They played Al Wilson’s 1968 hit The Snake at Vicarage Road, just before Rocket Man by Elton John and the Z-Cars theme both Watford and Everton use to signal their imminent arrival on the pitch.
Marco Silva knew it was no coincidence, not with the inflatable serpents also bobbing around in various parts of a ground where he once sat in the home dugout. And after Andre Gray, one of his early signings as Watford manager, had scored the game’s only goal, the Everton manager conceded the stoking up of a hostile atmosphere had been a clever ploy by his previous employers, who obviously no longer have him on their Christmas card list.
“For sure it was not a players’ strategy or a manager’s strategy – it was something more than that,” he said. “It is a good strategy when you create something for everyone to all go in one way.”
Ask any Watford fan for a potted history of his short but controversial time at Watford and you are likely to get something like this: Silva arrives, Watford start the season brightly; Everton realise they like him, Watford realise the feeling is mutual, but refuse to let him go; Watford’s form slumps, Silva is sacked.
Ditties about treacherous snakes were not the only musical offerings on an afternoon when Everton hit the woodwork twice and missed two late sitters.
Watford fans belted out the traditional refrain of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” after Gray’s 65th-minute strike, which came from a corner Everton were so adamant should not have been awarded that referee Lee Probert sent off defender Kurt Zouma after the final whistle for his complaints.