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Watford 3 Blackpool 4 (01/11/2008) 01/11/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Five thunks from the mayhem against the Seasiders

1- Of all the decent players that have left the club over the past few years, the one you’d have back quickest – with the possible exception of Ben Foster – and with a few fewer miles on the clock, would be Malky Mackay.  Which begs the question… how can a defence that is being “coached” by Mackay look as utterly, comprehensively, incapable of doing the job?

2- The passage of goals makes the result seem a triumph of guts and belief for the visitors.  In truth, whilst we will host inferior teams this season, Blackpool merely needed to be competent and competitive in defence and persistent in attack.  Indeed, had they wisened up to our defensive inadequacies sooner, they might have secured the result earlier than the last minute. 

3- Have I mentioned our defence yet?  Richard Lee, having displayed all his greatest assets against Southampton and Cardiff, has displayed his worst in the last two games.  Ward, as Dave pointed out during the game, looks exactly as he did when he first broke into the Watford side nearly a decade ago, and still heads the ball straight upwards.  Demerit had an absolute shocker.  And not a leader amongst them.

4- So much for entertainment.  The novelty is wearing off a little… I’d take an ugly point at Swansea with both hands.

5- Final word to Will Hoskins, the jewel in the crown of what was nonetheless a vibrant attacking performance.  Back in from the cold and no mistake.


1. Sirhornet - 01/11/2008

The truly frightening thing is that there was a crushing sense of inevitability about this. The back five were utterly woeful today. Doyley and Sadler seem totally reluctant to tackle and Lee’s keeping was abysmal.

I have to wonder (having only seen him at Reading in 2006) just how bad is Avinel if he cannot get in this team?

Unfortunately a relegation struggle looms and I just cant see us grinding out the 0-0’s and 1-0’s that we will need to stay up. Where relegation would leave the club financially, who knows? All in all I feel very bleak this evening.

2. simonw - 01/11/2008

SHEEEESH….you couldn’t make it up, could you?! Anyway….
If you see a fellow ‘Orn out walking a dog, ring this helpline 3-2 3-3 3-4 as soon as possible, as he probably won’t be very good at holding on to a lead….

3. Tim Turner - 02/11/2008

There was an elderly bloke a few rows back from me in the Rookery who devoted the minutes after the final whistle to yelling ‘Boothroyd out!’ at the top of his voice. My initial reaction was to tell him to go fornicate with himself, and I still can’t quite see what Aidy can actually do about this situation.

He can’t go out and buy better defenders – there’s no money, and borrowing Darren Ward is the best we can manage, and as you point out, he has his limitations – and he’s stuck with Richard Lee in goal unless he takes the bold step of dropping him in favour of a loan goalie who may only be here another few weeks.

So, like you, I’m inclined to think that the onus is on Messrs Mackay and Chamberlain to get us out of this mess. If you can’t buy better players, the only option is to improve the ones you’ve got. Right now, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

4. Dai Crwban - 02/11/2008

A few more thunks:

– Doyley is not a footballer and never will be. To think that we have had so much money available in the last two years and we’re still playing him at right back is shocking. Nothing personal, and he tries hard, but sorry, he’s utterly useless…fact
– Sadler. Was he really worth a chunky fee and no doubt high wages? Harley looks a million times better and cost nowt (but agree is better in the middle)
– Lee. Has never inspired confidence and this is the worst he’s ever played for us…
– Rasiak. Class act and on a different wavelength to all but Smith and sometimes Hoskins (who is also looking good)

The average points per game has now been about 1 since a year ago. That’s enough games to take the temperature over, and is relegation form whichever way you look at it. AB is looking painfully short of ideas to fix what he has, and few signs today of the togetherness of 2005/6. Also where’s Ashley Young / Markon King when you need them…

5. JohnF - 02/11/2008

On a bitterly cold and miserable day we were looking for some cheer and that was provided by the attackers, particularly Will Hoskins. Otherwise it was miserable. Once again we were simply rubbish defensively and the form of the back five (whichever combination) is pulling the midfield very deep indeed. The fault is largely with the back five but giving silly free kicks away doesn’t help. Are we really such a small team that we can’t win a decent header from the middle of the park back to our own line? Why are the two full backs permanently panic stricken and how come we look so painfully slow in defence? As Matt says, not a leader among the defenders.
I don’t know what the options are now. Avinel does not look the answer as he isn’t very tall and is fairly easily muscled off the ball. Parkes needs games at a higher level in order to develop but surely he will not be worse than Sadler, and he has to be quicker. On the right heaven only knows.
There are now very serious questions about Aidy’s management abilities and the coaching. We have seen many backroom staff sacked over the past three years, all probably with significant compensation but now we have no money so we could be stuck with this lot all the way to the next division unless they can engineer a change in the minds of the defenders and instill some confidence and organisation.

