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Watford 0 Crystal Palace 2 (19/04/2008) 20/04/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from Palace

1- More depressing than Barnsley, if anything.  No lack of effort this time, not really.  We probably edged the first half, and were much the better team at the start of the second.  And Palace still mugged us painfully easily.  This is what we were doing to teams two years ago, of course.

2- With a forward line almost completely devoid of movement, whatever other positive characteristics it possesses, we really are rather dependent on the ball bouncing for us.  A fit Marlon King, or the Collins John or Nathan Ellington we thought we’d signed wouldn’t half make a difference.  Speaking of whom…

3- I wonder how many of those who mockingly cheered Ellington’s belated introduction were the same who cheer his replacement when he starts again and fails to deliver (again).  The Problem is not that Boothroyd mistimes his substitutions, it’s that he’s painfully devoid of useful options on the bench.  Not that this isn’t his own fault to a large degree, naturally.

4- McAnuff’s substitution.  After a decent enough first hour or so, the winger had disappeared, and critically failed to capitalise on his opponent’s early yellow card.  Given that we so rarely look like scoring from open play, effectively bringing in a player who does occasionally put in a decent dead ball didn’t seem like such a bad shout to me.  Stewart on the right and Smith on the left, however, I struggled to understand…

5- It had to be bloody Palace, didn’t it?  Was a side ever so neatly summarised in one individual than Palace are by Clinton Morrison?


1. Holly68 - 20/04/2008

After 35 years of attending matches, last 10 years as a season ticket holder, thousands of pounds spent last season travelling here there and everywhere, I am going to BOYCOTT next weeks game in protest, the standard and quality of football this season at home has been appalling, i am sick of it !!!!

2. Mark - 20/04/2008

We were not as bad as some have made out but once again we failed to score and that just pressure on our defence.

One they scored it was game over and Aidy did not make changes quick enough in terms of Ellington (Not saying he would have mad a great impact but the lad needs more than 2 mins!)

O’Toole needs a break – not a bad player but just looks shattered and Williamson was doing ok before being dropped.

My worry is that people like Shittu and the full backs take the easy option of just lumping the ball high and anywhere in the hope of winning a 2nd ball.

3. MartinG - 20/04/2008

I actually thought yesterday was one of the better games of a season of dreadful entertainment.

So if we actually somehow manage to go up what exactly does next season hold? A season of getting battered by the second strings of Man U., Arsenal, Chelsea etc. Money in the bank sure but we won’t even get to see Ronaldo, Rooney, Ashley Young etc. and we’ll struggle to match Derby’s record based on what we’ve seen at the Vic this year. Probably the best entertainment would be the look on Arsene Wenger’s face when he sees our Total Football based kick-off routine. Depressing.

4. Mark - 20/04/2008

Oh no…we will do that kick off and like at Hull probably let in a goal when the ball goes to one of the defenders and they cut through our static midfield/defende with ease.


5. matt - 20/04/2008

this whole situation worries me greatly. from a position of relativer financial security and a promising young manager committed to playing a good brand of football that was successful we have become one of the most uninspiring teams in my years of supporting with huge wages being paid and a manager and chairman seemingly in denial.

I will never stop supporting the club or the team but i don’t have to support the brand of football being served up. Aidy promised attacking entertaining football when he came to the club, why has he decided to go down a path which offers zero entertainment

so disappointing

6. Hornetboy84 - 20/04/2008

Hmmm. Normally positive but despite acknowledging that with a bit of luck/finishing we could have won …. once again we were just all huff and puff.

1)Where are the youngsters such as Palace had – just run at you at pace with no fear.

2) Where is the Aidy from 2 years ago (is that all it is?) – brave, adventurous.

Having said that – if things go to plan we will now have Bristol City in the play-offs and frankly we have enough to beat them – then its a one-off game. I only want to go up for the money. Next season could be even more soul destroying – except I would presume we would invest in some quality.

Oh well. Anyone want to buy 2 Blackpool tickets?

7. Jamie - 20/04/2008

Given that Jobi was up against his former team with perhaps something to prove I would have liked to have seen him at 0-0 or even 1-0 down we try him through the middle perhaps playing off Henderson. Untried Yes. Unproven Yes. But what the hell…

Instead we take off an attacking option for a left back. It sends out such a negative message however you play up the attributes of the oncoming player.

I’m not there next week. A few weeks back I was worried that I might miss a crucial, perhaps even promotion confirming game. Now, I couldn’t give a toss quite frankly.

