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Watford 2 Coventry City 1 (13/12/2008) 13/12/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Five Thunks from the win over Cov

1- Well that was Much More Like It.  Compelling, convincing, and fully deserving of victory.  No coincidence that Lee Williamson was back in the engine room.

2- We didn’t even look particularly wobbly at the back.  I mean, the defence still isn’t going to be hired to protect any visiting heads of state any time soon… but today was a hell of an improvement.  Your heart wasn’t in your mouth every time the ball came into the box for starters.  Aidy Mariappa could maybe do with a run at centre-back, whence he captained the youth team…

3- The rain.  I’m not complaining;  we played the conditions much more effectively than Cov and it was a remarkably positive showing from both sides in the circumstances.  But… it didn’t seem likely that the game would finish, as late as the end of the first half.  Bonus marks to Chris Coleman for stopping short of Walker (R)’s plausible enough prediction in his post-match comments.

4- Had lunch at the Purple Cafe next to the Palace Theatre.  Perhaps Clinton Morrison, pantomime villain, had come to the wrong venue.  Cretin.

5- Yeah, I know we’re brassic.  And I know that I’ve had time to adjust to the idea.  And I know that, much as he’ll be a fabulous player, and is already an effective goalscorer, John Joe O’Toole is a sensible player to market given the limited impact (relative to what he’ll fetch) that his departure will have on the team.  But you couldn’t help but have a lump in your throat as he threw his shirt into the Rookery at the end.  Hey ho.


1. stephen hoffman - 13/12/2008

matt im one of williamson’s biggest fans but i think you got it totally wrong about his performance today – he had a very poor game by his standards – he was trying to piss patter pass in those conditions why -and he just didn’t have much effect . i also got to be honest i didn’t think we were that great priskin looked disinterested and for me are attack looks better with 2 up there – i do agree the defence looks more solid , but i cant help think are attack looked more potent under both malky and aidy.also why was harley taken off ?

2. Matt Emulsion - 14/12/2008

“but i cant help think ”

I think I see where you’re going wrong Hoff (may I call you that?). Personally I recommend a holiday till about June with a liberal dose of English Lessons by way of a cure.

3. James - 14/12/2008

I’d agree with all of that Matt, except “fully deserving of victory”. I don’t think we really outplayed or outfought Coventry, we simply made a few less mistakes. A draw wouldn’t have been unfair or unexpected. Picking up wins like this certainly bodes well though.

The defence did seem to be better, although the conditions helped them a bit. Lloyd didn’t have to be involved in any passing, and Sadler’s winger was getting slowed down by the mud. An improvement though, nevertheless.
Bromby was excellent again, and Mariappa continues to look more like a centre-half than a full-back.

Williamson looked much happier back in the middle, but I think he needs to put a bit more pace on the balls he delivers into the box. Especially corners.
Without a real aerial threat we’re just not going to win floaty crosses no matter how accurate they are. At least with a driven ball in the forwards have a chance of getting on the end of it.

I think you’re right about O’Toole too. Much as though I’d hate to see him go. If his sale could pay to keep Smith here, at least until the end of the season, then that’s a price worth paying.

4. JohnF - 14/12/2008

An odd game but 3 points and great relief. Given what were appalling conditions it is difficult to comment realistically on performances. They were all tiring in the second half from trying to run and play football in a couple of inches of water (bit of an exag but you know what I mean). I agree Matt that we coped better with the conditions but I still had my heart in my mouth when Coventry started to bomb balls into our penalty area. However, agreed the defence played better as a unit and I thought Sadler had a much better game, possibly because his winger was ankle deep in water and had to slow down. Really sorry that it looks as though JJ may be leaving and really concerned about the injury to young Jenkins. Well done the management team as well with pragmatic selection and wise changes. I think Harley was substituted before he was carried off with exhaustion, awsome energy. At least we can save on the chief executive’s salary.

5. Wat4Steve - 14/12/2008

Why do people continue to knock Priskin! He is a proven international forward.

3 in 4 and won a penalty today. His touch is the best in the team and technically he is on a different level to everyone else. OK he doesn’t chase own lost causes but that isn’t his way. Not every player has to run around like a headless chicken. Watford’s problem is they need a player to play well off him. I thought Hoskins looked that player but he seems to out of favour again.

