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School Report 17/05/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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As the season ends, and to distract ourselves from other things by considering the details that we’d rather be concentrating on, a review of the playing squad…

To begin at the back; doesn’t the debate about the merits of the unknown from Stoke City via Manchester United that Betty had shoved into the first team seem a long time ago?  And just how much more uncomfortable could this season have been without Ben Foster, whose one or two high-profile mistakes shouldn’t detract from a quite extraordinary season.  A good shot-stopper, strong on crosses, ridiculously accurate, consistent distribution, it’s only his decision making that very occasionally lets him down.  Nonetheless, the smart money is on him being United’s first choice by the end of next season, particularly given Van der Sar’s late-season form.

And whither Richard Lee?  Obviously a decent keeper, but he never seemed likely to be the man to take on the mantle of first choice next season even before Betty’s recent citing of a new stopper as his top priority.  Much as his readmission to the fold as Foster’s regular back-up was unexpected following his unequivocal rejection at the start of last season, a complete about turn from his manager was never likely; Richard’s distribution just isn’t strong enough for Betty, one suspects, despite recent public assurances that Richard’s still “part of the plan”.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Richard finally move on in the summer, and good luck to him, with the still bigged-up but rarely seen Scott Loach waiting in the wings.

As for “the veteran”, Alec Chamberlain’s unexpected appearance against Newcastle was his last in a Watford shirt, more than a decade after he arrived as short-term backup for Kevin Miller.  What a tremendous bloke to have had in the squad for that long, firmly etched into Watford folklore and fortunately sticking around in a coaching capacity for a while yet.

Moving forward to the back four, and to right-back, where a number of contenders jostle for position, none of whom leave you totally convinced.  Adrian Mariappa has had as good a season as anybody and looks particularly comfortable coming forward, but you don’t need to be told that he’s played most of his football in the centre.  A good number of goals and chances have resulted from him drifting infield and leaving the left flank open… a great prospect, but I’m not convinced it’ll be at right back. 

Fundamental questions, meanwhile, surround the future of the other two contenders;  quite what does one do with Lloyd Doyley, for example?  Such a committed defender, an excellent man-marker, but his distribution continues to be haphazard at best and he’ll be disappointed with how this season has gone for him personally; I expected him to be one to nail down a position.  Instead, it’s not quite clear where he’s best accommodated… except perhaps in the emergency man-marking functional role that Martin Keown fulfilled in his final days at Arsenal.  Except Keown was in his late thirties, not 24. 

And then there’s James Chambers, one of the fittest members of the squad and probably good enough at the level we’re going back to and yet… defensively he’s not as strong as either of the other two, and one wonders if he might suffer from being a versatile player in a squad full of versatile players without being quite strong enough in any one position.  His performance on the right of midfield at Goodison Park on the opening day, where he reached the byline several times only to look for an alternative to putting a ball into the box, certainly seemed to put pay to his career as a winger.

Also, somewhere in the background, is Junior Osborne who suffered a knee ligament injury at the end of last season, made a brief return to the reserves in October and hasn’t been mentioned since…

At left back, on the other hand, there is surely no such dilemma.  You’d have got very long odds on this last summer, but Jordan Stewart looks to be one of very few names nailed on for next season’s first choice eleven.  His crossing could still be a little more dependable – although he’s probably as good as we’ve got in the squad in that respect, surely an area to address in the summer – but the lapses of concentration that seemed to crop up once a game or so in the play-off season were all but eradicated this time around, and he’s been one of the most dependable members of the team. 

Given which, Chris Powell’s future at Vicarage Road is probably questionable;  he came in probably expecting to be first choice at left back given that in his Premiership experience he had something which nobody else in the squad could really boast.  Whilst he’s done a sound enough job when called upon, he looked very rusty when coming back in for an injured Stewart early in 2007, and those knees aren’t going to get any younger – Powell turns 38 in September. 