8. Sequel - 20/04/2008

Well, I’ve been coming to the Vic since Good Friday 1970 (a 3-2 defeat to Middlesbrough). After that 5 goal thriller I didn’t witness more than 3 goals in a game here until 1977, and my only Watford win during that time was a 1-0 against Portsmouth. Admittedly, I was exactly a regular visitor, probably 8 or 10 games a season, but next to that record, this season has been a pleasure…..well, almost……. In fact “pleasure” is too strong a word for it. On balance, the entertainment this season has been better than scraping ones finger nails down a blackboard…….but only just……..and far more expensive.

9. JohnF - 21/04/2008

I thought we started well against one of the form teams in the division. We were a little unfortunate not to score but one concern is the fact that we pack the area with nobody coming in from outside. Quite frankly it would have been better if Shittu had not come for some of the set pieces as he was getting in everybody’s way on Saturday, which was not his finest hour. So many players without any confidence and playing with fear. The players needed the support and we played better than we have for a while. I agree about the problem of the back four tending to lump the ball forward.
Isn’t it interesting that players who did OK got abuse after one mistake and others who were poor all game were left alone.
Although the entertainment hasn’t been great, when Aidy first arrived it was actually no better and we were in our normal position of starting a relegation battle. Some success leads to high expectations that Aidy has encouraged and which may have been unrealistic and it leads to timidity because you start to think you have something to lose and you try to keep what you have. Thought the ref was OK. Concerned by defensive frailty. They would have scored in the first half but for a goal line clearance by Jordan Stewart.
I too am concerned about finances (the East Stand really does need replacing) but the Chairman has done OK in that respect up to now.

10. Play-Off Pete - 21/04/2008

What I don’t understand is we seem to think the only way to score is from a cross into the box and a header?
Whatever happened to playing it along the ground (like Palace’s second), and long shots?
If you ever watch the Championship round-up on a Sunday morning, countless goals come from long, sometimes speculative shots and frequent deflections.
I put it all down to the pressures of trying to get back up.

11. markymark - 21/04/2008

I never,ever thought that I would again witness a situation at the club akin to the disasterous Vialli period……………..until now!
All the money earnt from the prem and the sales of Young,King and Bouazza hasbeen frittered away on absolutely awful signings such as Ellington.Basically,we have far too big a squad of average players on ridiculously high wages eg: Jackson rotting away in the reserves on £10k a week.
Assuming we don’t go up ,which on current form is a definate,I hope Simpson enforces a clearout of players such as Ellington,Kabba,Francis,Poom,Jackson otherwise we really will be up shit creak alley………………..AGAIN!!

12. Craig Ramage - 21/04/2008

All very disappointing. I didn’t go on Saturday but have been to enough home games to know that things ain’t right at the moment, however much you’re told to “keep the faith” by the core of die hards. In no particular order:

– The facts don’t lie. We’ve been in relgation form since early November (points per game average). Negative goal difference at home tells its own sorry story and it’s enough games not to be just “bad luck”

– Totally agree with “play off pete” – we seem wedded to a very rigid way of scoring (or trying to score!) goals. Get it wide (slowly), pump it into the box and hope for a headed goal….way too easy for most decent defences to deal with….

– transfer dealings have been very suspect….if you insist on hoofball then at least sign the players who can do it, not people who need the ball to feet / quality service (ie Ellington / Priskin) to score…also don’t sign a whole squad of also-rans who won’t even play in the reserves….and Collins John – if he’s not fit then DON’T GET HIM IN – wouldn’t be surprised if CJ had said something to Boofers in training and been told will never play for us…(a la Devaney)

– Looks recently like he has lost the dressing room / respect of the players. Some horribly body language (e.g. Barnsley game) and some horrible quotes from Aidy along the lines of “if they only did what I told them to do then we’d win”…

Of course, in some ways he has earned the right to spend the money and make a few mistakes as it’d down to him that we’ve got it to spend in the first place. We simply would not have gone up in 2005/6 under Lewington and Aidy must take the credit for the self belief / positive energy he injected into the team that season…however, worryingly now he looks like a stubborn protagonist of one dimensonal football, too proud & arrogant to take any criticism and too blinkered to change…I don’t buy the “you can’t play decent football on our budget” argument…you can scrap and mix it up with flair and style like we did in 2005/6.

Maybe that’s the point – back then we had King / Young (did anyone see him yesterday for Villa – awesome) / the pace of Bouazza…we also had a footballing Spring weighing in with some key goals from midfield. These people have largely been replaced with worse players (Aidy’s judgement) and it has shown.

