Everton boss Marco Silva has suggested reported comments from Watford captain Troy Deeney ahead of Saturday's clash between the clubs are "a matter of strategy, nothing more".
The Premier League contest sees Silva make his first return to Vicarage Road since Watford sacked him last season.
And Hornets captain Deeney reportedly said at a fans' forum on Wednesday that it would be preferable if supporters left Silva alone while the striker and his team-mates "kick the s***" out of Everton's players instead.
When asked about that at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Silva smiled and said: "About what Troy said or not...I know what you are talking about.
"I can remind you what Troy said two months ago. Maybe if you go to search a little bit what he said two months ago in one interview, maybe you will understand maybe it is a matter of strategy, nothing more.
"And I know what Troy said to me when he was with me, every time."
While it was unclear exactly what Silva was referring to, just prior to the clubs' Goodison Park meeting on December 10 Deeney was quoted on Watford's website as saying of Everton forward Richarlison, his former team-mate: "I don't want to talk him up too much because I'm going to have to smash him on Monday! On Monday he's the enemy."
Silva also said on Friday: "More than a fight, our players have to be ready to play a football match.
"In some moments, some matches, they are asked for more aggressiveness, in the right way, and I think that will be the way, not just our players but Watford players will play also."
At the match in December, which ended in a 2-2 draw, Watford fans waved toy snakes at Silva.
The Portuguese, who says his return is "not a distraction for us, for sure", has declared himself "ready for everything" this weekend.
Asked how he reflected on his time with Watford and if he expected a hostile reception on Saturday, Silva said: "I think it is not the time to make some reflection about the last season. It is not the moment to talk about this situation.
"What I can tell you about Watford is it will be for sure a tough game.
"And if you ask me about the reception, in football we have to be ready for everything. It is normal when you build a career.
"I'm ready for everything and my job is to make my players also ready, for a tough match. Like normal, it will be decided on the pitch and as normal, the best team will win. That is the most important thing for me and it is my job to prepare my players for that."
Watford axed Silva in January last year after a poor run and said the "unwarranted approach" Everton had made for him earlier in the season when the Toffees were looking for a replacement for Ronald Koeman, was the "catalyst" for their decision. Silva ended up taking charge at Everton in May, replacing Koeman's successor Sam Allardyce.
Watford made an official complaint to the Premier League which alleged Everton had made an "illegal" approach, and in September it was understood the league had asked a law firm to launch an inquiry into the matter.
Everton are currently ninth – a place and a point behind Javi Gracia's Watford – having won only three times in their last 13 league games, losing eight of them. They have been beaten in four of their last five matches in all competitions.