6. Matt Rowson - 14/12/2008

James – I thought that in both halves we gradually wrestled control of the game. On that basis we deserved to win. I didn’t see it as a scrap that we edged as you imply.

re. Williamson corners… agree about his delivery, but he’s suffering in the same way that Jordan Stewart did from being the best of a poor bunch of set piece takers at the club. We’d be much better off if someone delivered as you suggest; in the absence of that someone Williamson perseveres and gets stick for it.

Wat4Steve… Priskin increasingly looks the part for me; yesterday, though, it was frustrating that given the conditions he didn’t do a bit more chasing down, particularly of the keeper.

7. Walker (R) - 14/12/2008

Ref Thunk 3:
Reading Coleman’s post-match detritus, I DO feel vindicated in suggesting he would allude to the conditions rather than talking of how his team is just as flaky and inconsistent as 80% of the others in this division.

Due to certain recent departures, this was the first time I’d gone to a match smiling…and I left it smiling given the application and determination of our players to continue their season re-build.

Hats off all round.

8. Matt Rowson - 14/12/2008

Well he was never going to say that. No Coventry manager has a hope if they’re prepared to admit that their side is just fodder, such is Coventry’s eternal lot. But he didn’t blame the conditions for the defeat, much as he wittered about them, which given his previous post-match performances must have taken some restraint.

9. Dave Hart - 14/12/2008

I thought our fullbacks played much better today, although their rather tubby left winger Jay Tabb was never going to outpace Doyley. I though Jenkins did very well at right mid, letting Williamson get much more involved in the middle of the park.

When I saw the conditions before kick off, I had a feeling that Robinson would play a part in the game. The match was suited to long punts forward, so his pace would be a threat. You get the feeling that if it was Robinson, not Priskin, who had been one on one with the defender (just before Theo came on), it would have been a different story.

Last season, we got to the stadium a little earlier, and got to watch the strikers’ shooting practise. Week in week out, Priskin and Smith’s finishing were both vastly superior to our other strikers (including King). If Priskin works on his positional sense, he could be one hell of a player for us.

10. Red - 14/12/2008

Enjoyable football again. Proper football, even though it did take same time for some players on both sides to realise that the ball would not travel far on the deck.Morrison is a twerp (forgive the strong language). Did anyone else see Theo give out the slips of paper when he came on? Ross read his and then put his in his sock! A new way for our management to communicate with the players or a cheap way to give out Christmas cards? A shame that JJs shot hit the bar-now that would be a way to finish.

11. Mark - 14/12/2008

We delt with the conditions well and I did think were the better side so deserving of the 3 points.

Couldn’t really fault any of the players for performances and the Robinson sub was quite effective actually.

As on Wednesday it was nice to bunce back so quickly from giving a goala way.

12. MartinG - 14/12/2008

John-Joe was very good yesterday. Be a shame if he goes as well as Tommy (£3m to Stoke latest rumour).

I agree with your 2nd thunk. It’s the first time in ages I’ve felt relatively relaxed when the opposition had the ball. The defence looked more confident. Though it would be good if Loach was a bit more assertive. Some save in the first half though.

Also like the fact Rodgers gives the subs a bit of time to make an impact (and gets them on quickly – Aidy used to drive me nuts with all the instructions, bits of paper etc. then finally the sub would come on with 5 mins left)

13. graham - 14/12/2008

Re – 3; I am told that the referee asked the two managers if they were willing for the game to be played and, once they had expressed the desire to go ahead with the game, told them he would pass the pitch fit for play subject to them not subsequently criticising the conditions or, by impication, his decision to proceed. He did similarly again at half time. Thus Coleman couldn’t really complain too much.

As for Priskin – he will do for me. I thought he had another good game, outstanding skills given the conditions

14. Sirhornet - 14/12/2008

All in all, a quite enjoyable game. I for one liked the random element that the rain introduced.

It seems we have gone from a manager who didn’t seem to have a plan “B” to one who seems to have tried an alphabet of plans already!

15. derry pigweed - 14/12/2008

A great result in very bad conditions,Coventry keeper kept the result respectable, Good Performance and most players in the correct positions Well Done Watford and Brendan!