We may scrape into the play offs, but I can’t see us prevailing over two legs against anyone…if by some miracle we did, and then fluked a Wembley win some serious questions would need to get asked in the summer…

My prediction…we’ll make the play offs, lose in the final, and then do a Leeds the following season unless Aidy changes his approach and changes the way we play…problem is, I’m not sure he’s capable of change…

13. Mike - 21/04/2008

I think it is hard to have a go at Boothroyd for not replacing King, Young and Bouazza.

In Marlon King he unearthed someone that he obviously could connect with, and managed to re-ignite his career. Call it luck if you like, but getting a 20 goal a season man for the money we paid for King was impressive, and no-one was ever going to fill his boots. Not even for 4 million quid.

Ashley Young. Basically he is going to play for England for the next 10 years. Irreplacable. A team like Watford just can’t fill that sort of gap.

Bouazza – another good player, quick and confident. Had he waited another year he would have been a top drawer Premiership quality player. He wanted to go though, so Boothroyd had no real option. When we got him, I thought McAnuff was a reasonable replacement…I just think replacing the others was nigh on impossible.

Since Johnson went we have looked like a team with no idea of where the next goal, or indeed win is coming from, and the home games have been absolutely excruciating – the combination of an increasingly frustrated/annoyed/angry crowd and the insipid performances have made me incredibly glad that the cricket season is upon us.

14. Matt Rowson - 21/04/2008

Agree with you on each point Mike. I think Boothroyd probably CAN be criticised for not replacing the pace that we’ve lost in those three, and in placing more emphasis on polishing rough diamonds than he probably ought have. He did a fine job with King, but has thus far failed to repeat the trick with Ellington and John. A more dependable if less potentially spectacular option would serve us well at the moment.

15. Matt Rowson - 21/04/2008

…apart from the comment about bloody cricket, which I’ve only just noticed.

16. GoldenYears - 21/04/2008

I feel, a massive sense of dissapointment this season, but nothing is akin to the dissapointment i felt the season graham taylor flittered away a top 2 postion, at least aidy despite bad form, bad signings, as managed to keep us in contention for promotion one way or another. I’m sure he’s be the first to admit he’s made mistakes, evident for us all but he is doing what he can currently. Do you think he expected the duke to be like this no. One thing he can do however is get henderson out of this team, no matter how much effort he puts in he makes this team completely dependant on the long ball, and one of my favourite games ive seen at the Vic was Charlton at home last season the football in that half was fantastic give the man chance he will do it with this club or else we will be left with another sub standard championship manager. Keep the faith, you have to.

17. Flippo Galli - 21/04/2008

Good point Mike, but I do agree with Matt’s view that the pace in attack simply hasn’t been replaced. Most teams will often replace sold players with promising, pacey players from the youth set-up. Has there been any of that this year? Do we have any of these coming through?

Although this season has been very painful (and often dull, skillfully devoid, etc, etc) you have to sympathise with AB because Ellington and John (and even Kabba…) have been prolific at former clubs and simply have not delivered for us.

Hendo tries a lot but you can’t rely on someone like him to be your talisman week in week out.

As for Priskin…

Maybe it’s time that we began (a little late now of course) playing 4-5-1 like all teams that come to the Vic do. We don’t score with two up front anyway, and our midfield/ defence always looks horribly exposed on the counter-attack.

I’m probably starting to sound like Tony Pulis now!

18. Old Git - 21/04/2008

Yippee! This is great…cackle cackle …..we just need one win, against already relegated Scunthorpe and we’re in the play-offs!! What a season!… cackle cackle heh-heh-heh-heh cough cough splutter…let’s all laugh at Charlton heh heh heh. And Wolves! At my advanced age I never thought I’d see the Golden Boys at Wembley again and now we are so-oooo near!… cackle cackle, what a season…sorry must go, Nurse is here with my medication.
Cough cough. Eeeeurgh……pharrrrrrrt.

19. Hornetboy84 - 21/04/2008


I have just re-read my ambitions for this season (and any season).

WFC to be a top quartile team (i.e. Top 23 each season out of 92 clubs). That means Play-off excitement each year – an extended season and the continued hope and expectation from being a consistent contender albeit yo-yo club.

So we are there (nearly)…….. its just the “excitement” bit that is sadly lacking. I’m sure it will come back.


Ps Aidy.

1)Re: Jobi substitution. Whilst understanding your desire to have balls whipped in, the fatal flaw in your plan is expecting Jordan to do it. He can do a job – but the ability to beat a player to half a yard to whip a ball in or any kind of crossing ability is lacking from his repertoire. If you watch his forward passes he scoops it up like a sand wedge — this makes the forward players have to work just to get the ball under control.