In the background meanwhile is Jordan Parkes, whose debut against Accrington wasn’t flawless but contained plenty of positive pointers.  He was born in 1989 for Christ’s sake, by which time Powell was already two years into his first professional contract.

At centreback, three senior pros who are all plenty good enough for Div 2, but who have all been linked with moves away in the summer.  Perhaps the loudest such whisperings concern Danny Shittu, signed from QPR last summer when West Brom had offered him a place in what was probably a stronger squad, but a division lower.  Shittu’s physical attributes are incomparable – built like an articulated lorry and with a decent turn of pace to boot.  When it comes down to a physical battle, Dan’s going to see off anybody. Thing is, such is his superiority in this department, and such has been his professional experience prior to this season, he has never really had to learn how to defend, and he’s been caught out by clever movement this season more often than anyone would have liked.  Quite to what extent the reported interest of Celtic, West Ham, Man City and Fulham is in the imagination of his agent remains to be seen.

Jay DeMerit‘s season has been stronger, and the more so for the continued upward trajectory of the American’s performances.  It’s only a couple of years ago that DeMerit’s obvious determination, bravery and physical prowess were regularly let down by overenthusiasm, inexperience and regular rushes of blood.  This season he has looked as much a top-flight defender as anyone in our squad, even if his latter-season form has been a little less eye-catching.

Clarke Carlisle, meanwhile, came back into the side after a long injury absence against Pompey (via a loan spell with our friends from up the motorway) and immediately started shouting.  That on its own was reason to welcome him back, since our defence had missed a vocal leader for most of the season;  Carlisle, like Marlon King, will benefit from pre-season, he looked a little ropey on occasions and resorted to raw brutality to compensate more than once, but assuming that the injury is behind him Clarke is a guy you’d hope we’ll hang on to.

The leadership we’d had in the defence earlier in the season had largely come from Malky Mackay,who seemed to informally retire from the playing staff at roughly the same time as he took on a coaching role.  Great that he played in the Premiership, finally, it seems implausible that he was only in the first team for eighteen months.  We’ll miss his nous at the back next term – he was a nasty bastard, but he was our nasty bastard, for a short time at any rate.

Finally Cedric Avinel, who had a catastrophic debut at Reading where the Rs’ attack flowed through him like water through a crack in a dam.  How he recovers from that setback will be a test of his character, but he did enough in one-on-ones with Lita, including one mercilessly precise tackle that took the ball and left his opponent on his backside, to suggest that there’s something to work with there.

Moving forward into midfield, and in central positions we are certainly high on numbers. First choice incumbents for much of this season have been skipper Gavin Mahon and summer signing Damien Francis. Mahon’s season fluctuated as much as anyone’s; before Christmas he was arguably our most consistent and significant outfield player, afterwards his form dropped quite alarmingly. This invited attention from a larger than average body of critics in the stands who don’t seem to have gotten over Gav’s utility-man boo-boy period in 2003 and take any opportunity to have a pop, kind of ignoring both the fact that plenty of others were having a dodgy time of it also, and the rather large number of occasions, POTY awards and promotion winning captaincies notwithstanding, when Mahon has proven his value. His glorious strike against Pompey, surely a goal of the season had it come a week earlier before polls opened, was as close to “up yours” as he could probably have gotten away with. Amen to that.

That Francis has been a bit of a let-down is, one would suspect, a rather uncontroversial comment. Had he remained fit, it would have been interesting to see whether he stuck around – given Betty’s rather direct statements of disappointment , latter improvement or otherwise – and quite who would have signed him after two season’s of minimal impact at the foot of the Premiership. Francis did pick up the injury, however, and if he can overcome his ligament problem early enough in the season I fancy we might see the best of him – not just because of the drop in standard, but also because Marlon haring around in front of him and pulling defences about ought to give him the spaces to attack that our rather less mobile forward line really hasn’t manufactured this season.

