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Watford 1 Plymouth Argyle 2 (16/09/2008) 17/09/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
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Thunks from the defeat to the Argyle…

1- What it all boils down to is that we don’t have enough goals in the team. By a long chalk. So going behind will always leave us with a bit of a problem, dramatic victories over Ipswich notwithstanding. We weren’t great in the first half hour last night but we were doing OK, by some distance the better side. After going behind we looked increasingly desperate and clueless, borne of not quite knowing where one goal, let alone two, was going to come from. Nothing that we didn’t fear and expect; that’s what you get for (having to be) selling all your leading goalscorers.

2- That said… it doesn’t help when one injury causes a domino effect that disrupts every area of the team with players moved out of their strongest positions. So we miss Rasiak, as far as we’ve been able to judge. But arguably Sadler has been missed more, given that Harley has been moved out of the midfield slot that seems to suit his energy so well, McAnuff has been moved onto his weaker left side with an effect on his form that makes you wonder how and why so many managers at different clubs have seen fit to play him on “the wrong flank”, and then first Tommy Smith and last night Lee Williamson are forced into positions that chuck a blanket over their hitherto positive contributions to the team. Away at Wednesday, fine. But home to Plymouth, a side not blessed with great wide players, why not Aidy Mariappa at left back and leaving the rest where it was, working kind of ok….?

3- And whither Damien Francis? Not that he hasn’t been a huge let-down, but he’s still a big bloke (which we now sorely lack), an experienced player (ditto, esp off the bench) and has a goal in him (ditto again). Is it possible that we need to force him to agree to a loan in order to bring in options in less well-covered positions?

4- Priskin. Whatever his limitations – discussed ad nauseam – it’s hardly his fault that he finds himself first choice striker (which he is on merit, despite Hoskins’ increased mobility) given the fire sale, rather than the position of youngster in the wings who needs some work. He struggled again last night, but cheering the substitution (through injury, not that you noticed) of a 22 year old who we really really need to come good is moronic.

5- Timewasting. Not a criticism of Argyle, who after all were bottom of the league with no wins and leading away from home. But what’s the bloody point of cajoling players to get a shift on if you neither enforce the issue by showing a card (how right-back Doumbe got away without a booking for so long is a mystery) and then add on a laughable three minutes at the end. Good. Smegging. God.

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Comments»

1. JohnF - 17/09/2008

Very disappointing after it looked not bad. I thought Priskin did OK but the service was limited. Of greater worry were the defensive lapses that resulted in us shipping two unnecessary goals and that was not helped by some rather wayward passing in midfield. I agree that MacAnuff looked out of place but he really doesn’t help himself and seems to lack determination. Smith would have been a better option on the left and Ainsworth looked lively but they are right footed and the lack of a left-sided player in midfield does unbalance things. Williamson is too constrained out wide. JJ did OK again in a freer role but we really seem to lack pace – or anticipation. Why oh why didn’t we start to shoot with purpose until near the end?

2. Harefield Hornet - 17/09/2008

The transfer policy at the club, perhaps necessary – misguided or otherwise or whatever, is certainly begining to pay dividends now. We are looking extremely lightweight throughout the team (squad) now and the first public signs of AB’s desperation with this situation has filtered into the National Press this morning. “I’ll have to have a word with the chairman and see whats available” he has quoted, with a reference also to the amount of games approaching us in quite a short timescale. Lets just hope the chairman will in indeed “see whats available”………. and make it bloody quick before its too late.

3. Jamie - 17/09/2008

With respect to the time wasting all the referee has to do is make an example of one player and book them. Message sent. But they remain so spineless!

4. Tim Turner - 17/09/2008

Credit to Plymouth, they worked out their tactics to perfection. Knowing that most of our threat comes down the flanks, they mobbed McAnuff and Smith every time they got the ball, and both spent much of the match fruitlessly trying to dribble their way out of a pack of three or four defenders. Argyle’s workrate and closing down was exceptional, forcing Watford to hurry their passes, and it’s no accident that our goal came at a stage when they were finally starting to tire and, as a result, lose concentration.

Re the striker situation: is there not the option of recalling Moses Ashikodi from his loan at Hereford? With Robinson and Henderson both out, surely it would be useful to have a pacey striker we could stick on the bench?

