After their season of manager roulette ended with ignominious relegation from the Premier League, here was a hint of stability – even positivity – for Watford

It’s early days of course and the remaining weeks of the transfer window will bring further upheaval, but Watford proved just about superior to a Middlesbrough team who you sense would be Read Alot more than content with mid-table anonymity.

Back under Zidane in 2019 it was never going to work for James. Now for the third time in his career, Ancelotti is back in charge. This time it ought to last longer than two months and the Italian coach ought to have the freedom to put Rodriguez centre stage.

The likes of Troy Deeney, Danny Welbeck, Ismaila Sarr and Will Hughes were among a raft of players absent here through a combination of injury, lack of match fitness or simply sitting in the departure lounge waiting for a move before the window shuts next month.

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‘He kept asking me “When are you coming? We NEED you here”‘:… ‘We have this desire to reach Europe next year’: Carlo… Tottenham’s request to have 8,000 fans in stadium for… ‘Six years ago I had something good… I hope being here…

Tottenham’s request to have 8,000 fans in stadium for… ‘Six years ago I had something good… I hope being here… Everton submit amendment to planning application for… Everton ‘signed James Rodriguez for FREE’ after Real Madrid…

‘He scores as if you were writing a textbook’: Rio Ferdinand… ‘It would be ridiculous to suggest there would not be a… ‘I still think he’s got a lot to prove’: Gary Neville says… ‘If I was him, I would make the same decision’: Gareth…

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Manchester United target Sergio Reguilon ‘prefers a return… Manchester United’s chase of Sergio Reguilon hits a bump… Manchester United ‘may have to settle for Sergio Reguilon… Manchester United ‘set to move for Real Madrid left back…

It worked at first but the physical demands of tracking back for Ronaldo were huge and he faded as the season fizzled out and Ancelotti was sacked. With no break in the summer because of the 2015 Copa America he went into his second season unfit and under the orders of new coach Rafa Benitez. 

‘He kept asking me “When are you coming? We NEED you here”‘:… ‘We have this desire to reach Europe next year’: Carlo… Tottenham’s request to have 8,000 fans in stadium for… ‘Six years ago I had something good… I hope being here…

In a 1-0 home defeat to Atletico Madrid in February 2016, James was whistled by Madrid fans and hooked by Zidane before the hour mark just minutes after the winning goal. Post-match analysis honed in on his lack of intensity — Zidane never properly trusted him again.

‘He scores as if you were writing a textbook’: Rio Ferdinand… ‘It would be ridiculous to suggest there would not be a… ‘I still think he’s got a lot to prove’: Gary Neville says… ‘If I was him, I would make the same decision’: Gareth…

Watford were the more vibrant side before half-time before retreating after the break.
Middlesbrough saw chances come and go, with Britt Assombalonga their most dangerous player, but Watford showed a resoluteness often missing last season.

The Old Trafford legend told Sky Sports: ‘The idea that Dean Henderson would come into Manchester United and replace David de Gea as No 1 goalkeeper straight away… it won’t happen, I can guarantee it won’t happen.

The challenge this year is to show they can be taken seriously again and Ancelotti believes that adding Rodriguez from Madrid, Allan from Napoli and Doucoure from Watford will be crucial to making significant steps forward. He is not looking to make excuses.

10:08

Brendan Rodgers urges Leicester to splash the cash

Brendan Rodgers has urged Leicester to sign better players to have a chance of improving on last season’s fifth-placed finish.

‘The period between Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar we had Ricardo, Fabien Barthez, Mark Bosnich, Roy Carroll, Tim Howard, Massimo Taibi, many goalkeepers over a five to six-year period and there was inconsistency that certainly didn’t help.’

The addition of James Rodriguez, the Colombia superstar with whom Ancelotti has worked at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, plus the arrivals of Brazil midfielder Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure, did not come cheap but they were his prime targets for the window.

Gattuso insists Napoli will not be bullied into selling Koulibaly

Gattuso’s defiant comments come after Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis admitted the centre-back and team-mate Arkadisuz Milik could well leave the club this summer.

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