Sunday, 24 January 2016

Matters arising

It’s been so long since I wrote anything on this blog that I feel a need to state my position on various burning topics related to Watford FC – mainly to remind myself what my position is.

The summer signings
Back in July, I expressed serious misgivings about the sheer number of new players arriving at the club. I wasn’t the only one, but that’s no excuse; clearly, I was wrong to be concerned. In my defence, I was assuming that the players who got us to the promised land would all be pushed out by these upstart newcomers, and that soon proved not to be the case. Deeney, Ighalo, Gomes, Cathcart, Watson, Abdi and Anya have all played most games, and that’s created a stable base for the likes of Britos, Aké, Capoue, Jurado and Nyom to establish themselves. So far, at least, it’s worked.

You could still argue that the transfer policy was flawed, since so many of the new signings have barely featured. Oularé and Berghuis are clearly works in progress, and Prödl and Behrami are useful squad members; but Arlauskis appears to have been merely a stopgap, judging by the recent recruitment of Pantilimon, while Holebas never wanted to be here, Diamanti doesn’t like being on the bench, and Ibarbo and Guedioura seem to have been signed purely to fill slots in the squad.

Of course, we’ve been lucky with injuries so far. In an alternative universe, some of the above-named would have played more of a role and their presence would have been amply justified.

The ones who were let go
I know this argument has long since died down, but for the record, I (reluctantly) acknowledge that the decisions to send various beloved squad members out on loan were largely correct. Most of them are currently doing the job you’d expect – but in the Championship, and without suggesting they could replicate it a level higher.

The one I really regret seeing go is Fernando Forestieri. I’d love to see him coming off the bench with 15 minutes of a game to go and confusing the hell out of Premier League defenders. We don’t have a player who can do that at the moment, and I wish we did. But the fact that Fernando is averaging a goal every two games at Sheffield Wednesday (11 in 21 starts so far) is probably the result of him being a regular starter, and that was never going to happen at Vicarage Road.

Yes, he’s an impressively talented player, great with the ball at his feet and a skillful passer of the ball. He showed all this and more against Newcastle yesterday, and he’s getting better all the time. BUT his failure to score a single goal to date irks me. Someone playing the role he does really ought to be chipping in with five or six goals a season.

Perhaps the answer is simply that if he combined an eye for goal with his other talents, he’d be at a bigger club than Watford.

My favourite player
And finally... Regular readers have doubtless been on tenterhooks since August, when I announced it was time for me to choose a new favourite Watford player to replace Lloyd Doyley.

In the end, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone to learn that it’s got to be Troy Deeney. Almen Abdi has a special place in my heart (and I think there’s more to come from him), and Odion Ighalo is one of the most instinctive goalscorers we’ve ever seen in a yellow shirt. But Troy is the beating heart of this team, the one player whose absence would really worry me. He’s been central to the Pozzo project almost from day one (well, apart from that unfortunate incident and its consequences), and I fervently hope that he’ll stay and see it through to the next stage. Right now, it’s hard to imagine a Watford team without him.