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Reading 4 Watford 0 (09/01/2009) 11/01/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Five thunks from watching it on the telly.

1- I’m glad I was only watching it on the telly.

2- To be fair to Brendan he didn’t duck the two painfully obvious problems post-match,  acknowledging the lack of penetration and the lack of defensive anything.

3- To be equally fair, this was shockingly easy for the home side, who allowed us possession when it didn’t hurt them and knew that we had enough rickets in us to rely on counterattack.  Brendan would do well to worry less about adhering to his principles (and in so doing blunt a hitherto potent attack) and worry more about earning some points.

4- No fight.  Again.  Have I mentioned this before?

5-  Aidy Boothroyd as Sky pundit.  Asked to compare and contrast the astonishing away record at this point last season with the less remarkable this time, he reeled  off a list of names of players that we’ve lost.  Including several who went before that point, but OK he was making a general point perhaps.  But he mentioned Gabby Agbonlahor too.  As a player we’ve had to cope without.  For pity’s sake… we had to cope without him when Boothroyd signed him and didn’t play him, but that was two years before the period being discussed.  Boothroyd’s REAL point was “look at all the players I’ve found and then had to sell”.  Funnily, Ellington, McAnuff, Kabba, Adam Griffiths etc weren’t mentioned.  Graceless, and not for the first time.


1. The Great Big O - 11/01/2009

I’m old. Friday night reminded me of 1974/5 under Mike Keen when we played lovely, skilful, powderpuff football – and got relegated.

I’m worried that the manager said the problem was in the final third of the pitch. It only looked like the problem was there because we lacked any kind of incision with our passing in the first two thirds. Reading, in contrast, made every pass hurt us – with their movement off the ball and their choice of pass. As a result, when they got to the final third, we were in rags. There’s a lesson there for Rodgers. Passing isn’t about transferring possession from one player to another. It’s about beating men.

2. NRC - 11/01/2009

My overwhelming feeling was one of being mugged – first at the car park (EIGHT QUID!) and then on the pitch. We wondered what the possession stats were and on getting home were told by someone watching on the box we had 64% of play, which amplifies your point 3. Hoyte says on the official website that their heads went down after the second goal and after the third there we had genuine fears that it may go to six or seven such was our lack of penetration and inability to convert possession. Where was Hoskins – not even on the bench?

3. JohnF - 11/01/2009

Also watched on tele. Reading is freezing at the best of times but with below zero temperatures and a 4-0 defeat? Agree Matt that we need to start concentrating on getting points, otherwise we will pass our way into the first division. No penetration was, I think, primarily to the snail-like build up play allowing the Reading defence to get back, organise, dig trenches and put in barbed wire. Passing sideways and backwards for the sake of it is not entertaining and professional football is supposed to be part of the entertainment industry.

One winge about the officials – how wasn’t the hand ball a penalty? Not that I think it would have made much difference other than giving Tommy a chance to beat his previous record.

4. Dan - 11/01/2009

It was the TV for me, too.

Surely the penny has to have finally dropped with Buck that Priskin is not the man to lead the line in our 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation.

The defence was horrible. It may just be shifting deckchairs on the Titanic, but Bromby is surely worth a shout ahead of Demerit. If there is anything left in the pot for a final loanee then centre-back has to be the priority, not entirely sure why we need both Bridcutt and Cork when we have so many midfielders on the books.

Too depressing to write any more, but I completely agree with the sentiment in point 3. And point 4. I retain a soft spot for Betty, though.

Big – and tough – game next Saturday.

5. meldrew - 11/01/2009

This is not a knee jerk reaction. I firmly believe that if we persist with Rodgers we are going nowhere but down. Under him, I will bet anyone here that Tommy Smith does not make it to 20 goals for the season – he has ruined our one major goal threat. The football is stupefyingly dull to watch – passing for the sake of passing tonight was simply embarrasing to watch. Reading were quite content for us to fanny about non stop then pick us off like flies. I actually find us utterly hateful to watch and action needs to be taken immediately.

After Aidy’s last game he said words to the effect that he couldn’t motivate them anymore. As much as he signed terrible players and Rodgers plays terrible football, I am of the mind that the vast majority of our squad are utterly repellent people who are so overpaid that they really don’t seem to care at all.

People wonder why I am miserable at football. Its because I remember what its like to love a Watford side and not actually despise the majority of the players. Where is the modern day Hessenthaler or Mooney? The likes of Jason Lee, Ronny Rosenthal, Richard Johnson, Steve Palmer had tons of character to them. I personally find it sickmaking watching Jobi McAnuff, Liam Bridcutt et al – spineless and overpaid.

