Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka was pleased with a point as he bids to keep his newly-promoted club in the top flight.
Karanka adopted a back three at Vicarage Road with Calum Chambers, the England international on loan from Arsenal, and Ben Gibson earning special praise from the Boro boss in a drab, goalless draw at Watford.
They both have a really, really good future.
“It was a good game for Calum and Gibbo because both of them are young and to play against strikers like [Abdoulaye] Doucoure, [Troy] Deeney and [Stefano] Okaka and to fight for every single ball, and every single second ball, and to have that maturity was important for both of them.
“They both have a really, really good future.”
Watford paid a glowing tribute to their former manager Graham Taylor throughout Saturday’s match with Taylor’s widow Rita among those to join in on a one-minute applause ahead of the Premier League clash.
She, along with a number of the home fans, had been reduced to tears as Taylor’s name echoed around all four corners of Vicarage Road. There was another applause in the 72nd minute. Taylor was 72 at the time of his sudden death.
A montage of Taylor’s best moments in charge of Watford - during which he took them from the Fourth Division to the top flight, and their first and only FA Cup final - were played on the big screen before the start of match.
The glorious footage was a long way from the tepid affair which followed.
Watford had the better of the match, but spurned a number of good chances. In the opening period, Etienne Capoue was guilty of failing to test Victor Valdes after he charged down a Middlesbrough clearance with nine minutes gone. Abdoulaye Doucoure’s half volley on the edge of the box was parried away by Valdes.
After the interval Stefano Okaka’s header from Capoue’s set piece was well held by Valdes before Heurelho Gomes was called into action for the first time after he saved from Fabio Da Silva. It proved to be his final contribution when he limped off shortly after the hour mark with a back problem.
Capoue’s effort shaved Valdes’ post before Doucoure headed wide from Christian Kabasale’s cross.
Tom Cleverley made his second debut for the club after the midfielder, on loan from Everton, replaced Valon Behrami with 14 minutes remaining, and he almost had an immediate effect.
The former Manchester United midfielder pounced on a loose clearance in the Boro box, but his effort came back off the post. Capoue blazed the follow-up over Valdes’ bar.
Captain Troy Deeney then had the chance to win the match in the closing minutes but his effort trickled agonisingly wide of Valdes’ post.
That would be as good as it got for the Hornets as a chorus of boos greeted the final whistle.
Watford: Gomes (Pantilimon 66), Kaboul, Prodl, Britos, Kabasele, Capoue, Behrami (Cleverley 77), Holebas (Zuniga 89), Doucoure, Deeney, Okaka. Subs Not Used: Cathcart, Sinclair, Watson, Ighalo. Booked: Okaka, Britos, Deeney.
Middlesbrough: Valdes, Bernardo, Chambers, Gibson, de Roon, Da Silva, Leadbitter, Forshaw, Friend, Negredo, Stuani (Gestede 65). Subs Not Used: Clayton, Fischer, Guzan, Downing, Fry, Traore. Booked: Da Silva.
Att: 20,659 Ref: Jonathan Moss