Another on the injury list is Gareth Williams, who looked rather tidy on the odd occasion when he was used, and certainly offered something different to what we currently have in central positions. The ploy of Williams sitting in front of the defence at the back of a five-man diamond with Francis pushing up certainly merited further experimentation – not for a while though, alas.

Al Bangura meanwhile has been a bit of a disappointment this term after his colossal, charismatic impact in the promotion season as the cork to block up the midfield when such was required. He’s shown enough in the last few games to suggest that we’ll be persevering with him for the moment, but he hasn’t pushed on as one might have hoped. And he still jumps into tackles…

Amongst the new recruits Lee Williamson has also been used sparingly, and in both wide and central positions. He certainly doesn’t lack for tenacity and energy; the few who made the glum trip to Bramall Lane will certainly be sold on him as one of the good guys. As the list of midfielders grows, however, it’s a question of quite how we use him…

Other names still knocking around the squad may not be doing so for much longer. Toumani Diagouraga has never made the impact at first team level that his fabled performances for the youth team, allegedly alerting
Chelsea, once suggested, and had a low-profile loan at Rotherham United this season. Dominic Blizzard, meanwhile, whose aesthetically challenged but furiously effective contributions to the first half of last season split the support, has never threatened to re-establish himself after his illness and looks like rejoining his mentor David Hockaday at Franchise on a full-time basis. Which I’d say is a bit of a shame. Ben Gill, meanwhile, who never really looked like imposing himself on the senior squad, has already joined John Ward’s Cheltenham.

Two of the January recruits have been employed both in central and wide roles; Johan Cavalli has lots of some things and not very much of others… touch, tenacity and personality coming in the former list, height and pace in the latter. Whether or not the former sufficiently tip the balance remains to be seen, but we’re short of folk who can put a decent ball into the box as it stands; with Cavalli contracted until the end of next season, we are likely to see how the Corsican copes with the Championship at some point. Douglas Rinaldi, by contrast, is kinda good at most things without really being convincing enough at anything. Quite mobile, but not quick enough to be a winger. Can tackle, but not tenacious enough to be a destroyer. A good touch, but doesn’t impose himself enough to run the midfield. In an area high on numbers – and players without a clear role – Rinaldi might be on his way, one suspects.

We are far less well catered for in wide positions. Twice this season we gambled on players to fill a problem position as transfer deadlines drew in; with the return of right-winger Chris Eagles to Manchester United and the earlier departure of Paul Devlin, Tommy Smith was the one that worked and on impact to date, if one excludes the returning Foster, has arguably been the signing of the season. He took his time to get going, and to a certain extent still carries the burden of not obviously belonging anywhere (from a striker who can’t really shoot, he has become a winger who can’t really cross). Nonetheless his quick feet, heart and positiveness have been more effective than many must have predicted, and we’ve missed him when he’s been unavailable.

On the left, Hameur Bouazza is probably our senior left-winger – but like Smith, he’s much more comfortable cutting in towards goal than lobbing balls into the box.  His turnaround this season is eclipsed only by Jordan Stewart’s; this is a guy who started just three league games for us last season remember, albeit his campaign was curtailed by injury.  This campaign he has been aggressive, purposeful… and at his best, utterly irrepressible.  Kolo Touré is one apparently top defender who Hameur made look very silly indeed.

There are still rough edges to Hameur’s game – his decision making isn’t always the best, his shooting a bit hit-and-miss (but boy are you in trouble if he’s pointing the right way…) and he does have the odd very off game, but his runner-up spot in the POTY awards couldn’t have been predicted twelve months ago.  Bouazza is arguably the player we’ll have the biggest job holding onto over the summer.

But beyond those two, we’re kinda struggling.  The other two wingers in the squad both look to be on their way out – Anthony McNamee has never been able to impose involve himself sufficiently on a game on a regular basis, and much as Betty coaxed more assertive displays out of him it was never quite enough.  One suspects that he might benefit from a move – but his period at Crewe was hardly devastating.  Albert Jarrett meanwhile looked an odd one last summer – he did manage twenty minutes of Premiership football at Bolton, but his swift disappearance to Franchise confirmed whose idea he was.

