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Watford 2 Queens Park Rangers 4 (29/12/2007) 29/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five Thunks.

1- What a jolly splendid sunset over the Rous Stand.

2- I’ve bought a new pair of shoes.  They’re very nice.

3- I’m sleeping on the sofa again tonight, to accommodate visiting inlaws.  Will this earn enough brownie points to fund an away trip at some point in the future?  Will it buggery.

4- If you must think about football, try pitchinvasion.net.  It’s really very good.

5- Oh sodding hell.  QPR were shocking.  Absolutely shocking.  Worst defence we’ve seen all season.  Except Sheffield Wednesday (H) for twenty minutes.  And probably Gillingham.  Oh, and our lamentable nonsense in the first half.  Hope we don’t play anyone else with pace up front when Danny’s away with Nigeria.  For two thirds of the pitch we were OK.  But anyone, anyone is going to look comfortable when you give them a three-nil lead.


Watford 2 Cardiff City 2 (26/12/2007) 27/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five Thunks from Cardiff:

1- Revealing that, for all our expressed (and much demanded) intent to change our style of play, we only looked halfway convincing going forward when we brought the bruisers back on.

2- Much as they both improved second half, McAnuff and Smith’s first half performances were so inconsequential as to make you wonder why Ainsworth’s on the bench at all, if not to be employed in such circumstances.

3- We remain painfully easy to play against at Vicarage Road, as revealed by yet another committed but mediocre side.  A bit of guile in the transfer window, whether permanent or on loan, appears essential.

4- Why was I the only one with turkey sandwiches at lunchtime on Boxing Day?

5- Doris.  Biff, bang, pow, wallop.  Hurrah. Indeed, all three subs improved things, albeit this wasn’t hard.

Watford 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 (15/12/2007) 16/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Thunks from Plymouth

1- A keys-locked-in-car disaster necessitated my early departure.  Depressing that the passage of events in the last twenty minutes unravelled so transparently behind the scoreline.

2- Tamas isn’t quite working is he?  Although the fact that we persist speaks volumes about the lack of focus that a King/Ellington forward line would provoke.  Didn’t we miss Doris?

3- Lionel Ainsworth looks like fun.

4- Matt Jackson (again).  Manages to look convincingly like a ball-playing centre-half, strolling around confidently in possession, striking passes with aplomb.  All goes a bit pear-shaped when the ball leaves his foot.

5- Al Bangura. 

Al Bangura 11/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

I’m frankly too angry to be particularly coherent about this.  I have a ball of fury welling up inside that really needs a release… it’s probably a good job that I’m not playing football today, but I pity the bastard that cuts me up on the way home.

The Official Site today reports that Al Bangura has had his application for leave of stay in the UK turned down by the Asylum and Immigration authorities.

Let’s leave aside for the minute that he’s a professional footballer carving out a respectable career by those standards and earning a very decent living by anybody else’s.  I’m not sure that this is irrelevant to the issue – surely his gainful employment and contribution to the exchequer has to carry some weight.  But Al’s case stands up very well without it.

You have to ask yourself what sort of tin-pot “justice system” offers asylum to an individual as a minor, allows him to set up a life, start a family, and gain employment only to turf him out again when his carriage turns back into a pumpkin.  There is, of course, a need to vet such applications, but the decision having been made to grant him asylum at such an age, whether appropriate or not (and we’ve all heard enough of Al’s story to make our own judgments on that one) Al should surely be allowed to continue the life he has set up for himself.  Otherwise, all the Home Office does in offering such temporary asylum is breed instability – having escaped Sierra Leone once, whatever the circumstances, to expect Bangura to spend a few years in limbo before being sent back again is plainly absurd.

We are lead to believe that an appeal against the decision is planned; the Official Site doesn’t sound overwhelmingly positive with regard to the chances of the appeal’s  success.  If the worst comes to the worst, the least we can do is kick up such an almighty stink about the issue that people actually start to look at our asylum laws through something other than the Daily Mail’s bigoted goggles.

Not that this will help Al Bangura.

Stoke City 0 Watford 0 (09/12/2007) 09/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from my sitting room…

1- Four points from two iffy-looking away trips on the back of stinking form ain’t bad.

2- Matt Jackson.  If you were going to play him, a front line with no pace were probably the right opposition.  Our defence looked sounder than it has for a while, mind.

3- Jobi is trying rather too hard.

4- Stephen Wright is one ugly bastard.

5- Tony Pulis.  Prods the ball away to prevent a quick throw, then objects to where it’s consequently taken from. I’m sure his mother must love him, but only after a couple of sherries.

