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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.


1. Peter Lee - 02/12/2007

Point 5 is key but should not distract us from some of the very real problems in the side. As I see it they are:

1) Stewart – totally lost his positional sense. Stood and gawped as Showunmi headed in. Needs competition for place.
2) Shittu much the same as Stewart but goals have saved him from harshest criticism.
3) Williamson/Mahon. One runs like a headless chicken, one can’t run at all. We always seem to be concedeing ground and trying to defend the 18-yard line.
4) Hendo. Does what he does well but seems to have totally lost the ability to read Marlon or Tommy’s play and vice versa.
5) Marlon. Calm down son. Play the easy pass sometimes.
6) Ellington. For a devout man he seems to have upset the gods.
7) Left midfield, McAnuff tried hard but is very right footed.
8) The fans, too quiet and to swift to complain.

Having said that there are some small chinks of light:
1) Doyley. Plays with pride and passion every time.
2) We are still top.

2. Back from Hammerau - 02/12/2007

One thunk –
We have an experienced manager who finds himself in an unaccustomed position and a team for whom this is also an unaccustomed position, but he has an experienced “assistant” who’s used to dealing with expectation.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Time for Keith Burkinshaw to earn his wages.

3. Sequel - 02/12/2007

1) Gavin, not everyone in the Main Stand hates you (my son’s on your side as well)
2) Is The Vic now a finishing school for ex-Sunday League refs?
3) Chin up, Doris

4. Esp - 02/12/2007

1) City had obviously done their homework on us, no surprise there but they did seem to be first to every ball and their passing game was superior. That said we did have sporadic spells of domination and in ther second half I felt we had more possession. I felt that we weren’t that much better than Tuesday though so i would disagree on that one. we played a better team though and that was the difference. We were brittle defensively Matt and by that I hope you mean EVERYWHERE on the pitch. The midfielders did not help out enough

2) I think Maisie could have made better decisions than Marlon in similar positions. he does seem to be a “confidence” player and I will nick your word from point 1. Marlon’s confidence is inexplicably brittle at the moment and his “shoot on sight” policy is wasteful. Darius is horribly inconsistent but was man-marked out of this match

3) I am a fan of JJ and he didn’t deserve the criticism levelled at him from some quarters after his earlier games. He will be better than Blizzard and many other WFC players who have played in his position(s). We are also desperate for midfield goal scorers whilst our strikers are misfiring or, to put it another way, not getting the support (at feet) or decent crosses from the flanks

4- Your Bristol City point is spot on but they do have a good manager; Taylor made of course 🙂

5- Patience is a virtue and of course Aidy deserves our loyalty but as a fully paid up STH and loyal supporter i reserve the right to picka better team than Aidy and occasionally say so in public!
Of course we have over achieved in the last 3 years and Aidy deserved his run of luck at the beginning of the season. he will certainly earn his stripes this season and I hope he is another Cloughie; a young coach who can challenge the big guns with limited resources, a limited budget and an unfashionable club. Colchester away will be a great test. Ellington for starters please (you know my views on Macca!)

5. Pete B - 02/12/2007

Nine years? Blimey….

Some things don’t change though. It’s *the* most frustrating thing being a football fan…

Now… can I be bothered to go to Stoke at some ridiculous time next week?

6. Mick G. - 02/12/2007

Second half:
Why the heck did McAnuff elect to dive in the box when it was easier to square the ball?
How many chances did Marlon waste? Colleagues in shooting positions were screaming for a pass only to watch the ball hit the side netting (twice) or balloon over.
Surely time for Ellington to get a start.
And what a difference J-J made when he came on!

7. Meldrew - 02/12/2007

Williamson – worst Watford midfielder since Talboys.

8. nick - 02/12/2007

Thanks for reminding everyone that despite the result this was far better than Tuesday. Improvement is rarely instant but gradual so this was a step up from the depths.

The Duke has lost his mojo man – we need to help him get it back. Forget the fee, this man needs some love. I could have cried for him when he ran the ball out of play. You can see he desperately wants to impress. Not helped it has to be said by spending another 10 minutes stripped for action before Aidy finally removed a worn-out Hendo. Come-on Aidy!