2) Re: Tamas. He is certainly starting to play and looking some kind of threat …. BUT …. He and Hendo have not formed any kind of partnership link up at all … (2 headers dont count).
Also – both goals came as a consequence of Priskin not getting to the ball when we clear our lines. The way you set the team up – you need your forward players to be defending from the front.

3) Ball possession = Attacking move development.
Much as I love Doyley – you have to play Mariappa.
Much as I admire JJ – you have to play Williamson.
And I am certainly not a Stewart baiter – but Sadler to my mind plays simpler balls forward or sideways.

4) Trying something different.
How about 4-3-3? Play Ellington in the hole. Tommy as one of the 3 midfield players. Lets see if we can use this to keep possession and create a different mix of pressures. We can create other “Shittu” pressure via Brombys throws and corners etc.

That might leave Jobi on the bench – but at least we then have an alternative attacking force to run at teams later on with.

20. rookerythoughts - 21/04/2008

re: cricket – Oh come on Matt, surely the Indian Premier League has got your mouth watering with anticipation. I would have thought all that razzamataz, hype and ludicrous sums of money would have been right up your street!

re: pace and polishing rough diamonds – spot on. I hoped against hope that he would help Ellington turn it around, if for no other reason than to shut up those infuriatingly smug WBA fans. I still hold out some semblance of hope that he may come good after a good pre-season and a fresh start…who knows.

With regard to Fillipo Gallis’ point about youth coming through, I think JJ O’T and Aidy Mariapa show that things are moving in the right direction, with Jordan Parkes and Theo Robinson also making the right noises. don’t forget we’ve got Ashley Young’s little brother too…

One last point, and one that I am very keen to hear everyone’s thoughts on. Will we sign Collins John on a permanent deal in the summer?

21. Adam J - 21/04/2008

I really hope we win our last two games, and so do Palace, for the simple reason that it would probably mean that a certain midlands team ends up in 7th. Surely not…

22. East Stand Man - 21/04/2008

Old Git,

If you are still alive you are right that we are so close to Wembley. Recently I have seen Watford outplay Stoke even with 10 men, beat Coventry (unconvincing thoiugh it was), hold on at West Brom and were marginally the better side against Crystal Palace. I missed the Barnsley and Hull debacles but those two games apart we are not a bad side. We lack confidence and a couple of goals from our forwards may well change that. Lets please keep the faith until the end of the season at least.

I still think Aidy is the right man and we have the right management set up. Having supported Watford for 40 odd years I have seen much worse, much much worse, than the tail end of this season – believe me.

Aidy has made some mistakes with his signings this year, John and Ellington are shining examples of that and has lost that touch he had with his signings in the first season.

My Heart says Yes to mpromotion but my head says No.

23. Harefield Hornet - 21/04/2008

I Agree with much of what is being said but I have a couple of more obvious questions. Why on earth did AB bring in players in January to replace those that were under-performing – only to replace them in the run-in with those same under-performers?

How the hell does Stewart get the nod over Sadler, Doyley over Demerit (albeit out of position – still a better player) and the hopelessly raw and accident prone O’Toole over Williamson!!!

Why Do we never defend the back post from corners and free kicks! You would have thought we had learnmt from the Barnsley debacle.

Why do I bother to turn up week in week out to watch this sh**e!!

24. Johnny Boy ( formly JohnM, but there are too many of us) - 21/04/2008

Some belated observasions from last Saturday;
– Yes it was depressing that we played reasonably and still lost but on a positive note, we could meet Palace in the play offs and maybe nick it as they were not much better than us, forever the optimist me.
– The substitution. The bench were planning to bring Sadler on before the goal which presumeably means they were settling for a draw (0-0), sound tactically as it would have kept us 4 points ahead of Palace but an admission that we had given up on the automatics places. Also, why take off Jodi who was having one of his better games and was being fired up by the Palace fans.
– Balls to feet. It has been discussed above and I am totally in the camp of those who are for it. Both Priskin and Ellington would perform better with that type of service.
– Boothroyd. Depite the current situation, still think he’s one of the best mangers around.

25. Big Tone - 21/04/2008

Is it just me or have we been a bit rigid in the old formation stakes of late? Seems to me that against both WBA and Palace Eustace was somewhat isolated and outnumbered facing a 5 man midfield and that seemed to me to contribute to both goals – i.e. both came back in once cleared, from a pretty much unmarked Palace midfielder, plus the fullbacks seemd to get sucked out of position trying to cover the spare man quite a bit.

