Championship play-off final: Watford need to enjoy it, says Zola

Watford boss Gianfranco Zola has said his players would be "crazy" to let the pressure of Monday's Championship play-off final affect them.

The Hornets face Crystal Palace at Wembley with a place in the Premier League at stake.

Zola told BBC Three Counties Radio: "If they don't enjoy it they are crazy.

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"We've been working all year to get to this situation and I don't want too much pressure to distract them from the atmosphere," he added.

"Whatever happens it will be a great day and to be there will be a pleasure, not a stress."

The financial reward for securing promotion to the Premier League is the highest it has ever been, with a new improved TV deal worth £55m a season for top-flight clubs.

According to accountancy firm Deloitte, Monday's winners will see a total revenue increase of £60m next year and, with parachute payments included, will scoop a sum of £120m even if they come straight back down.

Zola, a winner at Wembley twice in the FA Cup with Chelsea, will be making his managerial debut in a play-off final.

His opposite number Ian Holloway will be entering his third Championship play-off final in four years, after winning promotion with Blackpool in 2010 and failing at Wembley two years later, but his Palace side were two places and five points worse off than the Hornets this season.

Play-off final in numbers

  • Worth an estimated £60m in revenue next season
  • Guaranteed a total sum of £120m from the experience
  • 17 of the 30 promoted sides in the last 10 years have stayed in the top flight for more than one season
  • A sell-out 90,000 crowd at Wembley
  • Four of the last 10 play-off winners have gone on to survive in the Premier League the next season

"Their manager has already played these games before," said Italian Zola, whose side beat Leicester 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

"I don't think they are the underdogs. I would say we are more the underdogs because at the beginning of the season nobody was expecting us to be there.

"I'm expecting them to be difficult to beat."

Holloway had been outspoken about Watford's recruitment policy earlier in the season.

He said the Vicarage Road side had been using a "loophole" to sign a host of international loan signings from Udinese and Granada.

But, rather than focus on Watford's transfer dealings, the former Plymouth boss has been talking about Watford's "fantastic" qualities ahead of the clash.

"I'm very complimentary about his team because they beat Brighton in the semi-final," added Zola.

"They did a very good job and so they have my respect."