9. Mick G. - 02/12/2007

Mega worrying thought – Gareth Southgate will surely get the push from Boro in the next couple of weeks.
If we don’t pick up a few points in the next three/four matches,might Aidy be tempted to join Adam Johnson up north?

10. Holly - 02/12/2007

Poom – Made two great saves in 1st half. Kicking dodgy. could off his line a little more confidently, could of come for cross for 1st goal, on the whole did ok

Stewart – needs competition, playing like someone who knows he is moving on (Jan or end of season). Dont know who’ll want him ??

Doyley – Player of season so far, however still questions re: technical ability

Shittu – defensively naive, looks a little uncontrollable at times

Demerit – a rock, just annoys me that we sold carlisle, cos Jays a bloody good defender, but not a team leader, Carlisle and Jay would be perfect now

Mahon – legs gone, defends too deep (at managers request ???). I am not a big Mahon fan, however I think the manager is doing the wrong thing keep taking the captain off, doesnt look good or intall confidence, Betty should have the balls to give captaincy to someone else … (King, Demerit or even Stewart who played his best when captain last year, or bloody Carlisle if he were still here aaagggghhhh)

Williamson – not the same player since red card at Scunny. Runs, runs, runs, but little time on ball or creativity.

Smith – looked off the pace, not a single cross in match, never gets into scoring positions, reached his level (at times can be brilliant, those times are limited)

Mcanuff – a few good crosses in 1st half, but not the player seen in the past, again played out of position, he is right footed

King – greedy yesterday, 4 shots when at acute angle, should have passed, seemed to lack confidence in those around him (maybe justified ??)

Henderson – not a single effort at goal, teams have sussed him out, just war with him and he’s out of game. I did feel he was just starting to win the physical battle when subbed. lacks any real quality

O’Toole – after watching him reserves a few times, i just thought another also ran, but have been hugely impressed with him, both home and away, all action

Ellington – looks unfit, off the pace, lacking confidence, what have they been doing in training with him for the 12 weeks he’s been at club, forget rammadan, that finished a month ago. £3.5M and £20K a week, bloody hell !!! start him soon or he’ll be worth same as Kabba, sweet FA

Boothroyd – tactics, decision making all in spotlight now, if by Jan we are mid-table, I think he might not cope with the stick. I also think the big ‘love-in’ with the chairman and Chief exec is unhealthy, they all keep ‘bigging’ each other up, They are all a bit too close for my liking, who is there to ask difficult questions ??? oooppss it was the Russo’s and looked what happen to them, my point proven.

Mackay – is he a yes man ???

technical directors, coaches, scientists etc etc etc etc etc etc – what difference have they made, would things be any different if they weren’t there ?

Does anyone enjoy our style of play ???????????????

I cant remeber one home game when I came out ground thinking wow, that was excellent !!!!!!

11. Wrighty - 02/12/2007

The whole squad is very right footed

12. Meldrew - 02/12/2007

Holly – excellent comments all round.

Matt – yesterday was absolutely dreadful. I know you are generally very pro club, but we are watching detritus at the moment.

13. Adam J - 02/12/2007

Meldrew – a bit harsh on the Williamson comment. Talboys has to be up there (down there?) with vega. well, maybe not that bad.

True Williamson isn’t playing great but he’s not a bad player. Possibly a stint on the sidelines (or possibly reserves) would do him good

14. Matt Rowson - 03/12/2007

Meldrew – disagree. Tuesday was shocking, surely Saturday was an improvement, at least in some respects, if no less frustrating. We played some good stuff going forward… how many times in the past would we have killed for the number of chances we created against City? OK we could have done a bit better with those chances, but you’re overstating the problem.

Defensively, however…

15. Markymark - 03/12/2007

What difference do Hunter,Burtenshaw and MM make ? None -Hunter is supposed to be a defensive coach and MM has massive experience especially at this level and yet our defending is comical at times.
Whats more,we definately should not have let CC go and Jackson was a poor signing at 35 older than MM.That leaves us with Mariappa whos too short and can’t tackle!
Also, we have loads of central midfielders but are ANY good enough at even championship level!?