It just seemed to work and it got me thinking that if we haven’t got the firepower/personnel up front, why not cut our losses, play Doris up front on his own and tuck JJOT/Williamson/Kabba/Rinaldi/whoever in behind him with Jobi and Smudger out wide flinging crosses in from the flanks.

4-3-3 isn’t an option as we don’t have central midfielders flexible enough to cope with it, and 4-4-2 is only any good if you’ve actually got two strikers that you think might actually put it in the net!

Just a thought as I sit here daydreaming on a dull Monday pm…

26. Adam J - 21/04/2008

We won’t get promoted. I back Aidy tho. No doubt we have a worse squad than this time two years ago but hey, that’s what happens with football teams, they get better and worse over time. I think we have a better squad that three years ago which kind of proves my point. We are in 5th position in the Championship. Now that’s not that bad. And you never know, promotion is still a posibility. Doubt it tho…

27. Stuart - 21/04/2008

I now support MK Dons

28. James - 21/04/2008

Another point that I haven’t seen made yet is the state of our pitch.
It’s become increasing bobbled over the course of the season and was very noticeable on Saturday. Both teams struggled with it, mis-controlling balls along the ground and knocking passes into the stands.
Now I know that it’s the same for both sides, but it may go some way to explaining why we struggle to put passes together at home and always resort to route one.
It’s also worth noting that Hull’s pitch was even worse.

29. Matt Rowson - 21/04/2008


that’s not a bad shout at all – apart from the Rinaldi suggestion, as discussed ad infinitum on these pages. O’Toole might be worth a shout in that position as he times his runs well; that would mean with Williamson and Eustace, say, we had a stiffer midfield and O’Toole’s occasional lack of, um, robustness wouldn’t be such an issue.

Actually we did seem to play this formation briefly at West Brom, with Aidy Mariappa of all people playing off the front man. Don’t remember Albion playing five in midfield though (Phillips was up with Miller for the most part wasn’t he?).

Stuart… you are a fool.

30. NickB - 21/04/2008

Tone/ Matt

Agreed. I remember suggesting a fluid 4 5 1/ 4 3 3 system a while back; for me though, the problem right now is Hendo. Yes, he’s a willing chaser, gets stuck in, takes the knocks etc.
Problem is his lack of anticipation and mobility around the box. Classic example in first half on Saturday, when Danny won a header arond the Palace penalty spot and Darius stood motionless on the edge of the box as the knock down fell invitingly to where he should have been. Someone earlier made the point about lack of pace, for me it’s that, but also chronic lack of movement, running off the ball etc.
We also need a midfielder willing to run past the strikers.
We are unbelievably predictable at the moment

31. Red - 21/04/2008

Wise words from the usual suspects. Am I the only one that thought Tommy had a great game -he was everywhere, and thats one of our problems. Football is pretty simple, a bit like Doris, he’s the type of person I am glad I did’nt go to school with, a right bully. He struggles at the front and spends his time complaining about the very things he does to defenders.If Tommy could cross the ball and be in the box to receive it, at ground level, we would score more. Danny is fantastic and will probably move on next season but why does he always punt it up field? I am sure we used to play football along the ground right up to the WBA home match but now its booted up field to the forwards or head tennis in midfield. Promotion would be a disaster, the three teams that go up will be the three teams that come straight back down, but we do need to think about next season. The trouble is last season we brought in players for this season and I think AB has run out motivational sayings and excuses.

32. Matt Rowson - 21/04/2008


agree with the predictable comment. Not sure Doris’ lack of anticipation (and “fox in the box” he certainly isn’t, though I’d still rather have him than Franny Jeffers) would be an issue in the formation that’s suggested, as his role would be to do the winning of the balls for others to feed off. Agree that there isn’t really an obvious candidate to play off him, but O’Toole might benefit from lack of defensive responsibility if two midfielders are behind him.

Red- not sure I agree about Danny. I think he’s a good defender in the second division, and a terrific personality, but his strength and pace have tended to get him out of situations and his basic positioning and defensive discipline isn’t good enough for the top flight.

33. Stuart - 21/04/2008

ha ha! One liners involving MK Dons are great! Look I mentioned them again here. This season has indeed warped my mind.

34. Big John - 22/04/2008

We might not be playing well at the moment, but we are almost certainly going to finish in the playoff places, which is something most of us would have settled for at the start of the season. I bet most Wolves, Charlton, Sheff Utd fans would swap with us right now.

We need to keep the faith, back the team and the manager.
Aidy is one of the best around, the problem this season is that because of his relentless positivity he has failed to manage the fans expectations. This, coupled with the start we had has created a totally unrealistic air of expectantcy.

