A sense of deja vu from the calamity of last season was present in the stands, as the players were waved off after the game with frustration and even some boo’s from sections of the Watford fans.
Despite two well taken goals from Ken Sema and the exciting Joao Pedro, it was the defensive errors which cost the Hornets the opportunity to go top of the Sky Bet Championship after Sheffield United’s draw against Luton Town. This has been the narrative for many of Watford’s games over the last few seasons, where the moments of magic produced by Watford’s attackers have been undone by school-boy errors defensively.
As well as this, it is the same players who constantly make the same mistakes and fail to learn from them. Christian Kabasele, Craig Catchart and William Troost-Ekong have all been at fault for goals this season, which is a continuation from last season and many seasons before that.
After Rob Edwards was appointed as the new Watford manager, Watford fans thought it would be a new dawn for the football club. The reality is though, a lot of what has been seen so far is a carbon copy of previous seasons, both on and off the pitch.
So, despite sitting seventh in the table after just six games, is it the time to panic for Watford fans?
Have the performances on the pitch been good enough?
When Roy Hodgson left Watford at the end of last season, it was evident that tactically, Watford would have to find a new manager and start again.
The appointment of Rob Edwards was greeted with optimism and excitement by Watford fans, with the appointment representing a change of ways from the Pozzo family. Instead of bringing in an established head coach like Hodgson or Claudio Ranieri, or someone less proven from overseas such as Xisco Munoz or Vladimir Ivic, they instead opted for a manager who is young, British and plays an attractive brand of football.
It was clear though that whoever would come in for Watford, would need time to establish themselves and their style of play. One could liken it in a way to Mikel Arteta at Arsenal or Graham Potter at Brighton who despite picking up some difficult results along the way, are now reaping the rewards of those above them trusting the process.
It may be too early to tell if Rob Edwards will enjoy as much success as those two managers, however the early signs indicate that both Watford fans and the board will have to be patient if Edwards is going to succeed at Vicarage Road.
Performances have been far from perfect, particularly in the games against West Brom and Queens Park Rangers. Watford lacked any clear style of play and some players were evidently struggling in the system. As mentioned before, some mistakes were akin to those seen last season, which was frustrating to watch for Watford fans.
There have however been some positive performances where small strides were made. Rob Edwards will be frustrated that his side did not come away with the three points in the games against Birmingham City and Preston North End. On another day, Watford would have won both of those games comfortably, however due to clear opportunities missed, the Hornets had to settle for a point.
Fans are probably frustrated due to those missed opportunities, however they do not reflect the encouraging signs shown by Watford in those matches.
So, while performances have been a mixed bag and in some cases below par, with time there is a good chance Rob Edwards will be able to stamp his own style onto his Watford side. His job will become much easier though if he is backed in the transfer market.
Has Rob Edwards been backed in the transfer market?
The short answer is no; Rob Edwards has not been backed sufficiently in the transfer market.
Other than, no money has been spent. The signings of Hamza Choudhury, Keinan Davis and Kortney Hause are good moves, however the frustration is that key areas of the pitch are yet to be addressed going into the latter stages of the window. As well as this, the signings of Rey Manaj, Mario Gaspar and Vakoun Bayo have failed to impress so far.
While some may argue that incomings would have and still depend on the outgoings of Ismaila Sarr and Joao Pedro, it is somewhat surprising that Watford still have not spent more money this window, even without selling them.
The right-wing back position has been particularly frustrating for Watford fans. After Kiko Femenia’s departure, the club signed Mario Gaspar from Villareal. However his performances have left a lot to be desired so far; he lacks pace and does not fit into Rob Edwards’ desired system.
Imran Louza will be returning from injury in the coming weeks, however the central midfield position has also been concerning. Watford have been slow at moving the ball forwards with many of the passes ending up either sideways or backwards. There is a lack of ball progression going forward and this is concerning.
It may be unlikely that another player comes in during the rest of the transfer window, with Rob Edwards telling to the Watford observer that there is ‘no guarantee’ another forward comes in; an area which he suggested he would like to strengthen in.
It will be difficult to judge Rob Edwards on the pitch if he does not have the desired players to fit into his system, which will mean that the level of performances on the pitch naturally will be lower than expected by Watford fans.
Is the frustration of some fans justified?
It is important to remember that on the pitch, the season is still in its infancy and the table is yet to really take shape.
Watford will hope to be in and around the upper end of the table and with the potential of keeping hold of Sarr and Pedro, it is likely that the Hornets will be there come the end of the season.
The frustration following the defeat to Queens Park Rangers therefore may not be a reflection on Rob Edwards and Watford’s position in the table. Rather, it is the fans’ displeasure towards the board and the recruitment so far this season which might jeopardise Watford’s chance for promotion.
Since the FA Cup final in 2019, Watford have been relegated twice. Many of the players across those relegations remain the same and are making the same mistakes. Some parts of the Watford fanbase are fed up with this and want change.
It is hard to argue that certain players are good enough at this point, after seeing the repetitive nature of their performances over the years. It is also hard to argue that the board have backed Rob Edwards sufficiently going into the final days of the transfer window. In that respect, the frustration of the fans is justified, as nothing has happened yet to change their minds.
With two big games against Middlebrough and Rotherham this week as well as the culmination of the transfer window, it is a week which could shape Watford’s season for the better or indeed, for the worst.