Watford 2018/19 Review: End of Season Report Card for the Hornets

A devastating 6-0 hammering to Manchester City in the FA Cup final meant a season full of promise ultimately ended in disappointment for Watford, but there is plenty for Hornets fans to be optimistic about as they look ahead to the future.

​Despite also ending their league season on a low with a poor 4-1 defeat at home to West Ham United they have enjoyed a strong campaign, spending the majority of their league campaign hunting down seventh spot and a place in Europe.

Troy Deeney

While they did not end up lifting their first trophy since winning the Championship play-off final in 2006, the foundations put in place this season mean they may well have the chance to earn silverware again soon.

Here’s a look back at their campaign as a whole and an overall grade for the report card.


League Performance

Premier League – 11th

Having spent so much of the season in the top half of the Premier League, a run of three defeats and a draw from their final four matches meant Watford ultimately ended up slipping outside the top 10 come the end of the campaign.

Despite that, it has still been an extremely good year for Javi Gracia’s side where they have shown real progress in the top flight.

Watford FC v West Ham United - Premier League

The Hornets ended the season on 50 points which is their highest amount in the Premier League era, finishing nine points and three places better off than last time around.

A total of 52 goals is their best since promotion from the Championship in 2015 while they also conceded fewer than the last two campaigns, having let in 59 compared to 68 and 64 previously.


Domestic Cup Performance

Carabao Cup – 3rd Round

A penalty shoot-out defeat away to Tottenham Hotspur at Stadium:MK ended Watford’s bid for a first League Cup title at the third round stage of this season’s competition.

Having comfortably beaten Reading in round two Watford seemed set to go through again as they led 1-0 going into the final 10 minutes. 

Christian Kabasele

However, a remarkable end to the game saw Hornets centre back Christian Kabasele sent off, with Dele Alli scoring the resulting penalty. Spurs then went 2-1 ahead soon after before Etienne Capoue pegged them back in the last minute, sending the game to penalties. 

Misses from Capoue and Domingos Quina ultimately ended their hopes of a place in the last 16.

FA Cup – Runners-up

​Watford’s entire campaign has come to be defined by their excellent run in the FA Cup, with the club reaching just the second final in their history. 

Despite suffering such a heavy defeat in the final, the supporters will be delighted they had two days out at Wembley and were able to add to their one and only appearance at the showpiece event from 35 years ago, when they were defeated 2-0 by Everton.

Watford’s campaign saw Woking, Newcastle UnitedQueens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace dispatched in the early rounds before one of the most incredible semi-finals of all time against Wolves.

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With Watford 2-0 down with 25 minutes to go, Gracia brought on Gerard Deulofeu and changed the course of the game completely.

Deulofeu was outstanding, scoring twice as Watford came from behind to win 3-2 after extra time.

Troy Deeney,John Ruddy

The club’s fans did not just have the former Everton and Barcelona player to thank however, with captain Troy Deeney winning and scoring a penalty in the fourth minute of added time to send the game into a final 30 minutes which would end in delirium for everyone associated with the club.

Losing to treble champions City is no disgrace although Gracia and his players will be gutted about the final result.

There is no doubt they will want to put that right as soon as possible with another tilt at the famous trophy next year.


Best Player

Following a season of such highs for the club, there is no surprise that they have a few contenders for their player of the year.

While the likes of Deulofeu, Capoue and Ben Foster have all been excellent this season once again it is Deeney who has been the club’s key man.

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He may not be as pretty on the eye as some other players in the league or even at his own club, but the Watford skipper is crucial to the way they play and they are a much worse side without him in it.

The bottle it took to slam home the last minute penalty against Wolves at Wembley says everything about his character and he is always a vital factor if they are to have a chance of winning football matches.

Troy Deeney

He makes the other members of his side play better with his leadership skills as well as the way he uses the ball and brings people into play as the team go forward.

Deeney is so important for the club both on and off the pitch and, having overcome so many troubles in his personal life, there are few who are more deserving of lifting a trophy for their side than the 30-year-old.


Worst Player

Watford haven’t had too many players who have underperformed this season but manager Gracia is allowed to expect more from forward Isaac Success, who has once again flattered to deceive in a Watford shirt.

Isaac Success

The 23-year-old has been given plenty of chances throughout the campaign, but a return of just one goal in 23 Premier League appearances is not good enough.

He has pace and power but his technique and decision making are not of the required standard and he should be moved on in the summer.


The Manager

Gracia has had an excellent campaign, proving he is the right man for the job in his first full season in charge.

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The 49-year-old was a shock replacement when the club sacked Marco Silva last January but he has been a steady influence since joining, with his summer signings being particularly impressive.

Deulofeu has responded to the faith put in him by his Spanish counterpart while the free transfer of Foster in goal was a masterstroke, the former England keeper being outstanding for most of the season.

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The board are known for their trigger-finger when it comes to managers but they may just have found the man to stay in charge at Vicarage Road for the next few years.


Overall Grade

Best league finish since promotion, highest amount of goals since promotion and they reached the FA Cup final; this has been an excellent season for Watford and, had they topped it off with victory at Wembley on Saturday, it may well have gone down as the best in the club’s history.

As it is, everyone associated with the club will have to reflect on a year of missed opportunities, but also one of real progression both on and off the pitch.

Grade: A-

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