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Watford 2 Bristol City 4 (26/12/2008) 27/12/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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1-  Mat Sadler.  Textbook 1 out of 5.  Sometimes he looks like a competent if unspectacular full back.  Sometimes he looks like he’s just got in from a night out on the beers and hasn’t had any sleep…

2- Jay Demerit.  Why is it that as our captain returns, any semblance of defensive robustness evaporates?  Perhaps unfair on City’s contribution;  they were a cleverer attacking side than those we’ve faced recently (if scarcely less wobbly than us at the back).  But the Mariappa/Bromby partnership looked pretty good. 

3- On the same subject… whilst any arrivals in January are likely to be kids with top flight pedigree, what we really need is a big ugly centre back capable of shouting at his teammates, and kicking opponents really hard.  And if that fails, trying it the other way around.

4- Ross Jenkins is still ace.  And the Williamson/Jenkins combo remains by far our most convincing.  One assumes that Bridcutt is now history.

5- I’m almost glad they scored their fourth.  Almost.  Would have been too cruel to see City protect a one goal lead by jockying around in the corner to the cheers of their fans for five minutes.  After all, it was ten years to the day since Gifton was doing precisely that to them, in the same corner of the pitch…

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1. RGW - 27/12/2008

1. If Sadler was ill for the Derby game, and what he had was the same bug that seems to have been doing the rounds (where even after you start to feel well, you suddenly go downhill fast if you have to do some exercise such as, for instance, running round a football pitch), then it’s odds on he wasn’t fit to play. Selection error.

2. “If it ain’t broke, or is at last functioning better than for some time, don’t fix it”. Selection error.

3. If we get these top flight kids, will they be again displacing those of our players who are currently performing best? Sounds like another selection error waiting to happen.

4. As so often when JJOT starts, our midfield was only notable by its absence. As soon as Jenkins came on we took a degree of control and the team got some shape. Selection error.

5. Their fourth was an object lesson in what is supposed to happen when you get the ball wide and near the by-line – a decent cross which provides a goal scoring opportunity. How many times did MacAnuff turn good position into anything other than a wasted opportunity? Hoskins did 10 times more with 1/10th the possession – what does he have to do to get a start? Selection error (with Smith moving out to the right).

The first rule of managing with limited resources is getting the best out of what you have available. Rogers is not impressing so far.

2. stephen hoffman - 27/12/2008

matt i feel you missed out one point – the great performance of raziak – remind me again why doesn’t brendan like him – he’s everything we need and more 3 goals in 6 games + he links up well with hoskins.

3. PDF - 28/12/2008

And we are still proclaiming – What the hell is going on?

Eustice has done what to deserve being sidelined and has lost his place why?

McAnuff – no goal in over a year! A YEAR! Show me another attacking midfielder who has played more than 30 games in the last year, in ANY division, who has not scored? Surely there cannot be any apologists left for this chap? Reasoned argument has long since become redundant. The fact is he is passionless, lightweight and fucking useless.

When Tommy and JJoT go, what next? Given that Rogers’ sole loanee at the club so far has been unceremoniously dropped from sight, what does that say about his capabilities come January? I hope he knows what he is doing, but form to date is questionable.

4. Matt Rowson - 28/12/2008

PDF – whilst sharing your overall concerns I don’t agree about Eustace. I think he could be accommodated, and we could certainly use his leadership, but we’d need to be playing three in the middle again for that to work. As stated above, Jenkins/Williamson looks pretty sound as a centre-mid pairing to me.

5. DL - 28/12/2008

1 is generous to Sadler, I think. JJ was so anonymous that I had forgotten he was playing until his name was read out as being subbed. Eustace is surely needed to provide protection for the back 4 and let Jenkins and Willo try to dictate play.
Hard to understand what Big Greg did to get dropped today?

6. PDF - 28/12/2008

Matt – there’s a difference between not being included in the first team and not being involved in the squad.

We don’t have a half decent experienced defensive midfielder. Much as I was in the “What’s the difference between Mahon and Eustice” camp last season, the fact that now we are conceeding goals at a silly rate and the most experienced defensive midfielder cannot even get his tracksuit on, on a matchday, asks a lot of questions.

7. NickB - 28/12/2008

PDF – Absolutely right, McAnuff is pathetic. Not sure he’s even got an assist in that period either; even the ball in for Rasiak’s goal went straight to a lone defender at first. He makes my blood boil, and God knows what TS makes of him, given the effort he expends every week.

8. DM - 28/12/2008

Peter, I think the smell of nappies is impairing your footballing sense when it comes to Eustace. In addition to what Matt says, he’s a yard too slow in all areas of his game, and that makes a crucial difference when comparing him with other options. Even taking JJ O’T’s eye for goal into account, Jenkins and Williamson are by far our best CM pairing and with O’Toole able to back them up from the bench, I think Eustace is in the right place at present.

Agree about McAnuff, mind.

9. Dave Hart - 28/12/2008

I think it is important not to make knee jerk reactions, albeit even after a very poor performance. Sadler’s performance was indeed awful, but I don’t think we can blame Rogers for picking him. He declared himself fit, and had taken part in training prior to the match.

I think it would be best if Sadler either stopped playing for the first team for a bit, or more likely, leave the club in the transfer window. Too many poor performances from him seem to have sealed his fate.

Rumour has it that McAnuff will be leaving next month – I don’t think there will too many Watford supporters who would be sorry to see him go. I would think that he would be one of the top earners too.

