Watford 1 Tottenham 1: When one thinks of managerial spats in the Premier League, it is usually Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, or Pep Guardiola, but now we have a new contest on the cards: in the blue corner, Big Sam Allardyce, the heavyweight from Dudley, against Marco Silva, the Portuguese middleweight.
Watford’s manager has not been in England a year, but is already showing his combative side by biting back at the comments Allardyce made when he was appointed Everton manager on Friday.
Silva had been in the running for the Everton job only for Watford to refuse the Goodison club permission to talk to him. When Allardyce eventually took over last week, he questioned the track record of the Portuguese, who took over at Hull City last January but failed to save them from relegation. “If you look at my track record why wouldn’t I be here, irrespective of Marco Silva?” Allardyce said. “I have every respect for Marco Silva and I am not criticising Silva but his track record has got no comparison with mine because he got Hull relegated.”
Silva could not resist the temptation to bite back after Watford held Tottenham at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
“When he (Allardyce) made this comparison it does not make sense,” he said. “It is the same thing if I compare his work with a national team coach like Gareth Southgate. It’s like me comparing the goals Richarlison scores in the Premier League to Peter Crouch. Crouch is 37, Richarlison is 20, Crouch has played so many games and Richarlison far less.
“If you want easy work, go and see what he was doing when he was 40 years old or what he was doing in his first seven seasons as a coach. Then look at what I am doing. Or wait until I am 63 and we can compare what I’ve done. That’s the best solution.”
Silva has already taken lowly Estoril from the second tier of Portuguese football into Europe, won the Portuguese Cup with Sporting and spent a record-breaking season at Olympiacos, winning his first 17 league games, a record in 21st century European football, and beat Arsenal at the Emirates in the Champions League. So he is within his rights to defend his record against Allardyce, and it is clear he has brought about a steep change at Watford, who had lost both games to Spurs by four goals last season.
This time, Watford were unlucky not to win. Christian Kabasele headed them ahead in the 13th minute before Heung-min Son equalised for Spurs, who were reduced to 10 men for most of the second half when Davinson Sanchez was sent off for putting an arm in the face of Richarlison early in the second half. Abdoulaye Doucoure beat Hugo Lloris but his effort rebounded off the post, and Richarlison was denied a penalty in the final minute when his shot was blocked by Eric Dier’s arm.
But Silva was happy enough with a point. “Watford have not beaten Tottenham in the Premier League and everyone knows the scores we had against them last season. We didn’t win but we took a point.
“It is a new era. Everything we are doing every day is different to last season. I am not saying it is better or worse. It is just our way.”
Tottenham’s miserable league form continues, picking up only five points from 18 since thrashing Liverpool 4-1 six weeks ago. But Mauricio Pochettino won’t panic, pointing out they are only two points worse off than this time last season, when they ended runners-up. They have also beaten Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to win their Champions League group with a game to spare.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to keep your level,” said Pochettino. “Man City have created a massive gap and the gap is too far to win the Premier League, but we are going to improve.”
Gomes 6; Mariappa 6, Prodl 5, Kabasele 6 (Capoue 64); Femenia 6, Pereyra 6 (Carillo 67), Doucure 7 Cleverley 7 (Gray 86) Zeegelaar 6; Richarlison 7; Deeney 6
Not used: Karnezis, Janmaat, Wague, Watson
Lloris 6; Trippier 6, Sanchez 5, Vertonghen 7 ,Davies 6; Dier 8 Dembele 7; Eriksen 6 (Sissoko 64), Alli 7 (Winks 86), Son 6 (Lamela 77); Kane 7
Not used: Vorm, Aurier, Rose, Llorente.
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