Otherwise we’re looking at Alex Campana, unused this season after making his debut last term, or more naturally central midfielders (or fullbacks) to cover the wide roles.  Surely a recruitment priority.

Up front, as in central midfield, we’re not short on numbers but it’s not altogether clear who the first choice pairing will be.  Marlon King, one would hope, will still be around to lead the line;  whilst he has inevitably returned from injury not looking quite as trim and sprightly he nonetheless made an instant difference to our attacking threat.  Whilst it’s true that he hadn’t quite set the world alight before his injury, it’s undeniable that our attacking play was an awful lot more potent with him in the side.  Marlon in full flow, possibly due to his powerful shoulders, leaves one with the impression that we have a big cat, a lion or a tiger, up front… there’s a risk, of course, that someone will take a punt on him, but unless he decides he wants out I’d expect him to be around in August.  In our current state we’re going to need a massive offer to consider selling, and such is unlikely to be forthcoming until January at the earliest in the light of his injury problems this season.

Marlon’s strike partner of choice last term was Darius Henderson. Doris, self-evidently, didn’t make the same impact this season but this was to a large degree not his own doing.  Always quite a functional cog in the team, being deprived of aerial supply first by the loss of Chris Eagles, then by Marlon’s injury forcing Ashley Young centrally, then by Young being sold altogether was always going to limit his effectiveness.  Throughout all of it – and he’s had some painfully irrelevant games along the way – there’s been no faulting Doris’ endeavour, and his penalty at West Ham is up there alongside Hameur’s goal at Villa Park as “moment of the season”… but if we don’t sign someone who can cross the ball reliably then we might as well let Doris move on.  Which would be a shame…

Tamas Priskin meanwhile is the very definition of “enigmatic”.  So very good at some things, so very bad at others… but we’ve seen enough of the former to be curious, even excited at how this lad will develop.  The smart money might be on Tamas being Marlon’s first choice sidekick come the new campaign – but at any rate, for a teenage Hungarian not speaking English to come over here and improve at the rate he has does a lot to commend him.

Less impressive all round has been Steve Kabba; like Tommy Smith, signed as a bit of a gamble in a last-gasp attempt to fill a hole as a transfer window closed it didn’t look a bad punt at the time.  Kabba has scored goals, of course, and an injury or two had pulled him from United’s first team at inopportune moments.  You won’t need me to tell you that it hasn’t worked… Kabba hasn’t scored a league goal since 2005 and has only occasionally looked like doing so since his arrival.  He hasn’t been a complete waste of space, but a refusal to chase, harry, take a chance or take his chances was never going to work in this Watford team, whilst his lack of acknowledgement from his teammates after delicately setting Tamas Priskin up against Pompey spoke volumes.  His agent was trying to get him a summer move within a month of his arrival, and it would be better for all concerned if this were achieved quickly.

Will Hoskins meanwhile looked like a bit of a coup when we signed him in January, apparently in the face of no small competition.  He’s certainly got something about him but his rare outings have seen him flounder a little, not being quite sure of his role or of how to cope with the attentions of a Premiership defence.  He’s one of several who will benefit from being able to find their feet in a more forgiving environment.

Coming up on the rails, Moses Ashikodi looks a bit of a wild card in more ways than one and you’d like him on the bench at least just to liven up one of those many games when nothing’s really happening.  That he has talent is beyond dispute, as numerous impudent touches in his few outings for us and a quite ridiculous goal against Oldham when on loan at Bradford demonstrate… but six yellow cards in eleven games this season tells its own story.  A challenge for Mr.Boothroyd, one suspects.