The whole club needs a clearout from management to players and to start again. Get a manager in with Watford in his blood and get in kids who care from our OWN YOUTH SCHEME, some grizzled veteran loanees a la Malky Mackay and Colin Foster desperate to play first team football and some hungry non league players a la Peterborough.

6. Esp - 11/01/2009

John F the pundit on SkyTV definitely thought the Reading player had handled and at 1-0 at that point it could have changed the game – it would have been interesting to see what sticking to 4-5-1 would have achieved against Reading at 1-1 but maybe I’m clutching at straws

Interesting that on message boards even Brendan apologists are starting to turn, he’s running out of time and I can only think of Charlton who are worse than us; a worry

Loach- 5 A few good saves but mistakes a plenty to; at fault for third goal

Hoyte- 6 Quick, strong and good tackler but could have done a lot better overall

Mariappa- 4 Good passing but does not look good next to DeMerit No good in the air, not confident on the ball and central defence not his best position

DeMerit- 4 Distribution was poor, only good point was two or three crucial tackles, not in his best form

Harley- 5 Struggled with Kebe and seems to be one of 3 decent players in a very ordinary side

Jenkins- 6 Like most of the midfield he didn’t get forward much meaning no end product, good passing and some decent tackles. Had better games

Cork- 6 Had poor first half by his standards but is our best passer. One of only 2 midfielder to venture forward but was dispossessed too many times

Williamson- 7 Our most skillful midfielder, great distribution and our best attcking threat from midfield. Still lets us down on set pieces though

Smith- 5 Does he know he’s going or does he not shine in this formation? Caused a few problems but was not his usual self. His shot in 2nd half which went off for a throw in summed up his and our performance

McAnuff 6 – Had most of our off target shots and was a good passer but did drift out of the game atcrucial points

Priskin- 6 Still trying to get on Socccer AM’s Showboat with his flicks and touches but stylish play is not what we want at the moment; clearly hates the lone striker role although away from home (unllike the Scunny cup match) it makes more sense. No service and Duberry had the better of him all game. Only one offside all game meant he either worked the trap or that he didn’t get forward enough!


Rasiak- 5 Too little time to judge really and was put on far too late in the match. O’Toole and him should have been on after the break

7. Wat4Steve - 11/01/2009

1 – Brendan Rodgers football two thirds of the possession one shot on target. We pass the ball around nicely until it end up at the weakest players feet then we give it away.

2 – Jay DeMeritt any takers please? He returns to our team and we look fragile again. IMO we didn’t miss him when he was out in
fact Bromby and Marriapa were playing well together.

3 – Unless this new board and a significant cash injection is assembled before the end of Jan to allow us to bring in at least a centre back, a left back and a goal keeper then I fear the worst.

4 – What is the point in Bridcutt is he doesn’t play?

5 – Personally I thought Boofers had us playing some half decent footy at the start of the year. Had he been allow to sign a couple of defenders then who knows. But as has already been pointed out no guarantees come with an AB signing.

8. Matt Rowson - 11/01/2009

JohnF… the penalty could have been given, but a foul by Harley on Kebe was much more clear cut (albeit with the benefit of TV replay) so I don’t think we’ve any grounds to complain.

9. SteveG - 11/01/2009

Another view from in front of the TV…

1. Somehow the whole was a lot less than the sum of the parts. Very few individuals had a demonstrably poor game, but the whole system never looked like delivering a point. We always looked as though we were about to give a goal away, and rarely looked as though we were going to score.

2. I thought we worked hard, especially in midfield; Cork, Williamson and Jenkins all did their bit. ‘No fight’ seems a bit unfair.

3. If DeMerit is both captain and senior central defender, we have to expect more than we are getting at the moment. Even when his individual performance is OK, there is such a woeful lack or organisation at the back that he has to take repsonsibility for sorting some of this out.

4. If we are committed to 4-3-3/4-5-1 (and I would have to concede that central midfield has looked more lightweight when we’ve gone to 4-4-2) how about Priskin, Rasiak and Smith as a front three? Although Rasiak’s introduction this time didn’t have the same impact as in previous games, he must have been wondering after being relegated to the bench yet again just exactly what he does have to do to start a game.

5. Are Sky getting a bung from Jobi..? “And we all know what this player can do…”. Er, like, fail to score for over a year?