16. DM - 14/12/2008

Much, much better than the no-shows against Donny and Naaarwich. Forward passing, a bit of fight and some moments of high entertainment. More please Watford.

Williamson back in the centre – huzzah for that. We won more 2nd balls and 50/50’s in there as a result, and even if his passing could have been a bit better on the day, his all-round performance made a big difference to Watford’s energy levels and attacking play.

Priskin – ran his socks off, won one penalty and should have had another. Don’t see how anyone can knock him on current form. We’re finally seeing him produce the goods and the longer a run in the side he gets, the better I think he’ll become.

Defence – Much improved but still work to do. It’s not saying much, but all of the back 4 put up a season’s best showing and while the marking at set pieces was lax at times, and the communication between our defenders was still not great, we generally coped well with their extra height at set plays and the movement of that moaning little sh1te Morrison. How nice to go through 90 mins without conceding a goal that could be attributed to a defensive howler !

We also did a good job of stopping crosses into the box, which has been a real stumbling block recently. Playing Jenkins and Harley in the wide midfield positions helped with that one as their wide men rarely got the chance to run at Doyley and Sadler. Nice tactical move from the new manager there. Loach did well too, his handling of the greasy ball was particularly good.

The real star men were Smith and O’Toole – Smith led from the front and took two men with him every time he ran with the ball, while O’Toole’s happy knack of being in the right place paid off once again. Moaning that both will probably be gone soon is pointless, and that situation doesn’t detract from a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with more plusses than negatives for the first time under the new manager.

Final word goes to Lozza, who came out with one of those classic commentator moments – while the ball bobbled around in the Cov box, he said “I can’t see us scoring again”…. just as JJ O’T pulled back his foot to smash home the winner. Geddin there…

17. stephen hoffman - 15/12/2008

people already seem to be trying to stick the knife into aidy , forgetting that all he had was half a bad season , people have very short memories.

18. Wat4Steve - 15/12/2008

Hoff that glass very half full and admirable may I say. Some would argue all he had was one very good season!

Dave Hart – Perhaps the defender just made a good tackle, it does happen mate. I guess you’re one of those who will always knock the guy. I have one that sits behind me! Did you see his goal re Spurs? Took two premiership defenders (one who is regarded by many as the best English defender) out of the game with one turn and placed the ball into the bottom corner of the net with his weaker foot…… Name me another Watford Player capable of doing that? Last time I saw a player turn like that was the little Scottish player.

I also think he has great positional sense drifts into position and links well with the play. Defenders have real problem at this level picking him up. Hence my comment we need a partner who is going to play well off him. For me TS & TP are similar in that they both like taking up deep positions. Hoskins would play on the shoulder of the last defender and stretch the play, which IMHO for two or three games worked really well before Tamas got sent off.

Berbatov doesn’t chase lost causes does that make him a bad player? Some people just like whole hearted players and don’t appreciate talent. Take DeMerit for example can’t knock his commitment but the fact is we have been better without him, far less mistakes. I believe you are expecting TP to be a target man he clearly is not that, he is a touch player and should thrive under Buck’s management style.

Had Smith had the same vision to play Tamas in in the second half instead of try to squeeze one past the keeper at the near post TP would have scored again today. That is not to knock Tommy merely pointing out some people always look for the negatives in certain players and overlook the positives in others. I guess we all have our favourites.

19. Ian Lay - 15/12/2008

Matt you’re Mr. Stat, How does Aidy’s win/lose/draw ratio compare with other Watford managers. I would expect he comes near the top.

Also we mustn’t forget that Aidy is the only manager, other than GT, who has taken us to the top flight. The football may not have been appealing to us fans at times but, but he acheived more than most Watford managers have.

If Mr Rodgers can acheive what Aidy did then we surely are in for some fun times ahead.

20. Matt Rowson - 15/12/2008

P176 W65 (37%) D51 (29%) L60 (34%)

P150 W51 (34%) D39 (26%) L60 (40%)

P52 W20 (38%) D11 (21%) L21 (41%)

Taylor (2nd spell)
P275 W104 (38%) D80 (29%) L91 (33%)

Not that you’re comparing like with like of course, particularly in terms of resources; I’d suggest that Lewington’s figures are cast in a more positive light than Vialli’s with that in mind.