Colchester United 2 Watford 3 (04/12/2007) 05/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from Colchester:

1- If you’re going to win 3-2, that’s the way to do it.  All the evening missed in terms of symbolism was Malky wandering around the pitch with a placard proclaiming “The Corner is About To Be Turned” as Mart Poom was substituted.

2- Speaking of whom, whether the nervousness of the defence in front of the Estonian was due to knowledge of an existing injury to the keeper, general lack of confidence in their custodian, lack of organisation from the man between the sticks or simply utterly inept defending, there wasn’t the slightest suggestion of it once Richard Lee came on.

3- Lee Williamson.  Who’d have thought it possible?  Bossed the midfield from start to finish. Terrific.

4- Lloydy, in another splendid performance, was through on goal having snarled into dispossessing Mark Yeates in a vulnerable position.  Through on goal !  And he squared it!  SHOOT, man!

5- It should be obligatory to watch one match a season on a ten-step deep terrace half an inch from the touchline in a ground which looks (to part-quote Colchester-supporting Hal Berstram) as if a load of people turned up and pitched tents around a field, eventually decided to stay and built gazebos and ended up calling it a football ground for a laugh. Colchester really need their move next summer, and really need to stay in the division to glean maximum benefit from it, but I won’t half miss grounds like this.

Ill Fitting Fixtures 03/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Now admittedly, in the grand scheme of things, there are more important concerns that one could spend one’s time getting agitated over.  And even within the world of football in general and Watford in particular, our current wobbles probably warrant more attention.

 Nonetheless, as a paying customer it’s my prerogative to get wound up about what I choose to get wound up about, and the mathematician in me does like a balanced fixture list.

It’s been a source of modest disquiet for several seasons that the “fixtures computer” has appeared unable to concoct a schedule that hasn’t seen us facing the same opponents twice in short succession in mid-season (from last season backwards… Liverpool (21 days apart), Leicester (38),  Derby (21), Forest (28), Ipswich (27) and so on).

I guess it’s not a big deal… but reasonably well spaced fixtures just feels fairer.  One is less likely to come up against a team twice during the same run of form, or injury crisis – on either side.

But this season, for the first time I think, we have a double whammy.  Watford travel to Colchester tomorrow night a mere 24 days after an exhilarating 2-2 draw with the same opponents at Vicarage Road.  And lo… come the start of 2008 we face Charlton Athletic twice within 28 days.

The fixtures this mid-week are the exact reverse of those of three and a half weeks ago, similarly the fixture lists when we play Charlton.  So I’m struggling to justify this bizarre imbalance.  When the media occasionally focuses on the fixture list (normally during the mid-june post-season pre-transfer window fast) we’re told, in a rather patronising fashion,  that there’s an awful lot more to the fixture list than meets the eye… avoiding rivals playing at home on the same day irrespective of division, policing requirements and so forth.

But given that on two of the four dates in question there were/are no Premiership games scheduled at all, and thus far less to clash with, it’s difficult to understand why one of the Colchester “fixture blocks” couldn’t have been switched with one of the Charlton “fixture” blocks at no great cost, resulting in the two pairs of fixtures being much farther apart.  If the Sheffield derbies, which coincide with the Charlton games, need to be on a Saturday then either could surely have been switched with the weekend fixtures of three weeks ago.

Quite apart from which… if it’s such a horrific logistical impossibility to come up with a balanced fixture list then one wonders how the Germans manage it – with almost as many fixtures spread over a larger country and an international break to boot – the second half of their season is an exact reverse of the first.

And to add insult to injury (and not that I’ve got an axe to grind or anything) the football authorities continue to claim Intellectual Property Rights over the fixture list. As if a blind gibbon with a broken crayon and a couple of marbles couldn’t do a better job…

Watford 1 Bristol City 2 (01/12/2007) 02/12/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from Bristol:

1- A whole lot better than Tuesday, for starters, but all the more frustrating that the result was the same – we didn’t half look brittle defensively throughout, however tidy some of our attacking play.

2- I’ve never seen Marlon make such bad decisions – in his lean spells in the past, his contribution has always been positive.  It’s surprising that seven goals in eight games have mutated into yesterday’s lack of belief so quickly.

3- John Joe is going to be a bit of a player.

4- Even after nine years apart in the league, Bristol City are still really annoying.

5- We have a young and relatively inexperienced manager who, for the first time in his tenure, is having to manage expectation – we are no longer underdogs.  The same goes for most of the team, few of whom have table-top experience.  Nobody likes losing, but let’s have a bit of patience… it’s perhaps fortunate, ironically, that our next two games are away from home in front of traditionally more positive support.