I thought that Rasiak played well, particularly in the second half. He really put himself about, and deserved his goal. However, I did think he played a little too deep in the first half.

O’Toole seems to play much better when part of a three man midfield, and also with Jenkins on the right. We can’t however, expect either player to play the whole season, we saw how knacker O’Toole was towards the end of last season through being overplayed.

Rogers has inherited a very unbalanced squad, a couple of days before the loan window closed. He wisely decided to judge his current players first, before making wholesale changes. Who could blame him for that? I think we will see a lot of changes in the transfer window, both in and out.

10. stephen hoffman - 28/12/2008

we have no big ugly midfielder – apart from eustace we need one – jenkins i like but he’s 17 we cant afford burnout at this young age for him – As today showed again from when raziak came on- he offers us so much more than priskin PLEASE Start him -and stop taking off harley at home for no reason and please please please dont play marriapa at right back – and play raziak with hoskins so tommy can play on the right or attacking midfielder his best positions .

11. Dave Jackson - 28/12/2008

Agree with Stephen about Raziak so was very surprised to get to QPR and see him on the bench. Priskin then did nothing to back up the manager’s decision. Strange.

12. markymark - 28/12/2008

I was surprised to see Bridcutt in midfield and to be fair he performed okay.Mariappa is better at CB but it then leaves our defence on the short side especially with Harley at LB which IMO is our only real option given Sadler’s woeful form.
If Smith if off I hope we keep Rasiak otherwise we’ll be short on quality/experience/numbers upfront.
My worry on the loan market is the fact that there are very few young reserves capable of making a difference in the “rough & tumble” of the championship in mid winter.Bridcutt has not really cut the mustard and it looks like Sinclair will be at Chelsea at least until the end of January and then if he does go out on loan surely he’ll choose someone like Wolves at the other end of the table?

13. SteveG - 28/12/2008

I was also amazed to turn on my radio this afternoon to hear the news that Raziak was on the bench. One of the few bright spots on Boxing Day, I thought. However, there’s no doubt that Priskin has started to deliver more and we do seem to be learning to play to his strengths. Is it totally fanciful to suggest that they could be tried together up front, with Tommy on the right?

I do think there’s a genuine selection conundrum at the moment, as it’s difficult to construct a balanced line up without both Sadler and McAnuff, neither of whom individually deserve a place on merit… but you then either fall back on playing a defender who’s already short of confidence at left back (Doyley? Demerit??), or you’ve got a hole in left midfield that I don’t think Young is yet ready to fill, or you bring in a third central midfield player and play without width on the left. If there was an easy solution to this we’d have found it already.

While TS and JJOT will be sadly missed, there are alternatives, whereas we don’t have a whole bunch of options at LB…I know it won’t happen, but imagine a swap of Smith for Paul Robinson, and I think we’d instantly look a better team.

And if McAnuff’s wages are as high as is being suggested, who is going to be daft enough to pay a transfer fee and his wage bill to take him off our hands?

14. DM - 28/12/2008

stephen hoffman –

A. Jenkins is 18, but is built, looks and plays like a player 4/5 years older than that. Yes, burnout could become a concern later in the season but at the present time, compare his fitness levels to what they were back in November. He’s getting stronger and better with every game.

B. We need a big, ugly centre half to get the rest of the back 4 organised. Central midfield is not a problem if Rodgers would only consistently pick the best pairing…

15. stephen hoffman - 29/12/2008

why not play hoskins and raziak together whenever they’ve played together they’ve looked dangerous and created and scored goals. also here’s a blast from the past for this season at least , bangura has been playing well in the reserves as defensive midfielder- as it is clear we need someone to protect our defence why not give bangura a try.

16. PDF - 29/12/2008

We need big ugly people throughout the spine of the team. A Colin Foster, an Andy Hessenthaler, a Tommy Mooney.

When it comes to surviving a relegation battle, it is not rocket science. When the chips have been down before, we’ve got in the ugly bastards, not relied on Youth (although Connolly gave it a good go in 1996). Culip / Heidar (2005), Mooney, Foster, Hessy, Millen (1994).

We have no one like these characters now.

DM – I was not suggesting Eustice is the answer. Just suggesting that his experience could lend something when we’re obviously so short of so much.

17. MartinG - 29/12/2008

Agree with the Bangura suggestion. He played well against West Ham and then disappeared. Just seen the news about Paul Jewell resigning – Ellington transfer money up in flames?

18. Esp - 29/12/2008

I concur with stephen about raziak and hoskins as an attacking option – but very much for the home games. can’t see what Rodgers blind spot is towards Raziak and Hoskins and he does OVER rate McAnuff and Priskin

I’m not sure if ig and mr were at the Bush so my match comments are:

There was no way Rodgers was going to play an offensive line up at Rangers, the line up was very much set up for the draw (QPR are dangerous on the counter attack so Buck did his homework; Helguson was well and truly stifled and Cook was marked out the game – as a result they had very few on target shots)

We defended better on Sunday but there were a few scares; is it just me or did Loach look very nervous? His distribution and command of his area were poor and he was lucky that Rangers were too ineffective to exploit it

I think a point a piece was fair; we had the better first half and they shaded it in the second – the referee was a joke though; he was very card happy and it was not a dirty game by any stretch

Mariappa is better at centre half and Doyley and Bridcutt both had a FAR better game than previous outings.

Disappointed in Priskin though and surely he needs a prolonged rest. Harley and Smith were (as usual) the best players closely followed by Lee Williamson playing his best game of December.

Happy New Year to all BHaPPY contributors..now let’s have a cup run!!


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