As you will see, I have been a far from regular blogger but my post-Christmas (not New Year’s) resolution is to do this more regularly, both on Watford FC and the state of state education in England.
Anyway, back to my main point is that a constant refrain from other Watford FC fans is that “We should be doing better than this because we have the strongest squad in the Championship”. Whilst I don’t know exactly the strengths and weaknesses of the other sides in our league, I thought I would examine ours.
Of the three goalies we have none can be described as the best in the league – Gomes is a great shot stopper and can on occasions perform well on crosses. However his kicking isn’t great as he seems to get more height than distance on too many occasions. Also he has struggled on crosses this year e.g. vs Cardiff and I would like to see him command his six-yard box better.
Bond has his strengths in many of the same areas as Gomes – unfortunately he shares his weaknesses too. As for Gilmartin, great radio co-commentator, but not the answer.
For me, still a weakness within the squad. We only have one left-footed wing/full back and that is Pudil. Bags of enthusiasm and a “great engine” but woefully one-footed and questionable positional sense. Many times he has been caught upfield and the opposition has played the ball over him into space. Sannino’s major change when he took over was to play him 20 metres further back. A lesson that Slav & Daniel need to remember. Alas, on the other side Parades shares all of Pudil’s faults with few of his redeeming features – with each game he seems to regress.
Lloyd Doyley has rarely been bested by opponents and indeed I really don’t think Zaha’s career ever recovered from the time he spent in Lloyd’s pocket at Wembley – however the years do appear to have caught up with him and I fear this will be his last in the yellow shirt.
Danny Batth’s performance for Wolves reminded me of what we are missing from all of our central defenders – the ability to command the back line. Angella, Bassong, Cathcart and the (unfairly IMO) oft-derided Ekstrand are all decent players, keen to play out from the back. Hoban’s early promise seems to have been replaced by “bambi-on-ice” nervousness. All of them do have a propensity for the silly foul on the edge of the box and need to attack the ball better when crosses come in.
In Abdi & Toszer we have the two best passers of the ball in the Championship – no argument, though sometimes I wish Toszer didn’t try to be Glenn Hoddle quite so often. Munari has two levels of performance – dire (vs Wolves) or brilliant (vs Milwall). As for Murray – he seems to be heading down the Wichelow/McNamee route from “answer” to obscurity. Guediora seems highly capable and I would suggest we should look to keep him for the rest of this season. Despite the undoubted skills of all of these, we still lack the ball-winner/destroyer every successful team has. (For the record I don’t want Hogg or Eustace back) We’ll never know what Andrews did but I think we can count him out of any further consideration.
On the flanks, the situation is no clearer; Anya is best summed up by my wife’s comment from an earlier game when towards the 80 minute mark she exclaimed surprise he was still on the pitch “when he’s done nothing for the whole game”. Whilst the Lord does move in mysterious ways it doesn’t seem that he is moved to give Ilkechi consistent direction on his crossing. Dyer has been a real disappointment – surly and disruptive off the pitch and inconsistent and inconsequential on it. Forestieri is a bundle of contradictions all of his own. Perfectly capable of destroying teams by himself, equally capable of an inability to control or pass a football. Entertaining and frustrating in equal measure. Nobody, least of all him, seems to know his most effective position.
The one undoubted star who would walk into any other team in our division is, of course, Troy Deeney- he does seem determined to work at his game and improve his all-round play, but recently he has been dropping deep to see the ball. Vydra is another one who needs to make his mind up-will he stick or twist with us? Moodiness is fine in an actor or singer, less so in a centre forward. Were I the gaffer, I would be dropping him for Ighalo, a player I like more every time I see him, just keep him away from penalties. I think the least said about Fabbrini, the better.
The Head Coach
As someone who also has been cursed/blessed with a face that never looks right when smiling I actually quite like Jokanovic as a person. However I see why most of the fanbase has failed to warm to him. Whether we love him or not is probably irrelevant but the inconsistent nature of our current play must, to a degree, be down to him. I’m not convinced by the “he needs an English coach” line either – I wasn’t sorry when my old schoolmate (OK he was two years ahead of me) Nigel Gibbs didn’t come – emotion and sentimentality are not a sound basis on which to choose staff. I hope the fans and Gino Pozzo give him time and support in the transfer window, whilst reminding him of the fact that the play-offs are a minimum for this season.
If you’ve read this long, I thank you. You are probably thinking how negative I’ve been, but all I have done is try to answer the question posed in the blog title and to sum up the answer is that we have some of the most talented players in the Championship when we have the ball, but we fall well short of the best when we have to defend.