Troy Deeney has recalled hearing Alan Smith criticise Watford before their match with Manchester City last season due to the lack of crowd noise.
The Hornets welcomed City to Vicarage Road in their penultimate game of the season, with Deeney’s side desparate for vital points in their bid to secure Premier League survival.
But the hosts were beaten 4-0 by Pep Guardiola’s men, as Raheem Sterling’s double, Phil Foden’s strike and Aymeric Laporte’s header did the damage.
And Deeney remembers his side were handed a blow even before kick-off, as the voice of Sky Sports commentator Smith could be heard as players took the knee.
The Hornets captain told The Sun: “We all took a knee, the ref blew his whistle and you could hear Alan Smith in the stands saying ‘well Watford are massively up against it today… they’ll be lucky to get away with five’.
“Cheers pal, just as you are about to play such a big game!
“That’s a funny side of it in a way, when you hear what commentators say. Normally you have to go home, watch it back and you’re like ‘What? He said THAT about me?’”
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Deeney also discussed how football has changed without supporters present in stadiums, adding: “Not having fans takes an element of sharpness away.
“If a defender is chasing a ball and the crowd are shouting ‘man on, f****** clear it!’ he is more likely to.
“If he’s left to his own devices, you start seeing people being more casual and doing things they’d try in training. There’s an element of laxness.
“Players are taking more risks going forward. When people miss now it’s like ‘OK get on with it’. Whereas if you miss and tens of thousands of people are hammering you, you’re less likely to have a go.
“It will be interesting to see how some young players, who are doing really well now, play when the fans are back. That might have a psychological effect on them.
“If a young striker at a top-six club is doing really well, if he scores 20 goals this season and he’s the man — well it’s a different game when you miss in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford. Then it’s ‘we demand you score’.
“Hopefully fans will be back, in baby steps, before long.”
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