6. The Great Big O - 02/11/2008

Though we lost, that was a better watch than anything I saw last season (except Colchester at home). I’ve seen four home games this season and they’ve all been excellent entertainment.

There were lots of positives. Harley’s breaks down the left. Hoskins’s movement. Rasiak’s passes in behind the defence. Smith’s consistent threat on the right – and determination to take the penalty.

If the front four hadn’t been playing so well, it would have been an abject home thrashing, offering no prospect of staying out of the relegation zone. Instead, I was thoroughly entertained yet again, and am still relatively hopeful.

I’m enjoying my football again.

7. duds - 02/11/2008

i knew it wouldn’t be our day when i heard dave mess had scored in the morning. i mean 2 miracles in 1 day – it ain’t gonna happen.

but have you ever seen a defence and keeper so lacking in any confidence – someone has got to take charge and quickly

8. Daf - 02/11/2008

On a lighter note, pleased to see the return of the thunks. I wouldnt have been able to stand a match report.

9. Red - 02/11/2008

Intrestingly I thought Jays comments in the program seemed to have summed it all up. It is true about our defence but at the same time we did hit the inside of the post, only for it to come out again, in the first half. Would we have played more confidently if it had gone in? Exciting when attacking but truely awful when defending. Every defender wants a dominant goalkeeper, bossing his defenders around and shouting all the time. Is that RL?
This is definitely a nose to the grindstone time. We need to work on the simple things, such as ……. Why, when we have the ball for a throw in, is there no-one to throw the ball to? Still enjoying it but getting fed up with the visiting fans enjoying it more.

10. Esp - 02/11/2008

Totally agree with Matt – it might be entertaining for neutrals (thanks Aidy for stating the bleeding obvious – if that’s all the consolation you can give the fans maybe you should not say a word. Your post match speeches are sounding as desperate as Alan Pardew’s was yesterday). “Ugly scraps” to win 3 points are what’s required now; hell we can wait until we get home and watch X Factor for entertainment.
I know McAnuff splits the supporters (in the same way as Doyley) but before the match on Glory Horns I put him in my starting line up. It is tempting also to put DeMerit back on the bench but our lack of leadership and lack of central defenders rather makes that view redundant unfortunately.
My mate in the LR stand Rob Horne said at half time that at 2-1 we HAD to score the next goal as we certainly didn’t look comfortable with the lead; rather like the Blades match the oppositions’ height and stregnth were vastly superior to ours.
Mildly entertaining but 15 goals AGAINST at home tells it’s own story. It was frankly a result that encapsulates our season so far: one step forward and 2 steps back.
A bottom half finish is guaranteed but maybe with Swansea slipping up recently we could have a decent cup run on our hands – we need some short term optimism somewhere.
Positives: Hoskins is hungry and always looks like scoring; Rasiak looks better than Priskin. Negatives: our total lack of an offside trap with the most gulilty party being Ward, our Keystone Kops back five. Also time for Tyler to swap shirts with Richard and I didn’t think I would ever write that being a Lee fan

11. Aylesbury 'Orn - 02/11/2008

The team looks completely open to me and the most shocking period of the game was after we had gone 1-0 up when Blackpool poured forward and it was definitely a case of not if but when they would score.
I’m not sure whether we were playing 3 or 4 across the midfield yesterday but we looked overrun there and the Back 4 for all its faults would defintely benefit from greater protection from the midfield.
During the 2nd half I was actually questionning why Malky couldn’t return to the team to give a bit of organisiation and postional sense to the Back 4 until I remembered that he was on his last legs three years ago and is now 37 – I blame the rain (I was sitting at the front of the Rookery) and the cold for my delusional thoughts.
These are dark times.

12. DM - 02/11/2008

That’s the last time I buy you a half time Guinness Duds !

Agree though – Someone has got to take responsibility. The entire back 5 are looking for someone else to take charge and get them organised. And on current form, those in reserve are little better than the players that performed so dreadfully yesterday.