10. JohnM - 11/01/2009

The Great Big O:- Thanks for the reminder of Mike Keen: Watching most of the matches under that manager, and watching (admittedly) only several under this manager, does bring back many similarities. As mentioned, there was occasional decent, powderpuff, football, but it never felt as if we were going to win (like now). There were always comments about being ‘nearly there’ and we need just ‘a player or two’. As time went by, the team sank to the bottom of the old division 4, and all the players looked to be bottom of the league rubbish. Then Taylor came, and the same players looked like world beaters. I do not feel that Rodgers has the ‘Taylor’ managerial ability to make purses out of sows ears. Quite possibly, with time and finance, he could turn things around—but unless something happens very quickly, he has neither. He will scratch up a few wins here and there—but avoiding relegation will be touch and go. Although I fell ‘out of love’ with Boothroyd, I believe it was a mistake for him to go—I felt, while he was still here, he would have kept the team up—I lack that confidence with the current manager.

11. Mark - 11/01/2009

Wat4Steve…I also thought we were doing ok under Aidy attacking wiser as the record showed.

Its fact we’ve hardly made any improvements at all really and at this moment we cannot afford to take time and wait for this style to work (nor we have the players…not all Rodgers fault I know)

As stated points matter..not how many passes you make!

12. Sequel - 11/01/2009

In October, I was of the opinion that we were only a fit Rasiak away from being a decent team, albeit one that concedes almost as many as it scores. I looked forward to each game, knowing that we were virtually guaranteed entertaiment and goals aplenty. Now, I go to games knowing that if the opposition score first, we’re stuffed. And it will be dull. What a transformation!
Meldrew, I agree with your point about the players. I thought O’Toole was going to be “one of ours”, someone who stayed for years, giving his all, winding up team mates and opposition alike, but since being associated with various moves to bigger clubs, his game has deteriorated to the point where he can’t even get on in a losing performance.
That was, by some distance the most depressing friday night I’ve had in a long time

13. PDF - 11/01/2009

I agree with Meldrew.
I think there are some good intentions at management level. But I firmly believe that although Cork, Bridcutt & Hoyte may well turn out to be worldbeaters, we need something other than the prettiness of youth to pull us out of this mess.

McAnuff to me (although he had a good game by his standards) epitomises what is wrong with the squad (and football in general). There’s nothing in the spine of the side which convinces me we will not go down and unless we start scoring again when it matters (it doesn’t matter if you score 3 if you conceed 4) we are down.

Southampton have pulled out a win at Barnsley, Forest are starting to get their act together while Charlton will pull through and Doncaster probably won’t.

It matters not if we sell Smith if he is playing in the role that he has been. He’s not effective there (wherever it is he is supposed to be!).

I don’t dislike Rogers and I don’t necessarily blame him right now. He is learning his way. It was just a really stupid appointment.

14. Tops - 11/01/2009

Only three thunks:

1. I’m actually glad I was there. For the first time for a couple of years, black humour crept back into the away end, and what a welcome return that was. Watching it on the box would have been even more miserable (I’d have probably been able to feel my feet during the second half)

2. Boothroyd. Graceless since leaving? Yes. Would I rather he was still in charge? Oh yes.

3. I remain glad I’m not a Reading fan. Soulless doesn’t come close.

15. markymark - 11/01/2009

In a strange,perverse way I am hoping we are defeated heavily in our next 2 matches playing the same pathetic way with barely one decent effort on goal simply so Rodgers will be hounded out!
Perhaps his mate Mourinho will then give him a job training his youth team in Milan.
That was embarassing to watch and what annoyed me was listening to Rodgers post match crowing on about the possession / display in the first half and how good Reading were.In fact,Reading were quite poor especially 1st half.

16. Matt Rowson - 11/01/2009

I disagree about Reading markymark, I thought that they got it about right. They let us have possession which made us look as if we were on top until they scored, but they were always going to make chances given our defending and they took them very well.

SteveG – I agree about the midfield three, certainly no lack of application there. “Fight” was perhaps the wrong word. Aggression? Welly? Leadership?

17. stephen hoffman - 12/01/2009

Matt your the one who’s being graceless , get off boothroyd’s back.

18. Sirhornet - 12/01/2009

1) Agree with many of the points, as a team we lack drive and ambition.
2) Is the PA system at the Madstad the loudest noise on earth?
3) I am very worried about Loach, great shot stopper but has to take a large share of the blame for the first three goals.
4)We really do need to sign a big, ugly centre half-do you think Cardiff will let us have Darren Purse?
5) as if it wasn’t bad enough, Doris seems to have recovered his scoring touch for the Blunts. A torrid afternoon awaits for JD and AM next week!

19. Winslow 'Orn - 12/01/2009

Meldrew – spot on.

20. Kris - 12/01/2009

I was lucky enough NOT to find a channel in Denmark that showed the match so it was bbc live text for me thankfully.

Grasping at straws maybe but this was a matchup between the best side in the division at the moment and a team very much under construction with a club in turmoil. Not really a surprise we’d lose and lose big if I’m honest.

