Watford boss Slaven Bilic saw his side brush aside Stoke (Nick Potts/PA)
02 October 2022

Slaven Bilic: Stoke thrashing a ‘dream start’ and blueprint for Watford success

02 October 2022

New Watford boss Slaven Bilic hailed his side’s emphatic 4-0 win at Stoke as a “dream start” to his Hornets tenure and the blueprint for success going forward.

Bilic is the Hornets’ ninth manager in three years last week after Rob Edwards’ sacking on the back of just one win in seven Championship games.

Ismaila Sarr, Ken Sema, Keinan Davis and Vakoun Issouf Bayo all got on the scoresheet to ensure Bilic enjoyed a flying start to his Watford reign at the bet365 Stadium.

A biggest win since February 2021, first clean sheet of the season and first away win since March were among the highlights.

Now seventh in the Championship, and with Bilic at the wheel, all eyes will be looking towards a promotion push.

“It’s the dream start,” said Bilic. “It’s a great win for us.

“It’s well deserved. A clean sheet, four goals, the strikers scoring goals. That’s what you dream of before games.

“We suffered together when needed and defended as a team.

“If you give space to our players out wide and up front [they will punish you] because they are good players.

“The group is good. We aren’t going to rave now because we won.

“This is the blueprint that we want to follow. This is the pattern.

“This is a great of example of what we should do and we should try and improve on this.

“We wanted something to build on and we showed that.”

Bilic, who led West Brom to promotion from the Championship in 2020, added: “It’s good to be back in the Championship when you are winning.

“I want us to play like that and play with confidence when we are losing games, it’s difficult.

“That’s not always easy because you have the crowd, you have the media, you have those question marks rising when you are losing.

“But that’s the goal. That’s the aim, to play confidently when we are losing.”

Alex Neil’s shaky start since switching from Sunderland to Stoke continued with now only one win from his first five games.

And the former Preston boss lamented his side’s lack of desire after going 2-0 down.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “When you lose any game in that manner it’s really disappointing and frustrating.

“The fact is in any game the pride you’ve got as an individual and the pride you’ve got as a team and pride to show for your club, you’ve got to rally, you’ve got to give it a go and you’ve got to never give in.

“I don’t think we can say that and that was certainly a bit of an eye opener for me and a big frustration.

“I think we’re playing with a lack of confidence in the first instance.

“You’ve got to build confidence and that comes from results, but you’ve got to build something to be the bedrock of that and that’s got to be resilience.

“You’ve got to have an inner pride where you’re not going to accept getting beat and you’re not going to accept not doing the basics well enough.

“You can get beat by any team if they’re better, but from the second goal onwards I thought it was the basics which let us down.”

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