Meanwhile it was good to see Theo Robinson back in the picture against Newcastle, even if he does have an awful lot to do to get a look in.  Of our other young striker, we can but wonder…  a Jamaican call-up and new contract last summer, but nothing has been heard of Joel Grant since his loan at Aldershot before Christmas, and tellingly his name has vanished from the roster on the Official Site.  Meanwhile, Fulham’s Official Site lists a “trialist” in Ray Lewington’s reserve side against Chelsea… who Chelsea’s site names as one Joel Grant…  another shame, I thought he had something, but he’d have a lot to do to get a look-in here at the moment particularly if Betty brings in another striker.

Looking at it from the top, Betty’s stated priorities seem about right; a keeper and a winger, and probably a fullback and maybe a striker if Kabba’s on his way.  We’re certainly stronger in terms of numbers than we were when we went up, but we don’t have anyone who can create a chance in the way that Young could – and nor is it possible to name more than maybe four of, injuries permitting, next season’s starting line-up.  Could be an interesting summer…

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Comments»

1. Phil S - 17/05/2007

We definitely need another decent striker to challenge Tamas Priskin’s place, and i believe that another creative midfield player would be a useful addition. Another goalkeeper is obviously priority (I believe Richard Lee will leave in the summer) and apparently we have been linked with Ipswich Town’s Shane Supple???

2. Mark - 17/05/2007

Firstly I’ll start with the 2 lads out long term and say its a shame Williams is injured as I think he was a major part of Aidy’s plans to play a more stylish brand of football but not so Francis who has been a real disappointment this season.

Doug R and Williamson are midfielders who also like to play football I think (yes typo) and Hoskins has to be given a chance I guess as he is young/raw talent.

Kabba as we know looks so lazy its unture and must be going.

I think King (if he stays),Henderson and Priskin (providin we play to his strengths) will all score in the Championship whilst we know Shittu,DeMerit (IF staying) and Carlisle are good enough defenders for the Championship with Doyley,Chambers etc as cover.

Smith and Bouazza (Please stay Hamuer!) will be top Championship players also I reckon.

Need a goalie and extra quality in certain areas though so all is not perfect.

I am hopeful we will at least push for the play-offs.

3. Apperley 'Orn - 17/05/2007

Can’t argue with any of that. This summer, assuming we have any money left after the board have blown the lion’s share on ridiculous legal proceedings, will be a real test of Betty’s transfer market skills.

I can’t really think of a full back that I would want, other than Robbo (which aint gonna happen unless WBA lose to Derby, and probably still not anyway). With the way Jordan Stewart has performed recently, it would be very harsh on him to displace him with a new signing – he is one of the few major plusses from this season for me.

Jobi McAnuff would be a good one to get for the wing, IMO the closest we could get to a direct replacement for Ash, my only concern being that his strike rate should be better.

Top of the wanted list for me though has to be Rob Earnshaw. Amazingly, he is still only 26 years old. I remember, years ago when I lived in Wales, he was banging goals in at a seemingly astonishing rate for Cardiff City. He has scored goals wherever he has played, including the international stage. I can’t help but feel he would be the perfect foil for Marlon, assuming that we can vary our tactics to accommodate a front line without an obvious target man. Norwich have run out of parachute money now, so I assume his sale is imminent.

Still, we shall see. At least I will be viewing the coming season with a modicum of optimism. Real football for real fans – whatever happened to all that?

4. Matt Rowson - 17/05/2007

I’d go for Billy Jones at Crewe… can play anywhere across the back or as a holding midfielder, 125 league starts but just turned 20. There’ll be plenty after him, mind.

Also quite like the Harewood rumour, but again we’ll do well to get him.

5. Adam J - 18/05/2007

This reminds me how much I miss BSaD. Oh my, the memories are flooding back. I think I’ll go have a quick check. Thank Luther it’s still there…

6. Aled - 18/05/2007

Brilliant news King and Big Al are staying… I’ve seen rumours of us getting the new Polish Goalie Arsenal have signed – literally the new Ben Foster. I’m happy with the defence assuming we can keep hold of them, think its time for Doyley to move on though just don’t think he’s good enough. Full back cover defintiely needed.

