Dawson: “You Can See The Belief Coming Back”
By Kevin Affleck
Craig Dawson encapsulated the complete turnaround in the team's fortunes with easily his best performance in a Watford shirt at Bournemouth.
The defender has taken a while to establish the sort of form that saw him called up for the Great Britain Olympic side in 2012 and made him a Premier League regular at West Bromwich Albion, but he was colossal at the Vitality Stadium, particularly in the first half. He headed everything away, made a couple of terrific interceptions on Dominic Solanke, clipped a couple of lovely passes down the line and then confirmed his rejuvenation by cushioning a pass out of the sky at the start of the second half and rolling it cooly back to Ben Foster.
He has revelled in the vibe created by Head Coach Nigel Pearson and Assistant Coach Craig Shakespeare and is loving the characteristics of this new-look side.
“That's the thing that has changed totally: the work rate,” he said on Added Time. “Everyone is working hard for each other. If someone is slightly out of position, the person next to them is helping them out. You can see that throughout the pitch. Everyone has got each other's backs and it's great to see and great to be a part of. We just need to keep the run going, keep working hard and keep winning games.”
The Hornets have won four of their last five league matches, drawing the other at Sheffield United, and there is no chance of Pearson allowing the players to think they have cracked it.
“The manager won't let that happen,” said Dawson. “If anyone's messing around in training, he won't let that happen. If he's talking, everybody is listening, everyone's eyes are focussed and it's great to see that concentration and belief in the changing room. He has been excellent on the training ground. You can see the belief coming back and see the players enjoy the game. It's great to be a part of.”
You could see how much Dawson enjoyed the win at Bournemouth by the way he leapt on Troy Deeney's back after the captain slammed in the crucial second goal.
“It was a great result,” said the 29-year-old. “You could see how hard the lads worked during the game. It was great to get the three goals and a clean sheet as well. As a defence it's great to get a clean sheet but it's not just about the defence – it's about the whole team. You can see how hard Troy worked up there.”
The magnificent fans fed off what the players did and there were some joyous scenes in front of the away end at full-time.
“The fans were great,” said Dawson. “It's been a tough start to the season and now we are seeing them come out [and enjoy themselves]. It's exciting times. We don't want to get carried away. We need to keep working hard and hopefully have more days like today.”