If we can hold on to 5th place we will probably end up playing Bristol City in the semi’s – a team who are on as bad a run as us – if not worse. Get through that then its a one-off lottery at Wembley.

35. Flippo Galli - 22/04/2008

Oh well, even CJ has buggered off now…

What ever happened to the innocent days of Guy Wittingham and Alan Smart?

36. markymark - 22/04/2008

Good job too that CJ has buggered off! He was costing us £20k a week ( or about half if Fulham were paying half) for doing nothing.
No goals,totally unfit.
What makes me laugh ( or cry?) is that at the start of the season Boothroyd ( used to call him Aidy or AB) was bleating on about how great it is to have 4 such quality strikers!?

37. MalkyP - 22/04/2008

Can anyone explain why, when the score was 0-0, we wasted so much time ambling to take corners? I thought we wanted/needed to win this game!

38. Matt Lovett - 22/04/2008

I’m now in my 30th season of coming to the Vic and following the Hornets (“30 years, man and boy”, to steal a phrase from The Fast Show), and, god willing, I’ve got another 30 years to come. Football is completely different now to what it was all those years ago. There’s an elite of about 10 clubs that have the kudos, history, support base, global appeal etc that means that they will for ever be part of that elite. There’s then a group of 8 to 10 clubs that have the aspirations of the elite, fall a bit short in terms of kudos, history, support base, global appeal etc, but have spells (extended in some cases) of playing in the upper echelons of the domestic game. Then, there are a handful of clubs that have the history, but little else going for them. Finally, there are 60 or so clubs that have aspirations, the odd flirtation with history, little or no support base, and virtually no global appeal. Sadly, Watford FC falls into the final category. When you think about it, what right does a club the size of Watford have to be in the Premier League, let alone the Championship? If cities like Nottingham or Leeds can’t keep at least one team in the second tier, doesn’t it say something about how WELL Watford are doing to not just be in the Championship, but to be scrapping it out at the business end of the division? I’m perfectly satisfied with where Watford are at. Some of the recent performances haven’t been much cop, but Watford’s been my team since I was 7 years old, and they will always be my team, whether they’re stuffing Sunderland 8-0, losing 4-0 at home to Swindon, crapping on Southampton 7-1, or being rogered 5-1 at home by Palace (which, incidentally, was a far worse showing than Saturday just gone). I’m not going to criticise the boo boys, or eulogise those who knock them – everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I do, however, hope that everybody who cares about Watford will get behind the team during the last couple of games (hopefully last 5 games), and cheer them come what may.

39. Yok Horn - 22/04/2008

Well there you go. A bad injury, maybe in 18 moths time he will prove to be the new Marlon after all….

Something that doesn’t seem to have been touched on too much rcently is Keith Burkinshaw. Earlie this week anational newspapaer highlighted that prior to his departure we averaged 1.81 points a game as against 1.31 now. I certainly don’t think the lack of King/Johnson factor can be discounted but it strikes me as a little odd that Aidy (who likes to remind us very often of his inexperience) is relying on the likes of Malky Mackay as number 2.

I’m like the rest of us – fed up of the football and reading the prospect of promotion. But right behind the guy none the less – he has had us punching above our weight for the last 3 years and is now wilting with the expectation. An experienced no 2 may make all the difference next season – he just needs to see that is what he needs.

40. Mark - 22/04/2008

At least one Watford striker scored tonight…for Hereford.

Him and Liam Henderson for the Youth/Reserves are the only ones scoring at the moment.

I’ve enjoyed watching the youngsters in recent times than the 1st team…they do try to play football at least.

I am not expected graceful wonderful stuff but the odd moment would be nice just to get the likes of Smith and McAnuff in the game.

41. Wrighty - 23/04/2008

Collins John is injured you say, who would have thought!!!!!!!!

42. Big Tone - 23/04/2008

Here, here Matt Lovett. If we’d have been told 3 years ago that we’d get promoted, have a season in the Prem and then be 5th going into the last 2 games of this season who can honestly say that they wouldn’t have taken it?

I’m not buying this Hoofroyd stuff that’s doing the rounds either. There’s nothing wrong with a long ball game at all and I defy anybody to say that GT’s Watford or the Wimbledon of the 80’s (probably the finest examples of this much maligned style) weren’t hugely exciting to watch.

And that’s the bit that’s missing just now.

To play the system well you need some sort of spine such as a Sinnott/Terry – Taylor/Jackett – Rielly/Johnston for those of a certain age.

We’ve sort of got it now with Shittu/Demerit/Bromby – Eustace/Williamson/JJOT – but the problem is up front where we only really have Doris and are missing a Mo Johnston figure.

