Derby County showed the love that Watford fans didn’t towards their former player Will Hughes amid his return to the Hornets.
It’s fair to say that the Derby supporters’ love for Hughes is unconditional and ongoing, with the attacking midfielder rising through the ranks of the academy right through to the first team, becoming one of their most valuable players.
He finally got his deserved move to the Premier League when Watford came calling in the summer of 2017. In his first two seasons in England’s top-flight, Hughes struggled to make much of an impact, scoring four goals and recording just seven assists in 47 games.
For much of last season, and start of the new season, Watford have deployed the playmaker on the wing. Hughes played his entire Derby career in the heart of midfield where he was allowed to express his creativity and intricate passing range.
Overall, Hughes has grabbed six goals and 10 assists in the yellow of Watford in 64 appearances. For Derby, the 24-year-old scored 12 goals and got 18 assists in a hefty 189 appearances for the club. This means that, statistically, Hughes is actually performing better in the Premier League than he did for the Rams in the Championship. For Watford, he was directly involved in a goal every four games. For Derby, he was involved in one, on average, every 6.3 matches.
But it was more about his story and performances at the club that has made Hughes such a cult hero at Pride Park – the moments like scoring against Nottingham Forest and lifting his broken hand in a cast to his ear in front of the rival supporters.
After returning to the squad after an injury, Watford released this tweet to ask fans just how excited they were to see the Englishman back in action.
The consensus among Vicarage road was that they’d rather see Domingos Quina.
Did you actually watch him? How could anyone be happy with having him back? Seriously.
— Chris (@Chris_s0302) October 27, 2019
would’ve rathered quina if i’m being honest
— lewis (@perxyra_) October 27, 2019
No I want Quina
— WfcHarry (@Wfc_Harry) October 27, 2019
On seeing their discontent, the Derby fans dominated the comments in a plea for their academy product to return to the Rams.
@wjhughes19 come back home m8, where you belong
— Theo (@Theoowatson) October 28, 2019
Come back to derby @wjhughes19
— Harryhammond21 (@harryhammond21) October 28, 2019
@wjhughes19 come home lad 🐑
— reece (@reece12256632) October 28, 2019
Hughes needs to come home they clearly don’t want him there 🐏
— Jack Simpson (@Jackosimmo3) October 28, 2019
@dcfcofficial do the right thing lads
— Lewis Barker (@lewis20015) October 28, 2019