21. Esp - 15/12/2008

Re: stats of course BR (BR ’70’s advert: “We’re getting there…”) has only lost one league match so far so his stats after 5 matches in charge aren’t too shabby either Mr Lay!!

james you echoed some of my thoughts
“Doyley didn’t have to play a passing game” check
“We still have no aerial threat” check (still a worry)
“Mariappa..more a centre-half than a full-back” check
“Williamson must improve on corners” check check check!!

Apart from penalties which we generally score from (this season) our record of scoring from corners (any set play) is still woeful and that has to be something BR needs to impove on (probably with another visit to Chelsea reserves) eg I never expect us to score from FK’s and that has to be wrong

I think DM missed another “star man” to pick out (along with his Smith and O’Toole) and that was our excellent new man Bromley (sic) http://www.ccfc.co.uk/page/MatchReport – I think they meant Bromby!

Although I picked up some of Mr Coral’s cash with Smith’s first goal I would have been even more happier with my predicted 3-1 and the soggy Moss (Mr) on the pitch should have awarded us a 2nd minute penalty when Elliott Ward theatrically knocked Priskin down (stonewall imho) although I think the conditions were (wrongly) given the benefit of the doubt

Finally I do have to disagree with MR about it not being a scrap – it WAS a scrap, a very entertaining one; it was just that the conditions favoured us as ig has said elsewhere this weekend – why even a Hoofroyd team would have won that encounter 😉

22. Dan - 15/12/2008

Agree with the general sentiment here, much better and I thought Sadler played well for a second game in succession. Please to see we played sensibly, given the conditions, not too many attempts to play it sideways. These are the important games to win: home games against other average sides. If we keep doing that we’ll be fine.

Re Matt’s stat – it should be be noted that Taylor and Betty both managed a Watford side in the Premier League, which is always going to do some damage to your win percentage.

23. Esp - 15/12/2008

One more name to be added to DM’s star men (agree with O’Toole and Smith); our new player Bromley (sic) was superb. Although I think http://www.ccfc.co.uk/page/MatchReport may have got Leigh’s name wrong!

Not often I disagree with MattR but I DID feel that game was a scrap it is just that (as ig has written elsewhere at the weekend) the conditions very much suited us. But full credit to Coleman for not using the weather as an excuse, he publicly said that his side failed to adapt as well

I must agree with james’ points, all of which I have thought myself

“Lloyd didn’t have to be involved in any passing” check
BR let Doyley play to his strengths, there were rumours before the game that Avinel was playing but the rain was on LD’s side
“No aerial threat” check
we have nobody to get on the end of Willo’s corners and our free kicks need a lot of work; apart from penalties I never get excited that we are going to score from dead balls or set plays
A lanky loanee please in January?
“Mariappa continues to look more like a centre-half than a full-back” check, in the absence of anyone else good enough I think Doyley’s position on either side is guaranteed

RichardW walked to the ground with a smile on his face; I didn’t as I was worried the game would be abandoned (in which case Priskin would have scored as he did in the last postponed match v Wigan) – but the mood was certainly lifted at full time. Still only one league loss for the new man and the lads clearly enjoy playing under him (with the possible exception of McAnuff who I just WISH someone would take off our hands – Colin??)

24. Gerry G - 15/12/2008

It’s always interesting to read this blog which is so much more interesting, and the comments more to the point, than the waffle on some mailing lists I could name, so thanks to all. I’m depressed to see talk of John-Jo and Smudger going, though. Smudger in particular is the real star of the squad, a diamond of quality on a dungheap of mediocrity, and without him we’d be bottom. The chances of his being replaced for nearly nothing are as close to nil as makes no difference. If he goes, we go down, IMO. We may get a few million in the short term if we’re lucky, minus the various deductions if there are any sell-on clauses in his contract and of course agents fees and tax, but we’ll lose far more if we go down as the gap between the 2nd and 3rd tiers has grown pretty wide. Many sides promoted from the 3rd struggle as much as sides promoted to the Premiership, even ‘big’ clubs like Nottm Forest. If we went down we’d be a long time down, I fear, so it makes financial sense to hang on to prize assets.

