End of Term Report Part 5 24/06/2009Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
Right then. Getting into the high teens… could be a bit trickier from here on in. Still, I managed a paragraph on Stuart Searle, how hard can the rest be?
18. Theo Robinson
Yet another one who prompts a puzzled look. Back in August, back in the pub before Crystal Palace when everyone predicted a far gloomier (not to mention less turbulent) outcome, we didn’t appear heavy on striking options. Theo Robinson came off the bench, did OK, and we expected to see more of him. He’s been one to watch for a while, the unexpected introduction at Loftus Road, aged 17, gave him that label and even his loan at Hereford, where lukewarm reports suggested that he struggled when the ball and goal weren’t in front of him, did little to dissuade that. As it is, we’re once again looking nervously forward at a difficult season, wondering where the goals might come from, but this time we know that Theo won’t be part of it. Critics might suggest that he hasn’t had a chance, which is true… but that successive managers haven’t given him a chance says something. It may be that like Steve Brooker or Wayne Andrews he’ll drop down a level or two and grow back to this division with experience. It seems he was never going to get that experience with us.
Next Season: Swindon, it would appear, not inappropriately. We had higher hopes of McNamee and Jerel Ifil, too.
19. Lionel Ainsworth
Deary me. There was a time when Ainsworth looked like a good catch, an exciting signing. It didn’t last terribly long. As we splashed out half a million quid I read a Derby messageboard where the sort of outraged idiot you find on every messageboard exclaimed “Watford just signed Ainsworth for half a million! typical! another one we’ve let go too early! ”. Somewhat premature, as judgments go… that Derby had let him go for free just three months before we signed him from Hereford should have said something.
Next Season: Ainsworth was arrested and charged with affray in March; Huddersfield have just splashed out on Robbie Simpson from Coventry… another right-winger. Ainsworth’s career has some recovering to do.
20. Al Bangura
It’s fair to say that Al’s career isn’t hitting the heights that his first full season suggested. It’s easy to forget just how significant he was in the promotion campaign… not just a charismatic youngster with a bit of promise, he was reliably and frequently employed to slam the door behind away victories before the victims had realised that their pockets had been picked. In the memorable semi-final win at Selhurst Park it was Bangura’s half-time introduction for Big Doris that swung the balance and ultimately the tie. Since then… what little action he’s had has emphasised his limitations rather than his ability.
Next Season: If there’s scope for a rehabilitation then you’d expect an erstwhile teammate to encourage it. I hope it happens… there’s a real asset there to be rediscovered.
21. Tommy Smith
There’s not a lot to say here that you don’t already know. Player of the Season for the second year running, scoring at a previously unsuggested rate and our most reliable creator to boot. It’s no surprise that other clubs want him. What surprises me are the occasional arguments that Smith’s age should somehow put him top of a list of assets to be realised, should such be the necessity. The reality is that whilst we’ve enjoyed similarly talented players in the recent past, it’s difficult to think of many whose obvious affiliation to the club and the area mean that we can probably depend on him not to swan off in search of the best offer going as a matter of course when his contract expires. That’s a big plus.
Next Season: Yer man down the road at Reading would appear to have prioritised Smudger as a target. One can only hope that he’s disappointed.
22. Will Hoskins
There’s a lot to be said for Will Hoskins. Industrious, persistent, clever. And yet… he’s still not quite convinced. And it’s been a few years now, note… two-and-a-half, I make it, and it’s not as if he was a completely untried youngster when he came here. Lee Williamson, signed at the same time, took time to establish himself too but finally did so, even if Brendan Rodgers decided that he could do better. If Hoskins hangs around, this has got to be make-or-break at Vicarage Road.
Next Season: With Rasiak gone and scope for others to leave, one might expect Hoskins to be in the front line of those to take advantage. However he was the higher profile Rotherham recruit at the time of his signing, and one might imagine that if Lee Williamson’s wages ultimately proved prohibitive then a manager who dropped Hoskins from his starting line-up during his earlier caretaker spell might be looking to move him on. You’d need a buyer first, mind.