I still think Bucky is trying to eradicate the personal errors that cost us so badly during the first half of the season. I thought he’d sorted out the defensive issues more or less but apparently not.

To me, his biggest mistake is persisting with Smith in the central role in the hole. Put smith out right, Harley left, Hoskins in the hole and drop MactheDuff. Or play Priskin with Rasiak but take a little focus off Smudger because it just isn’t working at the moment.

I still believe we’ll survive but my belief that we could challenge for the playoffs is gone. We’re in the scrap for the rest of the season.

21. DM - 12/01/2009

Thunk 3 – Nail, Head.

Anyone that wants a nasty feeling of dread on this Monday morning should take a look at the next 4 fixtures, then shudder….

22. Gerry G - 12/01/2009

Pete the Finch wrote: “I don’t dislike Rogers and I don’t necessarily blame him right now. He is learning his way. It was just a really stupid appointment.”

Spot on, our Pete. It was stupid to push Betty out, and even more stupid to appoint yet another trainee who would be bringing the ‘Chelsea way’, minus Abramovich’s millions, with him. Is it too early to start a Clodagh Out campaign, do you think? It would be for his own good as well as ours, going by his expression post-match on the box – he looked like a guy whose just run over his own pet dog. I had to laugh when he said that it “wasn’t a 4-nil match” – give us a break, Clodagh! It’s like that old Colemanball from a manager whose name I can’t remember, saying “apart from the 4 goals there was nothing between the teams”. What’s the situation with Clodagh’s contract anyhow?

Still, maybe relegation wouldn’t be so bad. On the plus side, we’d get rid of all those ‘fans’ who think that we’re a ‘big club’, get change out of twenty quid on the gate, and be able to offload expensive jobsworths like Notgoodenuff.

23. meldrew - 12/01/2009


Even if we get relegated, Notgoodenuff is contracted until June 2010. Do you think any club a) Would be stupid enough to pay any money for him and b) Pay him anything near the wages he is getting at WFC? He will go down as the worst signing this club has ever made after Ellington and he makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.

24. DM - 12/01/2009

I don’t think the sack is the answer, but Rodgers has certainly created more questions than he has answered so far.

To me there are two major problems right now –

1. All season long our problems have been at centre half. Yes, Hoyte and Cork look good signings, but neither fills the glaring gap at the heart of our back four. For the love of God Rodgers, get out there and find an experienced centre half to organise the back four.

2. We have looked good going forward for much of the season, but we are going backwards fast in that regard. Smith is wasted in a 4-3-3 formation and the midfield lacks balance without Harley’s left foot. Stop fannying about Rodgers, get round pegs in round holes and play 4-4-2.

I said it when we appointed Brendan Rodgers and I’ll say it again – we do not have time to implement a style of play that we cannot perfect with the players we have. We are not in a position to sign the players we need to make it work, so we must default to a style of play that works and gets results. We certainly don’t have time for the sort of capitualtion we saw at Reading.

Get some results Rodgers, and get them fast.

25. markymark - 12/01/2009

PDF : You think Charlton will pull through !? Who do you think will go down then ?

26. markymark - 12/01/2009

Rodgers is on a one year “rolling ” contract whatever that means.

If we were to lose the next 3/4 matches playing the same useless way barely creating half a chance then surely Rodgers will be walking a tightrope.After all,we wouldnot be the first team to offload more than one manager during the course of one season -what about Leicester City!?

27. Old Git - 12/01/2009

McAnuff the worst after Ellington? Come on Meldrew! even my fading memory recalls Pierre Issa, Ramon Vega and Trevor Senior.
All of whom are put well and truly in the shade by Jamie…er, Jamie…now what was that name?…er…er… Jamie…..
No, it’s gone. Sorry. But I promise you Meldrew, he was a lot worse than McAnuff!

28. Gerry G - 12/01/2009

markymark, a “rolling contract” for a year means Clodagh’s guaranteed employment for just that year, renewing towards the end of the period for another year if he’s cut the mustard. It’s a common way of employers keeping someone on for the long-term without risking a fixed-term contract of so many years, so Clodagh would be cheap-ish to offload compared with someone on a 2- or 3-year fixed contract. After the league highlights on Sunday morning was the first time I’ve heard him post-match, and he really does look out of his depth. There was a ‘wtf have I let myself in for’ look on him on Friday night, though maybe he was just having an off night or the cold had got to him. I’m sure he wishes he’d hung on until the Leeds job became vacant.

