There is no chance of Watford ditching their commitment to attacking football if they get promoted to the Barclays Premier League, according to their longest serving player Lloyd Doyley.
Watford and Crystal Palace will compete for what has been dubbed “the biggest financial prize in football” tomorrow – a place in the Premier League.
Scepticism surrounded the Pozzo family when they took over Watford last summer, but the appointment of Gianfranco Zola as manager has eased those doubts and the Hertfordshire club are favourites for tomorrow’s £120million showdown at Wembley.
Zola wowed crowds with his silky skills during a glittering playing career and he has brought that mantra to Watford, where his team play free-flowing attacking football in a 3-5-2 system.
Wigan’s commitment to attacking football won them many friends during their time in the Premier League, but it was not enough to save them from the drop last season.
Doyley, who has been at Watford for 12 years, insists that does not mean Zola will be scared to retain his attacking philosophy next year, should his team gain promotion, though.
“I can’t see the boss doing that to be honest,” the Watford defender said.
“He likes us playing attacking football, no matter what team we play.
“We played Manchester City in the FA Cup this year and we still played three up front. We kept playing the way we wanted to play.
“The best way of defending is scoring goals and that has shown this year. We are the top scorers in the league so that’s the way we play.”
Doyley agrees that Swansea, who qualified for Europe this year after just two seasons in the top flight, have proven that playing attacking football can pay off.
“They have had a few years of building the passing system and they are now one of the best teams out there,” the 30-year-old added.
“When Arsenal play them Swansea have most of the ball. We are still a long way off that but we are progressing.”
Doyley has gained cult status at Watford thanks to his commitment to the club. The defender came through the club’s academy and has never once considered leaving during a 12-year spell at Vicarage Road.
Doyley, known as ’Lloydinho’ to Watford supporters, was in the side that gained promotion to the top flight via the play-offs in 2006.
Unlike this time around, Watford sailed through the play-offs. They swatted Palace aside 3-0 in the semi-finals before beating Leeds by the same scoreline at the Millennium Stadium.
“When we last won it we went in to the game very confident. We always knew we were going to beat Leeds, even though we lost against them a couple of times in the league,” Doyley said.
“We went in to the game on a high, we beat Palace 3-0 before. We had that belief that kept us feeling very good and strong. That will be key this time.
“We are confident in the way we play. We play quite attacking, free flowing football really. We have done it all season and that suits us.
“We have got a big pitch at Wembley, hopefully we can put on that kind of performance.”
Watford narrowly missed out on automatic promotion when they lost to Leeds on the final day of the season and they needed a dramatic 96th minute winner from Troy Deeney to overcome Leicester in the second leg of their semi-final.
To avoid being on the wrong end of an upset tomorrow they will have to keep Wilfried Zaha quiet.
The Eagles forward, who is playing his last match before leaving for Manchester United, scored twice against Brighton to send Palace through to the final, but Doyley is confident of keeping the England international quiet.
“We have (kept him quiet) twice already this year,” Doyley added.
“He is a good player, but we have got a lot of good defenders in our team.”