Which all brings me back to the aforementioned 4-5-1 suggestion with JJOT dropping off Doris and Williamson supporting Eustace as per Matt R’s note above.

Doris could be a great target man. Surely if you want a player to get his big blond mop on the end of long balls, hold it up for advancing midfielders and generally just be a nuisance for opposing defenders then surely he’s your man.

The real question is whether or not Aidy is prepared to change things around with just 2 games to go before (we hope and pray) a play-off campaign.

And there’s only one man who knows the answer to that.

Personally I think beefing up the midfield with Williamson and giving JJOT a free role ‘in the hole’ like might just be the inspired move that breaks us out of our recent dodgy patch.

Plus we have cover in those roles in that Al B and Kabba (no laughing at the back) could probably play these roles as well if need be.

Just my tuppance-worth like.

43. jimbohornet - 23/04/2008

Well said Matt Lovett from one who was there when we were bottom of Div 4 and the terraces were made of railway sleepers !
Having said that Barnsley was made more hard to take because we could have gone top.
Expectation is that we will be in the playoffs but we do not have the divine right and need to watch out for those in form such as Wolves and Palace.
Frankly if we don’t get 3 points from Scunthorpe or Blackpool we don’t deserve to extend the season.
If we do it is 3 cup games and anything can happen !
Keep the faith

44. Old Git - 23/04/2008

My geriatric mind is playing tricks on me. I keep having a recurring dream. The clock ticks down, we are a couple of minutes away from a 1-0 defeat in a season-defining match. We get a free kick in a dangerous position. Up steps Jordan oh no not him, shouldn’t be allowed near the team, he’s useless, he runs forward and…. bang! Goal! We’ve saved the match and won a vital point !! Seconds later, the bemused and demoralised opposition, so happy just a few moments ago that they’d won all three points, implodes and concedes a bizarre and unnecessary stoppage- time penalty….GOAL! We’ve won!! Here’s to Jordan, he’s turned the game around and won us three vital points that a moment ago were never ours!!

Actually, not a dream at all….. Just look at the table from the direction of Wolverhampton and make the necessary adjustment.

45. The Great Big O - 24/04/2008

The wiser among the fans know that the club is in a period of over-achievement. What’s happened is that Aidy has put himself under pressure – by the scale of his previous achievements for us. Historically, this will be something like our 11th highest league finish ever. It will be Aidy’s lowest league finish ever.

The result? Aidy’s been vexed since November – when the apparently automatic wins stopped happening.

And because he’s under pressure, his management has been wrong-headed. He calls for more belief and effort when we need more guile and creativity to break down teams who come prepared for a bombardment at Vicarage Road.

Currently we have two problems. Our play on-the-ball, and our play off-the-ball.

Sounds pretty comprehensive. But if we fix the off-the-ball game – with running, movement, anticipation, and invention – we’ll automatically fix the on-the-ball game.

Aidy’s latest weekly email is the usual desperate rallying cry. We need his head to clear so that he can see that the problem lies in the desperation-inspired style of football we’re playing.

A lucky three points at the weekend, and other results going our way, could qualify us for the play-offs a week early – and give him the short breather he needs.

Let’s do our bit to help make that happen.

46. JohnF - 24/04/2008

It is interesting that the whole of the season’s disasters seem to be down to Jordan Stewart and Tamas Priskin, at least in the mind of many “fans”. If Jordan Stewart hadn’t been in the squad then Henderson wouldn’t have missed those two penalties. Tamas Priskin was alone in being responsible for the two Palace goals and poor Lloyd Doyley and Lee Bromby really shouldn’t have to defend against attackers. I am sure that these and other players will leave in the summer for the sake of their careers, just like Gavin Mahon. Problem is that means John Joe is likely to be the target, after all he is young and relatively inexperienced so that’s OK. But the likes of Rinaldo are lining up to join Watford aren’t they, now that we are a big club (been in premier league and finished bottom, couldn’t sell out for home games, couldn’t sell all of our tickets for the play-off final or the FA cup semi-final). Hmmm, frustration is funny state of mind.

47. Big Tone - 24/04/2008

JohnF : Can’t quite see how Priskin can be at fault for both palace goals. 1st one, possibly a bit part as if he had challanged Fonte on the hal;f way line it wouldn’t have got to JJOT, who then couldn’t have flicked it on, unchallenged, like a great big Jesse, into our box and to the feet of Ifill. 2nd one I can’t see at all as it was doyley who allowed moses to turn him inside, and it was Lee who was beaten at his near posy not Priskin.

