It now looks increasingly likely that Watford will be forced to try and secure their place in the Premier League next season via the Championship play-offs which is always going to be a lottery.
It would be a travesty for the side were they not to get promoted because they have played some of the best football in the Championship this season, with a manager in Gianfranco Zola who seems destined to be a boss at the top level.
Watford have been going through a rough spell which has seen them slip into the play-off places now six points behind Hull City with just four matches of the season remaining.
There could be a very simple reason for their lack of form lately; three defeats and three draws since the start of March and that could be that teams have simply found an effective way of playing against them.
Watford have based a lot of their football this season around the pace and movement of their attacking players and they just seem to have run out of steam when the opposition has found a way to contain this.
However, Watford should have faith in their boss heading into the play-offs because Zola is a better manager than many will give him credit for and he will find a way for the team to reinvent himself.
Expect to see some different tactics once the chance of automatic promotion is out of the equation because if Watford can find a way to introduce some slight changes into their side, they could be unstoppable over the course of two play-off matches and a final.
They don’t have to do too much tweaking because the side has an attack which has produced 36 goals at home, the same as Cardiff City, and has scored ten more goals away from home (42) than the closest challengers (32).
It’s all about having a plan b for Watford because if they are in the play-offs they are going to go into the first game under a lot of pressure and should expect to see everything which is resilient about the current side and some typically Italian defending urged by their manager.
However, the second leg at home is where they can really cut loose their attacking players with different tactics, different ideas and different attacking tendencies which sides in the Championship haven’t seen before.
Watford can blow most teams out of the water so all they need to gain promotion through the play-offs is a solid defence, consistency from their best attacking players and a plan b if things don’t start to go their way.
That’s the difference because if they start to believe they’re in a rut of that they’ve been found out, all of the hard work this season will go out of the window quickly.
Can Watford go up?
image: © joncandy