What’s particularly galling is that Bromby, Sadler, DeMerit and Doyely have played regularly and been reliable, consistent performers in promotion campaigns within the last three years – They have not suddenly become bad players. There is a lack of organisation and it’s now derailing what had been boiling into a watchable and enjoyable season. Time to get it sorted. 7 goals in 3 home games and 1 point to show for it is not good enough.

13. Simon in Oz - 02/11/2008

Parallel universe or what!
On Saturday I watched my Australian team, Sydney FC, butcher a 3:0 lead after 65 minutes and end up drawing 3:3.
“It can’t get worse than this,” I thought.
As the BBC World Service results came through at 4am, I realised that it could.

14. Paul Wiggins - 03/11/2008

Where are you Gavin Mahon now that your people need you!
I think I’ve seen 6 previous relegations and this smells like a relegation season.
I’ve always been a big supporter of Aidy but he seems helpless. We so badly need a leader.
Boring football and sixth in the table – yes please!!

15. Andy - 03/11/2008

Thunk 4 – I couldn’t have thunked that anymore as I walked up Occupation Road I just thought “Yes it’s entertaining but this is actually getting ridiculous”. I was also very angry about the shambles at the back. Blackpool, what a limited side. Easiest 4 goals they’ll get this season (although their goal 2 was a bit of class). Hoskins work rate is fantastic and he took his goal well.

16. Big Tone - 03/11/2008

You can ask all the serious questions you like about Aidy’s abilities. The point is, we couldn’t afford to get rid of him and who else of any worth would come in to a cashstrapped relegation threatened club with political turmoil in the boardroom?

Aidy has done exactly what I would want him to do – dish out a larger than life b*llocking to the back 5 (and probably Malky too) and get back on the training ground early doors and sort this f*cking mess out.

Just like the players, Aidy hasn’t become crap overnight, or even over a season, we just need him to get his head straight like it was before.

As Tim Turner says, we can’t replace what we’ve got, so the only option is to make what we’ve got work.

And Gavin Mahon?

4 years ago maybe…

17. simmo - 03/11/2008

Paul W – I disagree that this feels like a relegation season. In the past whenever we have gone down it was because we couldn’t score enough goals rather than our failings in defence. I accept that we keep on losing by the odd goal but feel we can turn this around. I would be far more worried if we were not creating chances.

Before the season began I couldn’t see where the goals were coming from, so to score so many in recent weeks leads me to believe we can get out of this.

18. Dan - 03/11/2008

It’s all very well to pine for a safe upper mid-table finish with football as dull as last year. But in reality, we were showing relegation form for the last few months, AND playing terrible football. So while we are also displaying relegation form this time around, at least we are doing it with style.

That said, Saturday was a kick in the teeth. Blackpool are not a very good side, and if you lose to sides like that at home then the bottom three beckons. I remain optimistic, because we are still scoring, but increasingly it looks as though we need a mid-season personnel change similar to the acquisitions of Foster and Millen a few years ago in order to turn the defence around.

While all of the back four were terrible yesterday, a special mention to Matt Sadler who has been truly awful since he came back from injury. The time has come to put Harley back there, even if it limits his effectiveness. I would then play three across the middle (JJOT, Eustace, Williamson), and Smudger and Hoskins supporting Rasiak. Well, it’s a formation that works for me in Football Manager…

19. Matt Rowson - 03/11/2008

I’d probably put Willo in for O’Toole; otherwise keep same personnel and just have Willo and Eustace sitting deep as they were earlier in the season, shielding the back four. This asks a lot of both the wide men and the deeper striker (Hoskins?) but Hoskins, Harley and Smith are all fit enough and adept enough to do it. You’d need McAnuff and Robinson or Ainsworth on the bench as cover though. That said, a big bastard of a centre back as DM suggests, plus the return of Loach, would be nice.

20. Esp - 03/11/2008

I like that formation Dan if it allows Harley to go wide left.

Although I am that rarity (a Macanuff fan) I think at the moment him and Ainsworth just haven’t shown enough quality to start against Swansea although at the back I would find a place for Bromby’s throw-in (see Delap’s performance at the weekend to see how effective that can be, used effectively)

If Aidy is rersistant to dropping Demerit or Ward then Leigh could replace the woefully out of form Doley

Lastly Big Tone wrote: “who else of any worth would come in to a cashstrapped relegation threatened club with political turmoil in the boardroom?”