Don’t get me wrong, there seems to be much wrong with Priskins attitude and possibly abilities but it doesn’t seem fair to lay the Palace loss at his door.

And as for left back, I’d still rather see us play Sadler (a proper bootering full back) than Stewart with his ambitions of getting forward too much.

All IMHO of course…

48. JohnF - 24/04/2008

Spot on The Great Big O.

49. Nick B - 24/04/2008

Impressive stuff Big O, gets to the nub of the current problems very forensically. The lack of anticipation, movement and dummy runs has been an issue for a long time, as has the lack of pace.

Let’s hope we get an early goal to settle both the nerves and the natives.

If we are to stick to 4 4 2, let’s play Smith off Henderson and get Lionel in for a bit of pace and unpredictability, or switch Jobi right and get Stewart to bomb forward

50. markymark - 24/04/2008

Note that Rinaldi was not in the reserve team this week.Does this mean shock horror that he may feature on Saturday.After all,we are desperately lacking in the creativity department anyway!

51. Nick B - 24/04/2008

Big Tone

JohnF was using irony, I fear…

Laid on with a trowel, actually

52. East Stand Man - 24/04/2008


That will get Matt R going but I think Rinaldi has definitely got that thing we currently lack and that is guile.

But then he may just be injured, p*ssed off or on his way out

Who knows?

53. Wrighty - 24/04/2008

Big Tone, I think JohnF was taking the piss ever so much

54. Stuart - 24/04/2008

I don’t care about anything it’s just football. Of course I want Watford to win and I’ll follow them with all my heart like I have for years in whatever division they’re in. But at the end of the day it’s just football.

55. Esp - 25/04/2008

I think the general theme of these messages is that we all bought the rhetoric and Aidy’s infectious optimism and his record since he took over is one of OVER achieving with a Watford squad who, inevitably after spending a brief season in the biggest shop window in world football are inevitably not going to keep hold of their top stars whether they be contracted players (Young, King, Bouazza) or loan signings (Foster, Johnson, Eagles) especially if those former contracted players and their agents feel that a bigger pay day or guaranteed Premiership football lie elsewhere

Maybe I bought in to that high expectation too but a young ambitious manager can’t really say anything different can he? As well as his oft criticised man management and transfer dealings he is also learning to handle the media and we must surely let him learn by his mistakes without being overly critical. He WILL learn (he HAS to) but it also needs us (and I am talking to YOU Paul Perkins as I type this) to control our frustrations,be tolerant and be able to channel our energies and passions in a positive,constructive way

The Great big O I think has got to the heart of the footballing problems and that is the lack of guile and creativity and if we crack that and become less predictable (the inclusion of 2 or 3 new players or loan signings is all it really needs) then Aidy plus hopefully a replacement for Burkinshaw will be half way to the clubs stated aim and ambitious target

Don’t shout this to loudly but most of us don’t actually care if we see (more) entertaining and creative football in THIS division rather than the Premiership but if Aidy does make the same mistake as he did after his first ever season as a manager and clumsily gets us promotion we will all forgive him even if our bank balances do take a might beating

His employers want him to deliver top flight football and even if we don’t all buy into Vision 2010 at least we will all havebeen there for the ride, witnessed the brightest and most ambitious manager of his generation starting his promising career and applying his wisdom and craft in a new stadium we will all be proud to call home

Oh and the reason why nearly 50 different people have contributed to this thread (after we lost a match) is because we all CARE

56. Stuart - 26/04/2008

Whatever will be will be and no matter what anyone says on here will change things I’m afraid. That’s life.

57. markymark - 26/04/2008

Just when I thought things could not get any worse,they have! We lost at home to a team already relegated weeks ago when a win would have cemented a play off place.
If we do get in the playoffs we have absolutely zero chance of winning.In all the years of the playoffs in all divisions I don’t think I can remember a team with worse current form than ours!!!!!!!

58. tet - 27/04/2008

It’s not were we are that winds me up. I’d be happy with that at any time I’ve been following Watford.

It’s the pay the players are getting. For the money they earn a decent performance should not be too much to ask. You may as well get in a group of players from the conference @ £500pw then maybe we could of afforded the new stand.

As it is we’ve spent all our money from last year on player wages with not enough left in the pot if we stay in this division to pay the same team next season.

When Aidy arrived it was a wake up call for the entire team he was not afraid to play any member of the entire squad even the groundsman if necessary he’s still doing that this season but not down to the level previously seen.

I think we’ll still be in div 2 next season and they’ll be a sea of change. With a lot of the big name players leaving.

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