David Cameron Walker

Archive for the ‘Watford’ Category

The New Watford Way

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

You already know the story. Little old Watford have been bought by Giampaolo Pozzo, the owner of Udinese and Granada and we now have loads of foreign players in on loan, something that has upset everyone’s favourite ranter Ian Holloway. You probably also know that as a result of this influx of quality new players we are sitting pretty challenging for automatic promotion. But what does this Watford fan make of the situation?

As I see it, there are three possible reasons one might criticize the new Watford way…

Reason one – It’s unfair

Well, even Holloway in his rant admitted that Watford are breaking no rules. The rules are the rules. If rolling subs were allowed in professional football, managers would use rolling subs in professional football. They can’t, so they don’t. The laws as they currently are allows an unlimited amount of foreign loan signings, so any team can have as many foreign loanees as they want. We have tonnes of them, and there is nothing unfair about it.

Reason two – “It’s destroying the heart and soul of the club”

I can understand why at the start of the Pozzo project, people may have been concerned that these loan players will come in, as short term mercenaries and then leave again, whilst local boys don’t get a chance in the first team. But this has simply not been the case. Since the Pozzo’s have arrived, academy product Tommie Hoban has made himself a fixture in the first team, Sir Lloyd Doyley, the world’s best, but most unfashionable footballer has played most of the time too, and several academy products have signed new long-term contracts with the club. There were also accusations that the academy had got ‘downgraded’ to add fuel to the anti-Pozzo fire. But no downgrading actually occurred; the Pozzo’s simply did not apply for the top rating under EPPP. They felt that at this point, the benefit of the top grade would not be worth the cost. There is no reason why we cannot apply for regarding in the future. They show no signs of killing off the academy either, as shown by the signing of Panos Armenekas, seen by many as one of the best U-16 players in the world…(Google him!)

Meanwhile, in terms of these loanees being temporary mercenaries, it doesn’t sound like this is the case. Ikechi Anya told the Watford Observer last week “We don’t feel like we are on loan. We are all one big group. I can understand where the negative comments are coming from because it is the first time this has happened but, as a team, we all feel like we’re a close unit.”

With Fernando Forestieri already signing a permanent deal, plenty more of the loanees are expected to follow suit shortly, with star players Matej Vydra and Almen Abdi have already stating their intentions to stay.

Reason three – The end of the ‘Watford way’

Over the last decade, Watford have consistently punched above their weight to stay at championship level. Year after year we have played against teams with far higher paid, more talented players, yet amazingly, we have survived. We have achieved this primarily through maintaining an amazing level of togetherness and an incredible work ethic in the squad. When coming up against better opposition, Watford players have responded by giving their all and busting a gut for the shirt, pressing the opposing team all over the pitch. One particular memory that typifies this for me is a 60 yard cross field run by Danny Graham when we wear already 2 up at Bristol City away a few years back which forced a corner from a dawdling keeper. This is just one of countless examples of the extraordinary willingness to give everything for the cause was typical of the Boothroyd-Mackay-Dyche ‘ Watford way.’ As a fan, I loved this. Despite mid table obscurity, I was able to have a huge amount of pride in my team, repeatedly living the underdog dream, whilst watching the boys giving their all and stealing points away at far superior teams across the land.

So, when the Pozzo’s arrived, I have to admit to being very concerned that a switch of manager from a no nonsense centre back to a stylish Italian Flair player, plus an influx of foreign talent was going to leave us with a lot of class, but result in us losing this ‘Watford way.’ But my fears were quickly allayed when I saw the new boys in action. Their work rate and commitment has been exceptional. I was particularly thrilled when in a recent home game, ‘Vydra pulled a Graham’ and ran a gut busting 70 yard sprint to force a corner when we already three ahead. This is not an isolated case. Every game, players are going in full-blooded for 50:50’s, chasing down lost causes and giving everything for the shirt.

This season has been the beginning of the new Watford way. The only difference from the old way? New Watford are a lot better at football.

Written by David Lawrence, We Are Going Up’s Watford blogger

David tweets at @davehlawrence

The original image of this article can be found here: http://www.thelindleygroup.com/news/news/lindley-scoops-watford-fc-vicarage-road-catering-contract (photographer Alan Cozzi)

The striker debate

Friday, February 15th, 2013

For the first time in years, we have choice. Choice in which players we want, choice in how much we want to sell our players for and more importantly when we want to sell them. But the biggest and most controversial choice so far this season is who starts up front.

At the beginning of the season, Gianfranco Zola acknowledged he had too many options and went for the three up front, one of them being Sean Murray who arguably suited the more attacking role. This system was dropped quicker than the player himself after the 5-1 defeat to Derby and we haven’t looked back since.

The return of Troy Deeney coincided with this tactical switch and for the first time in a long time, we had quality up top, which ever option Gianfranco took. The aforementioned Deeney came back from prison, after a strict diet of sit-ups and press-ups, nearly as wide as he is tall, Matej Vydra, the man with lightning pace and the best finish that I have ever seen, Alexander Geijo, the proven goalscorer who came from Spain, more of a deep lying forward providing solid link up play and a lot of flicks, and the mercurially brilliant and constantly mental Fernando Forestieri.

Forestieri and Deeney looked like the number 9 and 10 for the next 3 seasons when they first started playing together. Zola even said he thought they were his first choice, the signing of “Fessi” on a 4 and a half year contract in January confirmed as much. What Forestieri lacked though, was finishing. He somehow made the difficult things look simple and the simple stuff look difficult.

