First Team 1 month ago

Quin On Mullins & Stack: “I’m Delighted For Them”

By Kevin Affleck

Watford's Academy chiefs have expressed their delight at the news Hayden Mullins and Graham Stack have been chosen to lead the team against Leicester City tomorrow night.

Mullins, 40, and Stack, 38, were asked to prepare the team for the game at the King Power on the back of their work with the club's table-topping Under-23 side and on the strength of their rich playing careers. Former Crystal Palace, West Ham and Portsmouth midfielder Mullins played more than 600 times in the top two tiers of the English game while Stack had spells at Arsenal, Leeds, Wolves and Millwall.

“I'm delighted for them,” said Barry Quin, the Head of the Academy. “It shows the strength and depth of the coaching staff at the PDP end of the Academy and where we are going. I've been there [as a caretaker] so I know what Hayden will be going through and I just hope he enjoys it. It will be a terrific experience for him.

“Hayden will have the respect of the players as he is a good club man, played at the top level and is an excellent coach. Stacky is exactly the sort of person you want around the place and is a damn good coach.”

Academy Manager Richard Thomas believes the pair could lift spirits and help restore smiles to faces amid this difficult run.

“It's brilliant,” said Thomas. “They are exactly what the lads might need right now. Stacky is 100 miles an hour and will put smiles on people's faces and Hayden is calm. That balance will be good for the players. They can take the pressure off the players and do the little things that can help in this sort of situation.”

Thomas arrived towards the back end of last season and has worked with Quin to help drive the Under-18s and Under-23s to the top of the league, supply players regularly for first-team training and now the promotion of two of their coaches.

“It says lot about what we've got in the building and also what was put in place before I arrived,” said Thomas. “We just need to add to that, build on it and continue this really positive period for the Academy.”

Under-23's 1 month ago

Thomas On U23s: “We’re In A Good Position”

By Kevin Affleck

Academy Manager Richard Thomas believes the club's Under-23 team are in a strong position to still qualify from their Premier League Cup group.

The Hornets went down to a harsh 3-0 defeat to Everton at Southport FC last night and dropped down to third in the group behind leaders Fulham and the Toffees. However, they have home games to come across those two Cat 1 sides and Plymouth in the New Year, leaving everything very much all to play for.

“We are in a good position and have all home games to come,” said Thomas, who took the team along with Head of Academy Barry Quin. “Having felt out Everton and seen what they've got, it will be interesting to get them back at our place and see what we can do in that fixture when we have everyone available. They had a lot of players who won the league and the cup last year so it was good for our players to have that experience and feel the pace of it. They gave a really good account of themselves. I'm pleased.”

The performance was remarkable considering top-scorer Joseph Hungbo, Bayli Spencer-Adams, Cameron Green, Mason Barrett, Callum Whelan and Adam Parkes were unavailable because they trained with the first team while Sam Dalby was injured.

“There has been lots going on but we've worked in football long enough to cope,” said Thomas. “You've just got to roll with it and not panic. We could have obliterated the Under-18s team [ahead of their FA Youth Cup tie tomorrow] and taken a few of those lads to get a bit closer tonight. But we decided to go with one fit player on the bench and involve two players (Thomas Horsewood and Imaad Sanko) who are going to play in the FA Youth Cup tie against Fleetwood, which us not the ideal way to prepare for an Under-23s game, but it's something you have to deal with.”

Still, the Hornets had a right good go against David Unsworth's side and made most of the running, creating the better of the chances but were sunk by three goals in the second half, including a cracking free-kick from Antony Evans.

“No, it wasn't a fair reflection,” said Thomas. “I know only one stat counts, and that's the score, but we dominated for long periods. We had most of the play and had a lot of possession in their half, but we got hurt by some mistakes. I'm disappointed for the lads as they didn't deserve to come away with a 3-0 defeat.

“A number of them did really well. We executed some nice link-up play around the box and I thought the ‘keeper made some very good saves. We retained possession well and recycled it. There weren't many who didn't contribute to a very strong performance.”

HORNETS: White; Balogun (C), Trialist, Hudson, Gordon; Wise, Sankoh (Horsewood 62); Adebiyi, Bennetts, Hines; Cassidy.

Sub not used: Hoskins (GK).