I give you (after the Toon takeover) Mr Joe Kinnear who may well bring Bucks resident Dennis Wise with him 🙂

21. JohnF - 03/11/2008

Of course the discussion regarding Harley is academic as far as Sunday is concerned because he is suspended. We need him and I wish he would sort this aspect of his game out. The booking on Saturday was silly. He made a mistake and went and kicked somebody to make himself feel better. It’ll be interesting to see what Aidy decides. If it is MacAnuff, this will be when he really has to deliver both as a defender and attacker. If not I think we should be trying to unload him in January, rather than somebody who does what is needed.

22. Mike Peter - 03/11/2008

Bring back Danny Cullip!

23. Matt Rowson - 03/11/2008

JohnF… agree entirely. Four of Harley’s five bookings have been for this sort of sulky response to losing the ball/not getting a free kick.

esp… stoke’s approach is effective because (almost) the only person in their team who’s NOT built like a brick shithouse is the bloke taking the throw. We couldn’t make it work with Big Dan and Doris in there – we’re hardly going to be any more successful when only Rasiak, O’Toole and Ward have any height. Rasiak and O’Toole aren’t bullies, and Ward can’t direct a header to save his life.

24. bob - 03/11/2008

worst home display of the season, a real shame.

the telling off on sunday should have been simple;

to mssrs doyley and sadler – tighter and what ever happens, stop letting them get inside you or crossing on first ask. remember, however much the crowd like him, our keeper is useless at crosses. oh, and i am sorry but i’m dontating your wages to the local donkey farm. now off to swindon on loan with you.

to Mssrs Lee, Ward and Demerit – billy smarts should have you 3 on loan unitl xmas. clowns. thank your lucky stars i have no one else to cover your positions, otherwise you’d be dropped even if the senior herts cup was coming up… and try talking to one another.

not one of you back 5 deserve a game again this month.

to all in midfield – try wining the second ball when it comes out of defence and stop playing so deep. give your defence a breather, they’re crap enough as it is.

to those up front – sorry you have to carry this shower. none of us thought you would score in a brothel pre-season, but you’ve proved us wrong. its just that the lot at the back cant defend for toffee.

immediate remedy ‘would’ have been bromby for doyley and harley for sadler but for the petualnce and booking.

25. Old Git - 03/11/2008

I disagree with you there Matt. In support of Darren Ward, he is excellent at sending his headers in a perfectly vertical direction.

By the way, for the record I am not the ‘elderly bloke’ referred to in Point 3, above.

26. Big Tone - 03/11/2008

Esp – Had we still have had a certain Mr Aflick on the WO reporting staff, it would almost have been worth it for the press conferences alone…

Almost, mind.

27. Jonathon - 03/11/2008

What’s everyone’s views on Aidy having left “by mutual consent” then?

Incidentally, I knew at half time we would lose 4-3 to a last minute winner…how many times have we seen that at the Vic?

Hoskins did well (as per)
I thought Eustace was a somewhat calming influence in midfield.
Lee, well, this is getting as predictable as the scorelines…

And, on another disappointing note, after seeing them at Bloomfield Road and then on Soccer AM, the two Tangerine Drummers were nowhere to be found (or heard…)

28. Sequel - 03/11/2008

Prior to saturday, Blackpool hadn’t scored more than one goal in any of their previous 12 away games….oops.
Anyway. When I were a lad, I seem to remember we had an awful start to the 1983-84 season: a 4-3 defeat at home to Everton and a 5-4 reverse here against Arsenal drawing the MOTD cameras to the Vic on a regular basis. I recall the Sports Report summariser musing about how he always ran out of note paper at Watford. How we laughed.
What was GT’s solution to our defensive problem? Shell out for Paul McGrath? Fork out for Dave Watson?
No, he reached down the back of the settee for some loose change and bought Mo Johnston. I suppose the thinking was to give the opposition a decent striker to worry about, thereby taking the pressure off our defence. Whatever; it worked (well, apart from the 6 we let in at Norwich)

29. DS - 05/11/2008

4- So much for entertainment. The novelty is wearing off a little… I’d take an ugly point at Swansea with both hands.

Can’t say I agree with this. For the first time in seemingly ages I’ve actually been entertained at watford games. Even the defending is so bad it’s funny. Lighten up people – It’s only football and I would take entertainment over wins any day.

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