Watford boss Chris Wilder delighted with ‘front-foot performance’ in Blues win

Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by PA

Watford boss Chris Wilder delighted with ‘front-foot performance’ in Blues win

Chris Wilder was delighted that “a front-foot performance” in his first home game as Watford manager resulted in a 3-0 victory over Birmingham.

Imran Louza and Keinan Davis put the Hornets 2-0 up within 16 minutes and Blues could have been further behind by half-time after Jeremy Ngakia hit a post and Ismael Kone and Craig Cathcart both went close.

The visitors perked up in the second period but substitute Scott Hogan and Auston Trusty missed clear-cut chances and Hornets substitute Britt Assombalonga, in his second spell at the club, made sure of victory with a 73rd-minute third.

“I’m delighted for the supporters because it has been difficult for them but I sensed they enjoyed it,” said Wilder.

“The first goal is key in these games. It settled us down and the players showed they can mix it with the best in this division. At times we were hard to hold back and that’s what I’m looking for.

“It was a front-foot performance. There was a 10-minute spell just after half-time when we were on the back foot but the game should have been done and dusted at half-time. It felt like a 3-0 at half-time but it wasn’t, so we have to be humble.”

The result revived Watford hopes that they could snatch a play-off place come the end of the season.

Wilder, sacked by Middlesbrough in October, was brought in earlier this month after Slaven Bilic was fired with the Hornets sitting 10th.

They are in that position now, four points off sixth-placed Blackburn, having slipped to 11th when Wilder’s first game in charge ended in a 1-0 loss at QPR.

“Filling the box was key and getting the ball into dangerous areas was as well – certainly there wasn’t any of that on Saturday,” Wilder added. “It looked more like we want it to be so credit to the players for taking it on board.

“Definitely the message – I’m realistic as a manager and have my feet on the ground – is that we have got to replicate tonight.”

Birmingham manager John Eustace, who captained Watford as a player, made it clear he had not been impressed with his side’s limp first-half display.

“It was a really disappointing first 20 minutes – we were far too passive,” he said.

“The attitude of the boys in the second half was better and much more like us. There were a couple of chances we really should have been taking.

“It has been a problem all season – we need to be more clinical in the final third – but the most pleasing thing is that we never give up. If we had taken some of those chances the result might have been different.

“The changes were very positive and from a defensive point of view we looked much better. Watford have fantastic Premier League players and have underachieved this season, so the important thing for me was that second half.”

Blues, who had beaten Rotherham at the weekend to end a five-match winless run, remain 18th, but Blackpool’s 6-1 thrashing of QPR means they are now only seven points above the drop zone.

“We know we are in a fight down there – we have been all season,” Eustace added. “It’s important we don’t get carried away with the highs and lows and we will see where we are at the end of the season.”




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