Troy Deeney is a known commodity and much has been written about him in his Watford career. Seeing him in person, however, reveals exactly why he is so valuable to Watford AND manager Walter Mazzarri, as well as why every Premier League team needs a player like him. My perspective was the manager’s one, however, as I had the privilege of sitting field level during Watford’s 2-1 victory over West Brom (more on this in another article).
The victory was a massive one for Watford, not because it vaulted them into a European space or saved them from relegation, but because it both avenged an earlier defeat and gave the Hornets confidence after a run of bad results (save Saturday’s victory). Deeney was in the starting XI after missing Saturday’s Sunderland match with an illness. Throughout the 90 minutes, he showed what makes him both beloved and valuable:
Influence with the other players: Throughout the match, Deeney was both coaching and strategizing with his teammates. Late in the match, with 10-man Watford holding a 2-0 lead but on the backfoot, Deeney called over sub Isaac Success and walked him through the Watford throw-in about to happen. He gave specific instructions as to where Success was to go and when he’d get the pass from Deeney; nevermind Deeney assumed he’d secure the throw-in! The ball came in and Success broke as Deeney explained and Watford not only held possession but earned a valuable corner. Throughout he moved players around the pitch. In addition, although I may have missed it, I never saw Deeney called over by Mazzarri for further instructions. He served as a manager on the pitch even during the nervy times.
Key plays through work-ethic: Deeney scored the much-needed second goal for Watford and if you would have compared the Hornets two goals, the competition between bets would be over quickly. M’Baye Niang’s goal was a thing of beauty while the captain’s was ugly, but Deeney’s goal came from dedication. In on the keeper and being grabbed by the defender, Deeney kept his balance just enough to poke the ball past Ben Foster before being brought down in front of goal. With all the debate about whether players should go down when fouled, Deeney showed that sometimes you need to focus on the result rather than the process.
A cool head in the midst of chaos: Paul Tierney had a poor match but even if he would have called a perfect one, he would have been bothered throughout with these two managers. Mazzarri was red-faced the entire second half and both benches had to be calmed throughout, especially after the Max Breitos red card. In this way, Deeney was a calming presence on the field. Although he was certainly animated at times with the referee, he never lost his cool. He could be seen arguing and consulting Tierney, but he was a marked contrast to the anger of his manager and staff.
Being a presence without being a physical specimen: When you watch a Premier League matchup close, you notice quickly how physically amazing the athletes are. Deeney is muscular, but compared with teammates like Niang, he is more average. Regardless, he is always the centre of attention. When Watford were pressed back, he was up top fighting with the West Brom defenders for the ball and bought his teammates breathing room.
Deeney does the little things a manager loves but you don’t notice when watching a match on television or at the pub. While he will never be as great as an Alexis Sanchez or Sergio Aguero, his importance to Watford is greater than either of those players to their team. Every manager would love to have a player of his leadership and dedication to the match as him, and you don’t truly appreciate it unless you can see him doing the little things on the pitch.