There was a banner in the crowd that read "Forza Watford", reflecting the new Italian feel at the club, but many more performances like this and it will have to be changed to "Arrivederci" instead. If Gianfranco Zola thought life in the Championship was going to be easy after his new side's victory on the opening day on Saturday, Michael Chopra's winner in the 90th minute for Ipswich showed him how punishing the division can be.
Ipswich were excellent. Against a side they had not beaten in 15 attempts, a miserable run stretching back to 2004, Paul Jewell's team were sharp, neat and passed the ball expertly, with Lee Martin and Massimo Luongo outstanding in midfield. "They've been a bit of a bogey side for us, so it was good to put that to bed," said Jewell, who would not be drawn on a possible move for the Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu.
Only errant finishing threatened to ruin the visitors' evening. Ipswich spent much of the first half camped inside Watford's half, Martin testing Manuel Almunia from long range and Luongo firing wide. In the Ipswich goal, Scott Loach was a virtual spectator against the club he left in the summer and the home fans quickly tired of jeering him for leaving them. They had enough to worry about watching their own side, who looked as if they had been thrown together just before kick-off.
While Zola wants to introduce an expansive style of football at Watford, they improved only when the physicality of Chris Iwelumo was introduced up front and Ipswich nearly paid for their profligacy when Aaron Cresswell inadvertently headed against his own bar late on. By then Ipswich had already wasted several inviting opportunities, not least when Chopra horribly skewed wide from Martin's fine cross midway through the second half. As Watford finished strongly, Jewell must have feared the worst yet Ipswich got their reward in the dying stages when Carlos Edwards escaped on the right and sent a low cross into the six-yard box. This time Chopra could not miss.
"It was a fair result and the better team won," said Zola. "We know there is a lot of work to do. It won't be a bad result that will kill my enthusiasm to play football in a certain way. I think the players will understand. I'm not going to change because of one game. It won't move my principles. We have had a lot of players coming in, so it will not be possible for everything to go well right now. The Championship is a long journey. This is just the beginning." Wherever Watford end up there could be some bumps along the way.