25. Matt Rowson - 15/12/2008

GerryG… I agree that Smudge is important, and comfortably our best player. Whilst we’d struggle if he left, particularly if little of the money is available to Rodgers, I don’t agree that we’d be a write-off. You’ve got to be pretty rubbish to be relegated from this division, as we’ve demonstrated a few times over the years.

26. Walker (R) - 15/12/2008

I’d tend to agree with 22. Gerry G more than you Matt, 23. on Smiff.
I find it strange to be typing this since I always had him in the “not putting it all in” category when he first matured onto the scene in the early 00s.
Now, however, he really is the lynch-pin and – hapless as Donny, Forest, Charlton et al are – take Smith out and you remove not only a genuine goal threat but also a supply line and space to operate for others. That’s just a reflection on the transformation he’s gone through since returning to us (or perhaps before returning, it matters not).
He will be sold, there’s little doubt of it. However of all the recent financial gambles staked against the club’s future, keeping Smith in January seems on a far smaller scale to signing a procession of average Joes and paying them the sort of wages which means they’ll be retiscent to leave when we try and ship them on in January or June.

27. Ian Lay - 16/12/2008

Interesting Matt. I would agree about Lewington. He also had a good knack of getting us playing above ourselves in cup competitions.

Aidy’s record holds quite well to GT’s second spell. And both these managers had a season in the top flight where we weren’t realistically expected to survive (Dan’s point above), yet they still lost less games as a percentage than Vialli.

Whatever people think of Aidy’s style and management he is still, arguabley, the second best manager we’ve had.

Quick comments on players out/tranfer window.

Quote in a paper today that Mcanuff can go for 1 million in january. If this is true and it looks like O’Toole is also going, could that be enough to keep Smith? I hope so.

Anyway enough of this tomfoolery, I return you to your normal programming schedule.

28. JohnF - 16/12/2008

From the AGM on Monday the position seems to be that we do need to sell/unload in January. Smith will not be stopped from going if he wants to and the prospect of a big pay day may well be attractive to him inspite of the fact he has said he wants to stay. If he doesn’t want to go I don’t think he will be forced out. There are rumours that a couple of chempionship sides are interested in MacAnuff so keep your fingers crossed. Rogers is after loan defenders and I suspect we need that more than anything. I agree with Matt, Smith is very important but we do have talent in the club and if he goes it creates an opportunity for one of the others such as Hoskins. We just have to wait and see what transpires but this needs also to be a transitional season on the way to some sensible and sustainable cost control, otherwise administration and a 10 point deduction could beckon.

29. Gerry G - 16/12/2008

Matt, I’m not so sure that you’ve “got to be pretty rubbish to be relegated from this division” looking at sides that have gone down, or have escaped doom by a hairs-breadth. Scunthorpe last year were a good side and had been promoted easily from the 3rd tier, but their defence was found wanting in the face of more skilful and clinical 2nd tier attacks. Similarly Nottm Forest this season, who play some very good football but have a porous defence and are odds-on for the drop. Our defence isn’t exactly rock-solid, and our attacking options revolve around Smudger who’s put in IIRC 14 goals this season and has made as many, as well as being a lynchpin as Walker (R) (any relation to Whites (R)? ;-)) points out. More to the point, he was cheap. Flogging him would represent poor business IMO as Clodagh would be hard-pushed to find such a quality player for a mill or more likely less in the January sales, let alone one that would want to join a relegation-threatened club.

30. Johnny Boy - 16/12/2008

Find the whole Smudger ( a name unfortunately given him by Vialli I believe) debate absorbing because he is obviously our best player moving towards icon status. Also, comming back as he did at the begining of the Premiership season means he will be on premiership wages – £1miliion+ so from the clubs point of view there is a double saving to be made – a fee plus wages.
From Tommy’s position, he is back at his hometown team, living locally, and club captain and a contract for another 1&1/2 years. If Watford were to extend his contract he would no doubt be happy to stay but that ain’t going to happen. Even a three year contract with the likes of Bolton/Stoke who still have a two year parachute if relegated is a better option than seeing what he might get in 2010.
I think, probably stupidley, that Jobi or Will could perform in the Smith role although the former is deseparetly out of form and the latter might be getting pissed off at continually being overlooked. More worrying is the loss of John Joe who I thought had a blinder on Saturday and was our only really attacking midfielder with both Willo and Ross playing more defensively.
Who is going to bring the ball forward if he goes?