Vydra is the opposite. The Czech Republic international is ruthless. Scoring with a conversion rate of 65%, nearly every shot is a goal. The otter is rapid as well, as shown by the brilliant goal he scored against Brighton earlier on in the season, flick on by Deeney, Vydra sprints past Wayne Bridge and another no mark and then coolly slots passed Tomasz Kuszczak in the Brighton goal. There was inevitability he was going to score though. Every Watford fan knew it; unfortunately every scout knows it as well.

Geijo has been somewhat left out in the cold though whilst all this was going on. At one point the George Riley to Vydra’s Blissett, Geijo has dropped further and further down the pecking order and after a poor display versus Bristol City I doubt we’ll be seeing much of him again. Any other year though and we’d probably see the man who looks suspiciously like Scott Fitzgerald as our main striker.

The ideal partnership for me would be Forestieri and Vydra but Zola feels he can’t play both, and you can understand his thinking; both are worse in the air than Anthony MacNamee and so Deeney provides a panic ball if someone like Jonathan Hogg gets the ball. If there is a way though, I think Zola should try it, the football, if not the results, could be brilliant.

Written by Greg Cooper, We Are Going Up’s Watford blogger

Welcome to the Leftorium…

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

29th July 2011 was quite a significant day in recent Watford history. We signed a left back. A bona fide, left footed, owned by us, defender. And whilst it’s too early to pass any judgement on Carl Dickinson just yet, the early signs are encouraging. So why has it been so difficult to fill that slot in recent years? Some Hornets fans will tell you that we’ve not had a decent left back since Paul Robinson left for West Brom back in 2003. So I’ll have a look at those “number 3s” that have come and gone over the years and see what went wrong.

I was gutted when Robbo left. He was easily my favourite player at the time. A Watford boy by his upbringing, if not as a fan. He made his debut against L*t*n in ’96. Nothing like going in at the deep end. His tough tackling, no fear attitude, endeared him to the Vicarage Road faithful. He grew as a footballer during the climb from Division 2 to the Premier League, survived the Vialli season & was a key man in Ray Lewington’s side. But as is now the norm for a club like ours, the vultures were circling and our star left back was picked off for Albion on the cheap.

But fear not, Paul Mayo signed from Lincoln City in the latter half of the season. He arrived amongst rumours of long throws and thunderous penalties and certainly delivered on the throw-on front. I don’t recall him taking any penalties though. Probably because this was a period of Watford history when we weren’t making too many noises as an attacking force anyway. Of course, it wasn’t all about set pieces. His proper job was defending, but this was a struggle. It’s never easy making the leap up two divisions and it showed. Mayo struggled, as did his colleagues. Ray was sacked and the new kid on the block Boothroyd deemed Paul surplus to requirements.

So Boothroyd had a new left back to find and I was feeling quite positive when Jordan Stewart arrived on the scene. 1. I’d heard of him. 2. He’d played for England under 21s. But let’s be honest, it didn’t start well and never got above average. He was at fault during the opening day home defeat to Preston and there were runs of poor form that saw him dropped to the subs bench on occasions. But he was part of a promotion winning team and continued to play in the Premier League season despite the signing of Chris Powell. Powell only lasted one season (nice bloke but was getting on a bit) and Stewart carried on his Watford career into 2007-08  where he scored on the opening day of the season. But Aidy now had a big pot of parachute gold to splash out with. And splash out he did…..

Mat Sadler joined the Hornets from Birmingham in January 2008. Again the initial thoughts were positive. He’d been promoted with the St. Andrews outfit the previous season so knew what it took to get out of the Championship. It was the beginning of the end for Stewart and he was released early from his contract before the doomed play-off tie with Hull City. I asked a BCFC supporting friend for some exclusive insight into Sadler. He surmised that Mat was great in a winning team, but sunk very much into his shell when up against it. Unfortunately for Mat and us Watford fans, we were very much up against it for the second half of that season and Mat didn’t so much sink into his shell as disappear completely into a footballing black hole. Now I like to see the good in everyone and there is one moment that I remember from Sadler’s Watford career. 2-0 down early in the second half of the first leg of the previously mentioned play off semi final against Hull City, Sadler let fly with a left footed volley from the edge of the box. I was rising to my feet anticipating the bulge in the back of the net when Boaz Myhill appeared from nowhere to make a great diving stop. It could have been so different for all concerned. Of course, that wasn’t the end to his Watford career. That came in that awful 4-2 home defeat to Bristol City late in 2008 as Brendan was trying to make sense of what Aidy had left behind. Hauled off at half time, we never saw him again.

So if Brendan didn’t fancy Mat Sadler, who was he going to get in to play left back? Well by now Jon Harley was at the club. And I loved Jon Harley, almost as much as I loved Robbo! He had that similar all out committed style and Brendan gave him some chances at left back. But it was around this time that he started to sew the seeds of turning Lloyd Doyley into a Southpaw. And when Malky Mackay took over at the start of the 2009-10 season Doyley was firmly in the left back slot with Harley used more as a left winger either from the start or from the bench.

Of course we thought we had the answer last season. Andrew Taylor, on loan and apparently unwanted at Middlesbro’ was something of a revelation and it seemed inevitable that he would sign in the January transfer window. But a change of manager at Boro put paid to that and now he’s plying his trade across the border with a few other familiar faces. And so that brings us back to the present day. And perhaps now we have our man, fingers crossed! He certainly seems the committed, hard tackling, get stuck in type. So who knows, I might end up loving him as much as I did Robbo & Harley!!!

Written by Jason Bailey – writer for From The Rookery End

Jason tweets at @JasBailey