McAnuff would be the perfect signing, we need wing options on both sides really. Or I like the look of Nathan Dyer at Soton seeing as how they’re not going up. Earnshaw or Harewood would make me very happy indeed…

7. MikeP - 19/05/2007

From what I saw of Nathan Dyer he was just a big lump of speed and little else. Mind you, that’s what most people thought of Gabriel Agbonlahor, and look how that turned out.

I’d agree with the three of the suggestions here. Billy Jones is known to be an excellent talent, is young *and* experienced, can plug in anywhere and is part of a Crewe side going nowhere. Therefore he hopefully wouldn’t be too expensive and in League One isn’t receiving the attention he might get in the Championship. Maybe out of contract too? Heard that although I doubt it’s true. Still, we’d have to pay compensation.

I like the idea of Earnshaw. I suspect though, that if Norwich were to throw in the towell, admit that they’re rubbish and no longer have parachutes, we’d not be the most interesting of scavangers. I do think we could do with another frontline striker who’s going to score consistently, and Earnshaw is the most obvious. Thing is, you’d then have Henderson, King, ANother, Priskin, Ashikodi and Hoskins competing for two positions. Plus Robinson, although I suspect he’ll get a couple of loan spells. But anyway, if only we’d signed one young striker in January, it’d be a more balanced strike force and easier to keep happy. Huh, just realised I forgot about Kabba. Burnley destined.

McAnuff is the other one. Part of a parachute-less Palace, going nowhere under Peter Taylor. He gets to the by-line, is in a different mould to Bouazza and Francis, and can play on both wings.

Goalkeeper is the other obvious thing, although I can’t think of any candidates that make me say “Wow!” Myhill and that Hartlepool chap are the names that are popping up. Personally I wouldn’t mind if we started with Lee and Loach on the bench (Loach worries aside). Lee’s made a few mistakes at Premiership level, but also had some excellent performances (Man City A) that made you feel a bit sorry that he had Ben Foster ahead of him. He’s a good Championship keeper. Still, moot point as Boothroyd’s going to get a keeper.

Not sure we need a full-back, the multitude of options at right-back and the newly-competent Stewart are good enough for the Championship. Parkes can do the Powell job. I’d personally like to see an investment in a high-quality central midfielder, a Francis-but-much-better. It’d be nice to really stamp on games down in the Championship. Again, shame the over investment in midfielders in January made that something of a difficult prospect, albeit two of them are injured. I’d feel guilty letting go any of the current bunch (Francis excluded) after they’ve all been hurled in the maelstrom of an already relegated side.

Anyway, my more than 2 cents.

8. MikeP - 19/05/2007

I meant McAnuff is a different mould to Bouazza and SMITH. 2:24am, go to bed Mike.

9. Matt Rowson - 19/05/2007

Agree about Dyer Mike. Yes, Jones is out of contract, he’s refused to discuss a new one with Crewe so he’s off somewhere.

10. Esp - 20/05/2007

Being a former Berko resident and therefore someone who made regular sightings of Smudger in Hemel and Berko I thought your “…. a striker who can’t really shoot, he has become a winger who can’t really cross” was a tad harsh about Tommy Smith Matt!
However I can’t argue with your end of term reports on most of the opthers and I fear you are correct in your summation that Richie Lee does not figure in the gaffers’ plans.
I just wonder how bloomin good he would have been at the end of 2006/7 if he had actually been our first choice keeper?
As many have alluded to during the season on BHaPPY and on WML I think a goalie (for the reasons above); a striker in the “poaching” mode of a Helguson, a Robisonesque left back plus a creative, thinking, experienced midfielder are absolutely essential for next season and it would be very patronising of me to suggest that Aidy and Keith Berko think otherwise!