31. stephen hoffman - 17/12/2008

he didn’t just have one good season with all the will in the world , no manager was going to keep us up in the premier and i personally this year he would have turned it around -we weren’t playing bad football after all – and he gave hoskins a chance finally – take note brendan on giving hoskins a chance.

32. stephen hoffman - 17/12/2008

also demerit for what we paid for him , (nothing) from northwood we are definitely much better with him, he was just getting back to form until he got injured and to be fair this season it hasn’t helped he hasn’t had a proper run in the team due to injury. i for one would be happy to see demerit back in the team when he comes back.

33. Walker (R) - 18/12/2008

Re. 27 Gerry G –

No relation to Whites (R). But I am trying to give it up up up
(sorry – it’s one of those nights!) 🙂

On other matters mentioned above, I’m amazed anyone has any patience left with Jobi Not Enuff. We paid similar sums for him and for Heidar Helguson – I rest my case.

34. Dave Hart - 18/12/2008


I think you misinterpreted what I wrote. It’s not a bad thing to not be as quick as Theo (let’s face it, he our fastest player since Wayne Andrews), and I did say he is one of the best finishers at the club. I think I am one of the few people in our section of the stadium NOT to get on his back.

I sit right on the halfway line in the Lower Rous, so I get to see what positional skills our players have. I think it is fair to say that his position skill is poor (as is Theo’s). However, it is something that can be worked on, again as I pointed out in my previous post.

I suspect Priskin fancies himself as a bit of a Ruud Van Nistleroy type player when it comes to the offside trap, but he never seems to quite get it right. It would explain why he seems to drift aimlessly offside during attacks. It’s something that Boothroyd should have noticed and worked on, but it never seemed to have been done. Let’s hope Rodgers works at it.

My problem was not particularly with Priskin himself, but the tactics that Boothroyd used when he played him. To play him as a target man was farcial.

35. Wat4Steve - 22/12/2008

Dave your reference to positional play is about his love with the offside trap! Rather than his natural instinct to roam across line and drop deep. Yes I did misunderstand. Totally agree he is not a target man but people still compare him to Hendo and Hieder and expect him to wear his heart on his sleeve in the same way, that frustrates me as it just shows a lack of understanding in how the game is played.

I have a mixed view on the offsides yes he does get caught but I believe a lot of the time (not all) the player could release him quicker and they don’t read the game the same way. But then he is used to playing with internationals who perhaps have better vision. I sit in the Upper Rous so also have a very good view.

Re Teo I am amazed how people can judge players after a handful of games. They guy behind me raves about Theo but I doubt he has seen him play a full match! Let wait and see shall we…. Remember Jason Norville. If you’re talking about pace, with the ball at feet, then Wooter wins hands down IMO). As Nordin proved you need a bit more than just pace to make it thou.

My mate is a Wealdstone fan and he doesn’t think Theo is as good as the guy they sold to Leeds so make of that what you will.

Same can be said of Jenkins. Whilst I have no reason to believe he will not be a good player (in time) I worry about building our midfield around a 17 year old Boy. For me he gives the ball away far too easily, simple 5 yard stuff. Again remember Fisken….. Similar type of player burst onto the scene in similar fashion now playing semi pro at Newport County!

Anyway window opens in a few days goodbye Tommy. If you really love Watford as much as you say then surely you will renegotiate your 8K a week contract in order to see out your career…………. No thought not!

36. DM - 22/12/2008

“Re. 27 Gerry G –

No relation to Whites (R). But I am trying to give it up up up
(sorry – it’s one of those nights!) ”

Best comment on here, ever.

37. NickB - 23/12/2008

Wat4 – Fisken was rubbish; couldn’t believe he ever got in the side. Jenkins is a different kettle of fish (or Fisk). Not the finished article by a long way, but I thought he was truly outstanding in the first half v Cov

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