5. Clutching at Straws - 17/09/2008

I have to admit driving home last night I was as depressed by our performance as I have been by any over the years. Just like in many games last year, we started brightly against a very poor team and than after about 20 minutes, a switch was flicked and all the confidence evaporated.

Danny Baker was inviting calls on “When you know your team is out of its depth”. I was sorely tempted as I believe our current squad is just not strong enough to cope with most sides that we will face.

I really can’t see us scoring too many and Bromby and DeMerit are, ala,s not a great centre half pairing, so we will always be vulnerable at the back . Too many of the players playing last night are just physically too small to cope with this division, as a team we have no height at all.

The most gut-wrenching thing is that with our current financial circumstances, I can’t see what Aidy can do other than hope for the best with players recovering from injury. It looks like a long hard season ahead. The team need the fans more than ever and I will cheer not boo, but I fear the worst

6. Play-Off Pete - 17/09/2008

A game of three halves!
We played some good stuff in the first 30 minutes but too slow a build-up (meaning 21 players all in the same area) and a lack of any shots on goal led to our undoing.

The second 30 minutes saw Plymouth with their heads up and ours down, not surprisingly given our lack of confidence.

The third 30 minutes saw us beginning to think maybe we could get something out of this after all.

Marry up the best bits of the first thirty minutes with the endeavour and shots in the last thiry minutes and …

7. Rooski - 17/09/2008

These are no longer ‘thunks’ – they’re longer than most match reports!

8. The Great Big O - 17/09/2008

After the game, Aidy said “If you were to say we are in for a long, hard winter I would have to get my coat and agree with you.”

Is that in the Fast Show sense of “I’ll get me coat”?

9. MartinG - 17/09/2008

If any team, as Plymouth did, sit everyone behind the ball then we seem to be completely stymied. Everyone gets on Priskin’s case but how often is he given any sort of killer pass or decent cross to work off? Some of the passing last night was atrocious. Eustace gave the ball away repeatedly, and although we are trying to pass now I agree with JohnF, if you do it at glacial pace then you are going to have real problems breaking teams down. It’s a bit reminiscent of the period just before Aidy arrived in the first place. We’re going full circle.

10. Matt Rowson - 18/09/2008

Rooski – don’t bloody read it then. Last season I was criticised for being too succinct. What causes so many folk to comment on the length of the thunks rather than the content…?

Tim… I think the fact that Ashikodiwas sent out at all in the circumstances suggests how highly he’s rated. Add the fact that he was very quickly relegated to the bench by Hereford (bottom of Div 3, mark you) and now, apparently, beyond that and I don’t think he looks like much of an option. Robinson’s arm break shouldn’t keep him out for long, Rasiak should be back soon if on track, we have Hoskins and Henderson both of whom look better bets that Moses.

11. Chris - 18/09/2008

Matt,
I can read as much of your stuff as you care to write. Make those thunks just as long as you like. This is the only way some of us distant beings get a glimpse of what is really going on.

12. Johnny Boy - 18/09/2008

- Tend to agree with all the points made so far, especially JohnF’s about the defence as I am getting worried about Jay – distribution still not good and needing to make saving tackles when better positioning would have seen off the need. Also felt Eustace was playing to many square balls (I know—‘as apposed to round ones’— hehehe) but you know what I mean.
– Jj isn’t looking a 90 minute player at the moment. My understanding is he came back ‘slightly’ overweight hence the reason for not featuring much pre season – maybe Aidy should bring him on as an impact player till fully fit.
– Goalscoring; play TS up front with Priskin/Hoskins/Raziak. Move Jobi to right flank. Harley attacking left midfielder, Eustace and Williamson central mid – but what do I know!!!!

Anyway role on Reading, clutching at straws – we tend to play better against better teams

C,mon Watford.

13. Simmo - 18/09/2008

The one area of the game which no one seems to have mentioned yet is how we resorted to type. In the first 20 minutes of the game we tried to pass the ball albeit at a snails pace and to no effect. However after that I lost count of the number of times Jay just lumped the ball into an open space. This is even less effective when you don’t have a tall player to try to get onto the high ball and as a consequence we lost possession without even mounting a meaningful attack.

