05 August 2023

Valerien Ismael takes ‘perfect first step’ as Watford thrash QPR

05 August 2023

Watford boss Valerien Ismael hailed his players as they got his Vicarage Road reign off to a rip-roaring start with a 4-0 win against a hapless QPR side.

All of the goals came in a scintillating first-half display that saw the Hornets take the lead after just 33 seconds through Tom Dele-Bashiru.

The impressive Imran Louza, Matthias Martins and Vakoun Bayo also profited from some dismal defending from the shell-shocked visitors to find the net in a scoreline that could have been much more emphatic.

Former Barnsley and West Brom manager Ismael is the 19th permanent managerial appointment since 2012 and he could not have asked for a better introduction to his new club as Watford delivered a superb performance with Louza the architect for much of their good play.

“I knew the guys were ready, we worked hard for seven weeks so they gave us the feeling they were ready for the competition,” Ismael said.

“I told them just to get their rewards, to put their attitude and intensity in the game.

“It was a perfect start for everyone, not about the result but more about the attitude to get the reward after seven weeks of hard work.

”The combination for the goals, we’ve worked on it for seven weeks, the positioning of the players, we attack together and defend together.

“It was the perfect first step but nothing more.

“But the way we scored the goals, the combinations, the positioning from the players, it was all very pleasing.”

Louza set up the opener with a sublime reverse pass for Dele-Bashiru and added the second with a fine curling finish from the edge of the box that found the bottom right corner of Asmir Begovic’s net.

Ismael said the Morocco international, who missed the World Cup due to a serious ankle injury, has benefitted from a full pre-season and is looking forward to working with him.

“A lot of players played at a high level but for Imran it was good after last season to have a good pre-season,” he said.

“He made every session and you can see straight away the difference, because when you are confident in your body you can show your quality.”

QPR boss Gareth Ainsworth admitted he has his work cut out to keep the club in the Championship with little money available to him to spend due to Financial Fair Play regulations.

Without first-choice centre-backs Jake Clarke-Salter and Jimmy Dunne due to injury, debutants Joe Gubbins and Morgan Fox struggled to contain the Hornets.

However, Ainsworth insists he will keep the club up.

“I am not happy, we were behind after the first minute and sometimes you have to hold hands up and say you weren’t good enough,” he said.

“We were not ready for that first half from Watford and we were torn apart at times.

“I thought we looked a lot better in the second half but on the day Watford were much better than us.

“We win and lose as a team, there is no finger pointing from me, it is down to me as the manager to put it right.

“We are favourites for the bottom of the league, but we will be better than we were last season where we scrapped it to stay up.”

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