11. Anders - 21/05/2007

Agree with most of your points Matt. Williamson looks like a coup to me and I’m sure he will grab a place somewhere in midfield. If given the chance I believe Priskin could be a 15 goals+ forward next year. I also think Kabba could be more useful than some of you seem to think. For the first time in a long time we look rather solid up front.
A creative wide player is very much needed and I think we could do worse than to bring back Chris Eagles, who I’ve always liked.

12. Apperley 'Orn - 21/05/2007

You could well be right about Priskin Anders, but can we afford to sit back and see what happens there, hoping that the drop in division will give him enough room and time to produce the goods? We really need to hit the ground running in August.

I still think we need a proven goalscorer at this level, preferably not a target man like Doris (even though I think he has been great this year despite the lack of goals) but someone who can run at defences and feed off Marlon’s classy touches. Earnshaw or someone of his ilk it has to be for me. Kabba just hasn’t got the heart for the fight – if he is still around next season I will be very surprised.

Agree totally about Eagles. He seems to have matured since his loan spell at NEC Nijiwotsit, and I have liked what little I have seen of him lately. He would settle very quickly as he knows the set up.

13. Al - 21/05/2007

Is Devon White still available?????

14. RichieJ - 21/05/2007

i just read that Tomasz Radzinski has been released and maybe coming ourway – certainly experienced, busy round the box and could be good with marlon?!

15. PJ - 22/05/2007

Watford will get the new Arsenal goalie from Poland on loan. Alec Chamberlain went to Poland recently to watch him

16. RB - 22/05/2007

Shame the goalie from Poland knows nothing about that, he’s denied all knowledge or interest in such a move in the Polish media.

17. IP - 22/05/2007

I’ll have a go at naming the first starting eleven of next season:

GK – TBC (have to agree that AB clearly has reservations on Lee and will make a signing here that will be first choice)
RB – Mariappa
CB – Carlisle
CB – DeMerit
LB – Stewart
RW – Smith (but could be Williamson)
CM – Mahon
CM – Rinaldi
LW – Bouazza
CF – King
CF – Priskin (but could be Hendo)

Suspect McNamee and Doyley could be shown the door yet, and to be honest I won’t lose any sleep if Shittu went elsewhere. Great physical specimen but we need a defender like Carlisle to bring the ball forward and set a move going, not crash it into the vegetables in the allotments behind the Rookery. And let’s hope Kabba moves on – his body language says it all……

18. Kris - 23/05/2007

Great run-down of the squad Matt – of course we now know that Dom, Al, Powell and Grant are gone, that Dougie has been given a 2 year contract and that – apparently – we’re signing Luis Figo on loan for 5 months. For those of you signed on at wfcforums.com (http://wfcforums.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=305&d=1179925679). For the rest – apparently Figo is signing for MLS club Chcago Fire owned by a friend of Elton’s. To get his fitness up before getting there he’ll join us on loan – financed by Elton. I don’t really know how to react to that if it’s true.

19. Matt Rowson - 23/05/2007

Creative idea; unfortunately the “newspaper report” suggests that Figo was to join us last January, whilst reporting that we’d already been relegated. Figo is joining Al-Ittihad, as widely publicised and confirmed yesterday (http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/22052007/58/serie-figo-insistent-saudi.html) .

Perhaps sloppiest of all, are we really supposed to believe that Soccer got top billing on the back page of the Chicago Tribune…?

Nice try though.

20. Kris - 23/05/2007

Matt – don’t shoot the messenger ;o) – but of course you’re right. It is a poor gag – still got hearts pumping on wfcforums though.

21. Stuart - 24/05/2007

Hearts pumping on wfcforums eh? It was rumbled after about 2 mins!

So what does everybody think of the Matt Jackson signing then? Malky Mark II anybody. Still he might be useful just like Malky was and decent backup for DeMerit and dare I say it Shittu if he stays.


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