Wednesday 20 November 2019

Zola looking to downplay expectations after Watford get off mark

Nigel Whittaker

In a season of high hopes fuelled by Watford's exotic new owners and playing staff, new manager Gianfranco Zola is keen to downplay expectations.

The former West Ham manager began life in the Championship with a 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"I'm learning a lot from my players from this division," said the Italian, who was appointed when the Pozzo family took over the club in the summer.

"How far we can go is difficult to say. The type of football we need to play is expansive so the players need to be in top condition. Give me time."

Steve Kean remains confident that his Blackburn Rovers side can return to the Premier League at the first attempt, despite Rovers being held to a 1-1 draw at Ipswich Town.

"We feel we've got a really good, competitive squad and that we're good enough to bounce back at the first attempt," he said.

Debutant Colin Kazim-Richards had given Rovers the lead at Portman Road with a headed goal but, with less than 10 minutes to play, Paul Robinson was unable to prevent Jason Lowe's touch from crossing his goal-line for the equaliser.

Kean remained in positive mood after the final whistle: "This is the first point on the board at a difficult venue, so I've got to be pleased." Blackburn's next chance to record a first victory is against Hull on Wednesday.

puffed

Owen Coyle highlighted a lack of attacking threat as the reason for Bolton Wanderers' 2-0 defeat at Burnley.

"We huffed and puffed without really imposing and I think we had one cleared off the line from Zat Knight at a corner," he said.

"We certainly didn't create the goalscoring opportunities that I would have wanted."

Bolton's next game is at home to Nigel Clough's Derby County, who threw away a two-goal lead against Sheffield Wednesday to draw 2-2.

Elsewhere, new Wolves manager Stale Solbakke is seeking to change the mentality among his team after a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Leeds United.

"We are trying to find a winning formula," he said. "The only way to change is to win that first game and get that winning feeling."

Luciano Becchio scored the only goal of the game to give Neil Warnock's side the victory.

"Now we have two home games and maybe we can get it (the mentality) then," Solbakken continued, ahead of tomorrow night's visit of Barnsley, who started with a 1-0 win over their Yorkshire rivals Middlesbrough.

The only negative for Warnock was the sight of Irish international Paul Green going off injured at half-time, with his departure paving the way for striker El-Hadji Diouf to make a league debut for his 10th club.

Irish Independent

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