We can discuss the individual strengths and weaknesses of players (and by the way I still see no point in playing MacAnuff) but actually having been promised a “new style passing game” it has taken less than 6 matches before we have reverted to the “old style” which didn’t work with arguably better players. I feel that until this has been (re) addressed by Aidy we will have more results like this.

14. Andy - 18/09/2008

Priskin just doesn’t get the delivery he wants, those through-balls to run onto. He worked harder than I’ve seen him but still not quite as much as we need. The guy has got to feel the pressure at the moment and I really, really want him to come good. Anyone knows the damage to Doyley?

Also, just a quick point…I shout, and shout quite a bit throughout the match. I shout when a pass goes bad and cheer when a move is good. To me the match is pure emotion. Problem is several people around me who sit in silence (and I mean silence, when Hoskins put that ball wide in front of the Rookery there wasn’t even any movement) glare and make comments about me and I feel like I’m the one being out of order. I’m not usually one to take those things to heart but to be honest when I get told to “shut up for f*cks sake” at a football match, I feel a bit aggrieved. Comments anyone?

15. Tim Turner - 18/09/2008

I take your point about Ashikodi – though sometimes sending a player on loan is a way of getting them match-fit so they’re ready when you need them. Look at how Bouazza improved while he was at Swindon.

But if Moses isn’t even getting a game for Hereford, you’re probably right. It’s a shame; the brief glimpse of him we got in the FA Cup the year before last was tantalising, and I’ve been looking forward to hm breaking into the first team. Maybe it’s a question of his attitude rather than his talent.

16. Andy - 18/09/2008

…and I never boo.

17. DM - 18/09/2008

There’s certainly a train of thought that suggests we recall Kabba, if possible under the terms of his loan. The lack of alternatives to Hoskins for this Saturday’s match is startling, even given our known lack of striking options..

18. DW - 18/09/2008

1.Very sad to hear the cheer that greeted the news that Priskin was to be replaced, clearly the penny hasn’t dropped for many that he is as good as it gets for us at the moment.

2. Williamson doesn’t have the pace to play wide so we were not able to stretch Plymouth but I’m not sure what other options we had, Ainsworth is not the answer yet.

3. Demerit’s performance showcased his best and worst attributes in one game. Some very poor passing, positional play and a needless handball to give away the penalty but a number of fantastic tackles late on when we were chasing the game.

4. JJOT continues to be an enigma (or is it just the traits of a young player), he changed the game coming off the bench against Ipswich but not able to impose himself in any way against Plymouth.

5. Mart Poom would have been a better keeper before the “no pass back rule” was introduced.

19. Daf - 18/09/2008

Martin G I agree with your priskin comment. I didn’t go to the game the other night but I did go to the sheffield game where he was being blamed for our poor performance up front.
The last thing we need to do is further undermine his fragile confidence. I am right in thinking he is our only real centreforward that Aidy refers to.
Please everyone who reads this, save your critiscm of Priskin for the journey home or a website somewhere. Anywhere but at the game.

20. Sequel - 18/09/2008

I, on the other hand, love a good long “thunk” and in this instance, the nail has been hit firmly between thumb and forefinger..
By the way, I also listened to Danny Baker after the game; cheered me up no end, especially when describing Liverpool as being a bit lumpy

21. Dave Hart - 18/09/2008

Ashikodi has been criticised strongly by Hereford fans on 606. The writing seems to be on the wall for him. At this rate, we’ll have to start playing one of our centre backs up front, but we don’t have many of them!

I wasn’t impressed with some of the back passes to Poom. They were bounced rather than rolled, making it difficult for him to clear them.

I felt sorry for Williamson, having to play out of position on the right. He has been one of our most improved players this season.

22. RGW - 18/09/2008

As Alan Hansen would say, to play a passing game you have to pass and move. There’s only two things wrong with our version of it. The passing, and the movement.

I have to say that the problem is probably more the lack of movement, which gives the passer no options. There’s also absolutely no thinking going on at all. How often do we see a player get the ball in a promising position, but then take so long to work out what to do with it that the position gets closed down?

