The Nigeria international has found renewed vigour since getting back into the first-team picture at Vicarage Road
Super Eagles skipper William Troost Ekong has hailed Croatian manager Slaven Bilic for his impact since becoming the boss at Watford FC.
Troost-Ekong was a perpetual bench warmer at Watford under head coach Robert Edwards until Slaven Bilic
took over October.
The arrival of former Croatian international Bilic has seen Troost-Ekong become a regular for Hornets.
And the Nigeria international credits the 1998 FIFA World Cup bronze medalist for the noticeable improvements in the Watford backline.
“As a defender, he talks to me a lot and he makes it clear how he wants us to play,” Troost-Ekong said (via Watford Observer).
“He likes us to carry the ball, try to pass forward more and take on responsibility.
“He likes us to dominate the striker we’re marking, get the ball and then be confident with it. He gives us licence to play and I think we have grown a lot when we are in possession.
“The job of us at the back is to try and get the ball and then serve it to the real ball players in midfield and attack.
“That style of carrying the ball did take time to get used to, but now we’re accustomed to it. You’ll see that when we receive the ball, the midfielders and strikers are trying to create space and give us an angle to move the ball.
“The most frustrating thing if you’re a defender on the ball is not having a next pass available, and you have to start dribbling or taking risks that you don’t want to.
“I think the boys up the pitch are doing well to get into positions to take a pass. When you look up and you’ve got three options, our job is then to pick the best one.”
Secret to a winning Watford?
Watford won only three out of the ten matches played before Bilic.
The Golden Boys have, however, claimed victories in six of the ten with Bilic in charge. Four of those wins have come in the Hornets’ last five games.
Troost-Ekong is pleased that the results and performances are following the manager’s style of football.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of him (Bilic) is his experience,” said Troost-Ekong.
“All of us probably knew that before he came in, but now we’ve worked with him we’ve all seen it in action.
“I think he’s probably what we needed at this moment in time. He doesn’t try to do anything over the top or reinvent the game of football. He knows what has worked for him, and he looks at our team and tries to put everyone in their best position.
“He’s made performing well a lot easier, and there’s less confusion and more clarity. We believe in his playing style and we’re seeing the result of that on the pitch.”
Following their recent surge up the table, Watford have climbed into the Championship playoff spots.
The Hornets can stay in the top five heading into the World Cup break with a win at Bristol City on Saturday.
Troost-Ekong, after that match, will head straight to Lisbon, where Nigeria will lock horns with Portugal in an international friendly.