16. Ralph (Stratfordonavon'orn) - 03/12/2007

I have been a huge Aidy fan for the past two and a whatever seasons. However, I do question whether during this current run (of bad luck, …not) he knows what the hell to do. We have to remember that he is still relatively new to full blown management and there are many situations that he has yet to come up against and overcome. Let’s face it, he’s never even been sacked yet!
I too think it’s time to get behind the team and frustrating as it might be, give positive vocal support. All we are doing currently is giving the newspapers fuel for their usual anti Watford, long ball, one dimentional, found out, too physical, Graham Taylor, little club, know your place etc etc diatribes. Anyway, since when did booing change anything?
And to the bloke in the lower rous calling for Duke to get up off his ar-e and show us why he is worth 3.5m, if he had a full game to show us how good/bad he is, I might agree, but 10 – 15 minutes cameo a week, hardly fair?

17. Matt Rowson - 03/12/2007

Markymark, you’ve not got a clue what effect the coaching staff are having.

CC does look like a mistake, but to be fair AB wanted to keep him but not as first choice and with his injury record, few would have seen him has more than backup for DS and JD. He wanted first team football, he’s done a good shift for us and isn’t the most reliable with injuries…

Agree about Jackson, but again, in defence of the decision, we are badly lacking any sort of leadership at the back, even from the more senior players (Poom…). Jackson patently hasn’t worked, but I can see why he was worth a gamble, particularly as Malky and AB would both have known from Norwich what effect he might have had… had his legs not gone…

Midfield… yes, I think they are. Williamson needs a break, Mahon needs a reliable partner, Francis and Williams are more than good enough, Bangura and O’Toole are or will be.

18. Mick G - 03/12/2007

Point 2
It’s not “lack of belief” that’s become Marlon’s problem.
Nothing has changed.
It’s more like selfishness or a desire to be flash when something more ordinary could be a better option.
Great to see when it comes off.
Highly wasteful and frustrating when it doesn’t work.

19. Joe Richardson - 03/12/2007

I don’t think Marlon was deliberately being selfish and flashy, in fact his efforts weren’t bad. Imagine if it was him who headed in our goal – would we be criticising him now?

King has got a lot on his shoulders with the crowd cheering his name as our saviour and the man who will take us back up (and, in some quarters, the reason we were relegated in the first place), don’t you expect him to shoot when he sees the posts?

I think some time off the top spot is neccesary to take some pressure off and start trying new things – Ellington really should get a few starts, maybe even in place of King. The Duke needs to be given 5/6 chances each game (and then we’ll see if he’s worth his salt) and King needs a rest from our lofty expectations.

Finally, did King really have all that many ‘good’ chances to work with? I think he did well to create acute shooting chances and find the side-netting!

20. stephen hoffman - 03/12/2007

much as i love doyley and he has been our most improved player this season he had a poor game against bristol , there right winger was beating him time and time again as for demerit yes he is a good defender but both he and shittu defended poorly yesterday everyone criticising shittu in the centre of defence but i thought yesterday demerit was just as poor . as for ellington when he came on i thought he played well a nice flick which was good build up to a goal, he put himself about and caused problems for there defenders . i would start with him against colchester, the question is should we start with henderson or king with him. as for mahon i thought yes he was poor in first half but i thought he played quite well in second half got stuck in couple of nice passes very good cross from free kick , and some nice tackles–but i suppose people forgot to comment on that.

21. East Stand Man - 03/12/2007


I missed the Burnley game so if your thunk 1 is true last Tuesday must have been grim.

Even though we probably did enough to earn a draw against Bristol City we didn’t really deserve a point.

I hope McAnuff and Ellington come good. McAnuff has quick feet but seems lightweight. Ellington just has not really been given a chance. Sometimes it takes a player a season to come good. They just have to find their level and place in the set-up.