23. Esp - 18/09/2008

Matt – I think Rooski was gently taking the Mickey but I think a smiley would have helped :-)

Imho your “thunks” were spot on and encapsulated a lot of what me and Paul Jr were saying in the car on the way home, especially your points about the team (formation) disruptions caused by injuries

The first half btw drove me to escape upstairs and have a pint in the UR with other displaced East Standers (as the authorities don’t allow the LR to sell alcohol within sight of the pitch) – bastards!

I agree with those above who are mystified about why our strikers are still out on loan; depite Matt’s point to have Rasiak, Robinson and Priskin out surely constitites an emergency whatever the recovery timings are; moreover Aidy is quoted today as saying “our ONLY cenre forward currently is Tommy Smith” not only is that true but it is a huge responsibility to put on Smudgers shoulders even if he won’t (or can’t) complain about it

To have Ellington, Kabba and Ashikodi on loan whilst we are looking for loan cover elsewhere is preposterous!!

Simpson won’t give Aidy the money to cover the wages of players of the quality of Scott Sinclair (currently not playing in the Chelsea first team) or Priskin’s Hangarian strike partner Krisztian Nemeth (currently not getting a game at Liverpool) so surely we have to recall one or two of those players despite their limitations

Finally December 2005 saw the famous home match where DeMerit was asked to play as a striker due to squad injuries in that season

That was against Plymouth of course and earlier in that season at the same stage as now we had accumulated 17 points

Although we only have 7 now we had played 3 MORE league games therefore we are not a million miles away from where we were in late September 2005/6

…..and we all know what happened at the end of that season :-)
Earlier in the season at the same time as our

24. James - 18/09/2008

Ah this is more like it. A few more games like this and hopefully the boo-boys will finally bugger off and leave us in peace.

Ok Priskin is still a long way from being a decent division two forward, but he is improving. Tuesday night was probably the best 45 minutes he’s played for Watford. He held the ball up well, he created a few chances, and he even won the ball in the air a few times. He didn’t really make any major mistakes, he just needs to attack the ball more when it arrives in the box.
He certainly didn’t look brilliant, but he did at least look competent.

Then the idiots cheer when he’s taken off. Hoskins comes on, and makes… no impact at all.

25. Matt Rowson - 19/09/2008

DM – there’s always you and me mate. A demon forward line if ever there was one. I’m free Saturday afternoon….

esp… if it were as simple as recalling them you might have a point. but we know from the fact that the likes of bamba and de la cruz weren’t taken on that it’s strictly one out, one in. Ellington’s loan was definitely a transfer, structured to avoid paying unnecessary funds to west brom. a substantial loan fee was involved which we wouldn’t want to pay back even if we had a recall clause. And I’m not sure we’d want him back during ramadan would we? I would imagine that Ashikodi’s the only one we can bring back, and not sure we’d want to.

Dave Hart – completely agree about Williamson, him and Eustace sitting has been a key feature of our better performances.

26. Dan - 19/09/2008

Ellington, Kabba and/or Ashikodi are not the answer. They weren’t the answer last year, they have not magically improved overnight, and we are better off without them.

Hoskins has his chance now – I hope he takes it as, despite not having seen much of him, I rate him.

Andy – I think you are a few seats along from me… it is one of the quieter areas (actually that applies to most of the ground). There are some people behind me who whinge and moan every time people stand up for attacking free kicks/corners. I’d just carry on if I were you, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of shouting as long as it’s not negative.

27. Old Git - 19/09/2008

Is it only me who finds Chelsea’s appointment of that idiot Wilkins most amusing?

28. DM - 19/09/2008

Matt – I’ll bring my boots..

29. Johnny Boy - 19/09/2008

Re Old Git’s comment – me too.

30. Esp - 19/09/2008

Old Git

My answer to your query about Uncle Fester is YES very amusing

Has he been successful anywhere apart from a modicum of success with the England U-21’s?

Older readers will hate Bassett with a passion for what he did to our club but my allegiance only goes back to GT #2 and beyond therfore my 2 favourites for title “Most Hated Watford servants” are Vialli and Wilkins for what they presided over (aided it must be said by the short sighted Directors of that period)

A genuine quote from Wilkins in tonight’s Evening Standard goes: “I will be preparing team talks for Felipe and videos .. or should I say DVD’s these days”

In the same article the “other” Gianfranco Zola said ” Ray will do a great job at Chelsea. When I was a player there it was always a pleasure to work with him and he’s a very humble man.”

