Fan View: 'Gracia must ensure Watford don't fade away'

30th Dec 2018

Watford ended the calendar year with a disappointing performance in their 1-1 home draw against Newcastle United.

The Hornets were sluggish throughout the contest and six changes by Javi Gracia certainly did not aid them as they fell behind to Salomon Rondon’s first-half header.

Abdoulaye Doucoure was brought off the bench and the midfielder headed in an equaliser in the 82nd minute but Watford could not find a winner.

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The Hornets had 63 per cent possession but struggled to break down a stubborn Newcastle side. Everyone knew the way Rafa Benitez would set up his side but Watford’s lack of creativity was frustrating.

Despite being held at home for the first time this season, Watford actually moved up to ninth in the Premier League table.

Most fans would have happily taken this at the start of the season so there should be no excessive reactions to a below par display at Vicarage Road.

What would count as success this season?

It has been a record-breaking campaign so far with Watford making their best start to a top-flight campaign.

But the Hornets have made a habit of falling away after Christmas in previous seasons and it is important Gracia ensures this time is different.

There is no reason why Watford cannot finish in the top half of the table this season although their form recently has dipped.

Nine points from their last 10 games does not compare favourably with 19 from the opening 10 fixtures so the warning signs are there.

Nevertheless, Watford have shown in their victories over the likes of Tottenham and West Ham they have the ability to mix it with the better teams.

Finishing in the top 10 has to be the aim and is certainly not unrealistic although Gracia needs to make sure the players do not get complacent and switch off with safety looking secure.

Alongside finishing strongly in the league, a run in the FA Cup has to be the aim. Gracia looks bound to change his side for next weekend’s third round tie at Woking and it will probably still be enough to progress.

But he needs to select his best side in future rounds if he is serious about a run in the competition.

Reaching the semi-finals in 2016 was a huge lift for the fans and, with no danger of a relegation battle, Watford should throw everything into achieving an extended run in the FA Cup.

January transfer priorities

Keeping hold of Doucoure will be a priority although it seems inevitable the French midfielder will depart over the next year with Paris Saint-Germain firming up their interest in him.

Watford are unlikely to be overly active in the January transfer window, with only a couple of additions anticipated.

Gracia should be looking for a striker because Troy Deeney is not getting any younger and it increasingly looks like his best days are behind him.

Isaac Success is extremely raw and inconsistent while his finishing is currently not good enough at this level.

The supply line is strong with Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra impressing but Watford still need to find a natural goalscorer to lead the line. 

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