Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watford Reach Promised Land; Promotion Gives Self-Assured Boss Boothroyd the Chance to Pit His Wits against the Premiership's Special One

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watford Reach Promised Land; Promotion Gives Self-Assured Boss Boothroyd the Chance to Pit His Wits against the Premiership's Special One

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON JOHNSON

Leeds Utd 0 Watford 3

FOURTEEN months ago Aidy Boothroyd was picking up bibs for a living but, after miraculously guiding Watford into the Premiership, he can't wait to pick holes in the Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United defences.

The 35-year-old will become the youngest manager in the top flight and may also challenge Jose Mourinho as the most confident. Even before the Championship playoff final began he was convinced Watford would beat Leeds, the club where he served as a coach under Kevin Blackwell before leaving to take charge at Vicarage Road.

Leeds had tradition, size, support, experience and a more expensive squad on their side and yet Watford's superiority rarely looked in doubt. The emphasis on a team ethic rather than star players, something straight out of the Mourinho manual, came out on top and Watford chairman Graham Simpson feels there is now a second 'special one' in the Premiership.

Simpson said: "When we interviewed Aidy 14 months ago, we believed we had found someone very special. I don't know Jose personally, but there are certain characteristics in Aidy that are similar and he is a winner.

"Aidy is also a disciplinarian and a great motivator of players. Most of the Chelsea players love Jose and it is the same with Aidy at Watford. He creates an ethos of mutual respect."

For a club that was on the verge of bankruptcy only four years ago, the prospect of moving to the Premiership millionaires rowshould fill them with a sense of fear. Particularly as last time they reached such heights, in the 1999/2000 season, Watford were relegated with just 24 points - the record until Sunderland eclipsed that mark this year.

But Boothroyd is convinced his side will stay up and, as this is a manager who told his board at the start of the season that Watford would win promotion via the playoffs, fans should be able to take comfort from his optimism.

He said: "I'm looking forward to being up against Jose, Sir Alex Ferguson and so on. I want to be tested against the best.

"I know we're going to be favourites to go down, but that's okay - we won't go down. If I started to think about that, that's what would happen; it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"The best way to sum it all up is to say we are now a model for other clubs that don't have a great deal of money. With good organisation, preparation, a fantastic work ethic, a real hunger and a nofear attitude, anything is possible.

"I want to build something at Watford. I want us to have the best academy in the world, to bring youth through and I want the club to grow.

"I will have money to spend, but I am going to be very prudent. I'm not into getting big names because it's sexy. I'm into hard work, preparation, belief and hunger. …

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