Watford manager Xisco Munoz says the club will begin a “new era” when they take on Wolves on Saturday in their first match since the departure of Troy Deeney.
Xisco has paid tribute to the former captain, who left Vicarage Road last month after spending 11 years with the Hornets, scoring 140 goals in 419 appearances to help the club win promotion twice from the Sky Bet Championship.
Deeney, who missed a large chunk of last season with an Achilles injury, had found his game-time with Watford limited since their top-flight return and completed a move to boyhood club Birmingham on the eve of transfer deadline day – leaving the club in amicable circumstances.
Xisco, speaking about the news for the first time, said: “It is normal when you are 11 years in one club, you have many situations and everyone wants to know about you. I tell you I have big respect for Troy, it is a new era and he is a very good person.
“This is normal in football, we have to understand it can happen with anyone. Sometimes it was Zinedine Zidane, after David Beckham and now Troy.
“This is life but all I can say is I have big respect for him, I wish all the best for him in the future and I am sure he enjoys playing football all the time now.”
When Xisco arrived at Watford in December, it was common knowledge his predecessor Vladimir Ivic had not seen eye to eye with Deeney, but the Spaniard quickly struck up a bond with the captain.
The forward was a key figure early on in his tenure before injury sidelined the 33-year-old for the last three months of the campaign.
But he remained an important presence off the pitch as the club bounced back from relegation at the first time of asking.
Xisco added: “Last season Troy helped me inside and outside the pitch, everyone knows Troy loved Watford but also I think it is important everyone understands sometimes the moment passes and right now he has taken another direction.
“I have full respect for him and our fans have full respect for him because he is a legend for our club. He always stays in our hearts, but right now is the moment to have a focus on our team and our squad.
“Again I wish all the best for him in the next team but most important is to prepare very well for our game and our fans will try help us with this.”
While Watford begin life after Deeney on Saturday at home to Wolves, a key member of their promotion-winning team could return.
Attacker Joao Pedro has returned to full fitness following a knee injury and could be in contention while summer signing Ozan Tufan trained with the club for the first time on Wednesday and may make his debut this weekend.
Back-up goalkeeper Ben Foster remains absent with a hamstring injury and Francisco Sierralta’s availability is unknown. The Chile defender was not able to link up with his country for international duty due to the UK Government’s red-list and his nation has now called on FIFA to stop the centre-back playing against Wolves.
“We are waiting to hear and after we will see what is the answer of FIFA,” Xisco admitted.
“I spoke with him about this but you know we can do nothing. Now is a moment for wait and we will see what happens. If you ask me, my opinion is to try give a fair result for all the teams because this is important.”
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