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Reasons to be cheerful… 02/01/2007

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.
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…if you do it quietly when nobody’s looking. Come now, it’s not that daft. After the frozen sterility of December – during which our forward play became little more than a forlorn prayer, a remote echo of the manager’s rhetoric – it seems to me that the New Year brings a few green shoots. Just a few, mind.

Thing is, this is about survival within our own terms of reference. Barring some kind of miracle, the league table is almost irrelevant; none of the other results matter in the slightest unless we happen to starting winning and threaten to close the gap. Survival in that sense is an impossibility until we make it otherwise. But it’s very real in another sense: as a club and as a team, we can’t afford for history to repeat itself. Last time around, relegation left us with a demoralised, splintered squad that, even with the help of a somewhat fortuitous winning streak at the start of the following season, quickly fell apart altogether; for all that Vialli made massive Vega-sized mistakes, drastic surgery was required within only a few months of our return to the Football League. The question had to be answered.

This time, we’ve again fallen short of making the leap. The rest need not follow. And suddenly, there seems to be a little cause for optimism, more than just a wait for some new signings to pin our hopes upon. We still can’t win, of course, but this is a young, inexperienced Watford side and it’s doing all right. Some parts of it are doing more than all right: Adrian Mariappa, for example, has been simply terrific since his reintroduction into the right-back slot, occasional positional lapses more than balanced out by pace, control and tenacity. He looks quite a prospect.

Perhaps the same will soon be said of Tamas Priskin, whose two recent starts have provided proof of a hitherto elusive talent; he still drifts in and out, sure, but the in bits are increasingly impressive, suggesting that there’ll be plenty more to come if we learn to play to his strengths. Against Wigan, he prowled around in the space behind a high defensive line, looking confident and sharp and very much like, y’know, a striker. And there’s another surprise: it’s some considerable time since Anthony McNamee was all twinkling feet and dazzling future, but it appears as if the penny might finally have dropped. Perhaps he’s been keeping an eye on Ronaldo’s transformation: for three games, we’ve had a winger with workrate, energy, imagination…and end product.

Clutching at straws, I know. But why not? Watching young players find their feet is such a massive part of Watford Football Club, past and future. It won’t keep us in the Premiership…but for now, it’s better than meekly waiting for the inevitable and grumbling all the while. It’s resulted in rather more palatable football too, for we gain nothing by clouting the ball over the heads of the likes of McNamee, Priskin and Young, and plenty by playing it into their feet. Who knows, it might all come to nothing. But it might just bring us back in better shape some time soon.

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Comments»

1. Chris - 02/01/2007

I agree with your sentiment entirely. Aidy is already building for the future, not this season, but future seasons with a squad that is now incredibly youthful. It is fantastic to see them develop and, hopefully, blossom into the finished article.

I am not so sure about Mariappa though – he has time on his side but he still makes schoolboy errors and I think he is vulnerable to pace just the same as Lloyd. The Prem is a tough place to learn your trade and I hope he gets a run of games; if he is in and out of the team I would rather he went out on loan for some regular football at this stage of his career.

2. James Hewitt - 02/01/2007

Very well said, watford fans should take notice of this as it sums up our current situation very well. Times may be gloomy but there’s a glimmer for the short term but the beacon on the horizon is shining very bright.

3. Mark - 02/01/2007

In our position we will not get in too many experience players as new signings due to most people thinking we are dommed so I would like to see the young lads given a longer chance to pick up great experience and confidence at the highest level.

Bangura is better than Francis or Spring anyway in my view (for starters he makes an effort to get invovled) and Priskin was pretty good on Saturday before the abandonment.

Young and Bouazza have been class all season

4. Alan Ambler (thehornet35) - 03/01/2007

Well said IG, it is still a great time to be a ‘orn, Survival is still possible, the way i see it 8 wins will get us into survival territory, and if Priskin or someone can find a little bit of goal scoring touch there are 8 fixtures from our remaining games that we CAN win. But as Ian said, if we dont, hell we have developed far quicker than we wud have done with another season in the Championship, and maybe getting relegated means we get to keep Aidy abit longer…if we were mid-table now i think one or two clubs would be tempting him to leave.

5. bob - 04/01/2007

All good points, with one exception. As Chris points out, Mariappa makes some appalling decisions. Hopefully he’ll come good, and maybe it’s because he was out of position, but against Fulham he was a liablity.

6. Pat - 04/01/2007

I disagree with the comments about Mariappa – sure positional sense is developing, but he made some great tackles (one on Boa Morte in the box was superb) and – unlike Doyley – he is calm in possession and does tend to pass the ball to a yellow shirt (instead of humping it down the channel, or – more frequently -slicing it into touch) which I always think is a bonus! I think he will develop into a really good premiership player, and is doing fine even now.

7. Tops - 04/01/2007

I think some of you may be a bit surprised how much Aidy is willing to spend in this transfer window. He may not be able to sign the players he wants, but if he does, he will be gambling, believe me…


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