with the Hornets, are you surprised at his success with the Blues so far?

Mike: No. Richarlison is a genuine superstar. I fully expect him to be successful enough to ensure that Everton end up paying the full £50 million transfer fee, but also expect the Toffees to make a considerable profit when he inevitably moves on. If he can stay focused, I firmly believe Richarlison can go on to be one of the biggest names in world football.

His form tailed off at Vicarage Road but it was an absolute privilege to see him in a Watford shirt when he was firing on all cylinders. He’s some player and I’m sure that most, if not all Watford supporters wish him nothing but success.

Everton v Watford - Premier League
Richarlison scored against Everton for Watford last season
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

RBM: Everton have also been linked with Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré, but the Blues’ current midfield trio of Idrissa Gueye, André Gomes and Gylfi Sigurðsson have all enjoyed excellent seasons so far. Is Doucouré good enough to dislodge one of them, and can you see this deal happening in January?

Mike: Doucouré undoubtedly has the potential to be a top-four player; on his day he is unplayable in the centre of the park. I don’t think the current Everton midfield should lose any sleep over him, though, as there is more chance of me signing for the blues than there is of Doucouré being sold to Everton!

RBM: Watford managed more points in their first four league games than they have in the last 11. What do you put this loss of form down to, and how far away are they from challenging for the Europa League places?

Mike: I don’t think Europe is on anyone’s mind at this stage. While the performances have been pretty good throughout, Watford’s failure to take their chances has seen them tumble down the table in alarming fashion. The first goal has to be to arrest that slide and to regain that winning touch. As we all know, that’s easier said than done in the Premier League.

I don’t think wholesale changes are needed; the performances have been consistently fine, but the Hornets simply have to start taking their chances if they aren’t to get dragged into a relegation battle.

Watford FC v Manchester City - Premier League
Watford’s most recent loss came at home to Manchester City on Tuesday night
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

RBM: How do you expect Watford to set up on Monday?

Mike: The biggest question will be up top. I think Gracia is struggling to work out what his ideal striking setup is having abandoned the early season partnership of Troy Deeney and Andre Gray.

Isaac Success has been starting as the lone striker (supported by Deulofeu) away from home and I suspect that he may go down this route at Goodison.

RBM: Who do you think could cause Everton the most problems?

Mike: Roberto Pereyra has lost a bit of form recently but he remains a huge threat. He has been resurgent under Gracia, earning a recall to the Argentina side, and if Watford are to get anything from this game, Pereyra will be instrumental.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Monday’s game?

Mike: It’s hard to be too optimistic considering Watford’s form and I can’t imagine too many coupons will feature anything other than a home win.

That said, the players will be aware of the sub-plot surrounding this game and will be keen to make a statement, especially considering last season’s Goodison horror show. I’m going to ignore my head and go with my heart and say an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Our thanks to Mike for his time.