I feel we are in a crucial part of the season. Will it go the way of the 2000/01 season, brilliant start, awful middle and meandering end or can we pick ourselves up. I still think the latter but we willl have to battle all the way to the line. No more 9 point cushions

Come on you Golden Boys!!


22. Esp - 03/12/2007

Firstly East Stand Man you said that we probably did enough to earn a draw against City but we didn’t deserve a point? I have read that sentence twice and I don’t understand it; maybe it’s me old age but there seemed to be an inconsistency rather like our matches in November!!.

Marky Mark told us we shouldn’t have let Clarke Carlisle go. I will take that remark seriously if you can prove you were saying that back in September and October Mark. Thre didn’t seem to be any vociferous calls for him then. DeMerit has only just come back from injury 2 weeks earlier than expected and is one of the best centre halves in our league when fit, Shittu is a shoe in partly because of his aerial supremacy and physical presence but more due to the fact there is NO current experienced fit replacement, Stewart is playing OK but is not helped by an AWOL left side of midfield imho who SHOULD track back more and leave my Lloyd Doyley alone!!

Finally Holly wrote:
Stewart – needs competition, playing like someone who knows he is moving on…. and
Mahon – legs gone, defends too deep (at managers request ???). I am not a big Mahon fan

My thoughts are is it those players that are stalling over signing new contracts or do we simply not want to give them one?
I would put money on the fact that they and their agents will not be satisfied with any new deal (if there is one) as they are playing in 2 positions where we desperately need cover and a new signing in the transfer window for both those berths is a must. There WILL be competition in those places That is Clear (as Rafa would say!!).

I think you’re wrong with your comment about Shittu by the way; for the reasons I expressed above and I forgot to mention his confidence in front of goal, his overall contribution therefore is excellent but maybe him and DeMerit need a few more matches together as there does seem to be a lack of telepathy there

See you all at Layer Cake Stadium tomorrow



Mahon – legs gone, defends too deep (at managers request ???). I am not a big Mahon fan, however I think the manager is doing the wrong thing keep taking the captain off, doesnt look good or intall confidence, Betty should have the balls to give captaincy to someone else … (King, Demerit or even Stewart who played his best when captain last year, or bloody Carlisle if he were still here aaagggghhhh)

23. Markymark - 03/12/2007

Matt: I agree that both Al and Joe are possible future stars.
Re: Williams : the jury is out as he’s barely played for us.Lets see if he can do a better job for us than he did for Leicester City!?
Me-I’m very concerned about tommorrow night v an inform Colchester who play good football home and away!

24. JohnM - 04/12/2007

As everyone is having a say I think I’ll have one too. My views might be slightly rose coloured as I have just watched the highlights on the web site and, as per usual, it doesn’t look as bad as I remember. Marlon hit the bar, we had a blatant penalty denied – handball not Jodi’s dive/trip over his own feet – etc.

What has been apparent over the last few of weeks is that we are being overrun in midfield be that because Gavin’s getting slow or Williamson is off form but the real reason is we need more bodies in there and ones with young legs. Perm anyone from Al(when fit and, fingers crossed, allowed to stay), Rinaldi, Williams(when fit), Francis( not really defensive),JJ etc to join the other two – maybe move Jodi back to a more defensive role. Isn’t great being an armchair manager.

Couple of other points:
– Clarke wasn’t that good – not the ‘saviour’ some people think.
– Lets get the injured players back before we start worrying about January signngs.
– Re the coaching staff – someone picked up BF and AJ as loan signings so they can’t be that bad.

I am out the country for a couple of weeks so hopefully when I take my seat on boxing day eveything will be looking good. If not I could be joining the 2001 doom merchants, hopefully not.

” Come on you ‘Orns.”

25. Mick G. - 04/12/2007

Joe Richardson:
Quite – everyone does expect Marlon to shoot when he sees the posts.And on Saturday he kept shooting wide/over from any number of chances.
That’s why I’m suggesting that he tries something different – like passing to a colleague in space.
You say he’s got a lot on his shoulders so why doesn’t he off-load some of it?
It’s a team game after all.
Anyway, I agree that Ellington should be given a start instead of him.

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