Funny, “humble” would not have been one of the first words I would use to describe the twat.

Finally Andy “shut up for f*cks sake” :-)

Seriously without people like you (me) and hundreds of others Vicarage Road would be silent just like any other identikit football stadium serving up entertainment for corporate financiers, local businessmen and their guests in their boxes and SOMETIMES bothering to turn around to watch the match….still if QPR becomes the model for Championship clubs (£50 for adults and £30 for kids for a forthcoming home match) the Vic Road and non-season ticket seats in the Rookery and Rous will be empty!!

31. Lincoln 'Orn - 20/09/2008

I’ve just had a listen to Betty on the World web site and I was very surprised to hear him very low key. I know he has lots of problems this season and it looks like being a difficult one but it’s the first time I have heard him quite so downbeat. There was a definite air of resignation about him and he gave the interviewer no help at all. He is usually quite optimistic about things regardless of wether we are winning or losing and always has a bit of banter with the interviewer. If he has thrown the towel in already we really have got problems.

Am I the only one who just can’t get my head round our financial situation at the moment. Could someone enlighten me as to why we seemingly have absolutely no available funds for players at all. After the previous three seasons or so of relative success on the field and making money on transfers I just don’t understand the current situation. Matt, you seem an intelligent bloke. Could you put things into basic terms and explain it to me please!!

With regard to Betty being downbeat I must say I am feeling the same way so I can understand him to a degree. I have never felt so uninspired about a season for a long time. Sorry for being so negative folks, perhaps we’ll beat Reading and everything will be fine!!

32. Matt Rowson - 20/09/2008

Lincoln, I’d say there are two or three key factors and no great mystery.

The ground, of course.

Graham Simpson is trying to sell, having not unreasonably gotten fed up with getting stick. Why invest in those circumstances?

Most of all, the eternal Premier League quandary. A smaller team like us getting promoted – PARTICULARLY in our circumstances, based on an inspired team and relatively little investment – is going to have a problem. Who do you sign, how do you persuade them to join you? You need Premier League players, but they come with premier league salaries. Many of your players will have salary rises built into their contracts conditional on promotion. What do you do… risk bankrupting the club by committing to salaries that will be unsustainable if you get relegated? Or not invest at all, get stuffed every week and attract the ire of your support? Or try to tread a steady path between the two, trying to pick up Division 2 players who wouldn’t rather wait for a better offer, or top flight players who are worth signing despite only being able to attract the weakest side in the top flight?

I’d say we tried the latter, with dubious success. Your big chance, having been relegated, is then the first season down. And we blew it, despite our lead at Christmas and despite the (perhaps reckless) January investment. We blew it. In the circumstances, they have no choice but to do what they can, this summer, to cut their cloth to their new level of income. The alternative is to wait another season, to try again with the bigger names, but you can’t sign any more big names, even if you don’t sell off your current big earners, and everyone knows you’re on a downer. If you don’t go up, you’re completely screwed for the following summer – a real fire sale. We’ve been there before, in 2002.

So for me, painful as it is, all they could do was behave the way they have done, sell of the big earners, particularly those we can get fees for. And then build again. Even now, Damien Francis for example will be on big, big money. That’s the unavoidable reality. People don’t want to buy the “failures”.

33. Dave Hart - 20/09/2008

Lincoln,

Look at the fire sale that Charlton had to make, and they came down with us. Their squad is now barely recognisable from the previous season. The real problem after the Vialli debacle was that no-one could afford to buy our players. At least we managed to offload some of them to other clubs this time.

With the credit crunch meaning banks and other financial institutions reluctant to lend money, selling or loaning out players can be the only way to keep the costs down. A year or so ago we could have borrowed the money from somewhere, or issued some more shares.

34. Andy - 22/09/2008

Dan – exactly. I’d say I’m negative and positive when it’s appropriate. But I would never get on the boys backs when I can see they’re doing their best or their jobs properly. I think it’s just noise in general some people have issue with. When did it all change?

Esp – I was waiting for that! :)


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