Old Git, you’re right to mention Issa, Vega and Senior, all of whom would be up there in the top 10 worst ever WFC players. To which I would add the execrable Kerry Dixon, the memory of whom in a Watford shirt still sends shivers down my spine.

29. PDF - 12/01/2009


I think Doncaster, us and one from Southampton, Blackpool and Barnsley will go down.

Norwich will sack Roeder, get someone in who can manage and get out of it. Forest and Derby have already done that and I still think Charlton will do something remarkable (god knows why)!

30. Matt - 12/01/2009

Old Git, you may want to re-think that, a quick search on soccerbase and a few quick sums in my head and I reckon it’s:

Jamie Moralee – £450,000 – 64 appearances in all competitions (inc sub) – 7 goals.

Jobi McAnuff – £1,750,000 – 68 appearances in all competitions (inc sub) – 2 goals and to be fair to him I remember at least 1 assist in his time to date.

31. Matt - 12/01/2009

Or were you on about Jamie Hand? :o)

32. stephen hoffman - 12/01/2009

i think adrian bakalli , patrick blondeau , jermaine darlington and jamie moralee deserve a shout for worst player as well.

33. Dan - 12/01/2009

Mick Quinn.

Alright he was only a loanee, but by God the fat bastard was bad. And had the cheek to whinge about his ‘Hall of Arse’ entry in his autobiography.

I see we have just shipped Bromby back to the Blades, and not even bothered to ensure he can’t play against us on Saturday. Well, that makes a lot of sense.

34. markymark - 12/01/2009

Perry Digweed,Blondeau ( given the wage he wason under Vialli ),
Mayo ( from Lincoln ) and of course Devon White were pretty dire too weren’t they ?
Boy have we had some pisspoor left backs – apart from Robbo and Rostron I can’t thin kof any other good ones.Kennedy was more of a wing back and did score loads of goals but was crap in the end?

35. meldrew - 12/01/2009

Old Git – mea culpa, I should have added the prefix ‘pound for pound’ before the words ‘worst ever signing’.

36. Sequel - 13/01/2009

How about Ron Wigg, circa 1970, whose timing of a header was so poor, you almost thought it was deliberate.

37. Matt Rowson - 13/01/2009

“worst ever” needs a lot of context. Moralee cost less and scored more than McAnuff, but was a different sort of player and at a time when we had a lot less money spare (albeit we spent even more than we had available this time around). What I mean is, in isolation the £450k spent on Moralee was at least as big a part of our budget as the £1.75m on McAnuff.

That said, Moralee was flimsy but he wasn’t THAT bad. Nor was Jermaine Darlington – a very harsh call from stephen. Far from our best player, but far from our worst.

Mick Quinn was shocking, but in fairness he asked us for permission to reproduce his Hall of Arse entry, and did so verbatim. Fair play really.

Less fair play to Jason Drysdale, who responded to his Hall of Arse article with an astonishing rant over email which included the timeless line “I’ll be thinking of you when I drive my Porsche whilst you drive your Ford Escort to the fish factory where you probably work”. Fish factory? In Watford?

38. Somerset 'orn - 13/01/2009

So Bromby’s gone back to the Blades. Just five days before we play them. Surely then, even as I write, Rodgers is using the freed-up wages to sign the seasoned old warrior of a centre half that he already has lined up to hold Demerit/Mariappa’s hand (it doesn’t matter which, and what does that say about Demerit since he is 29?). I really hope so, but I’m afraid I don’t have that much confidence.

Probably Simpson did make a Really Stupid Appointment, but Brendan is doing his bit to exacerbate the problem. The way that he has taken a hitherto free-scoring but defensively frail squad half way through a relegation scrap and tried to mould them to adopt footballing principles for which they weren’t assembled is equally stupid, and arrogant to boot. The time for that is pre-season. Bolting on a few classy big-4 youngsters to practice his principles is naive as well, although I appreciate he may not have other options for re-building the squad. We need warriors, not kids right now. And as DM says, we need round pegs in round holes – spot on. It all highlights Brendan’s inexperience and his refusal to acknowledge the principles of Championship Football in deference to his own. I’m finding it very difficult to warm to Rodgers, and I for one won’t be holding him blameless if we find ourselves playing Carlisle on a Tuesday night nest season. There could hardly be a worse time for this club to take the drop into League 1.

The rest of January is going to be pivotal – a quick glance at the fixture list indicates that we’ll be starting February in the bottom three, and from there on, with confidence shot and a team half full of kids the threat of relegation is very real indeed. We have entrusted our Championship survival to this man, but who is he answerable to? I don’t know much about Andrew Wilson – is he a football man? Whilst he builds a new board and the happy clappers are distracted by the return of Elton and Taylor, a entirely avoidable disaster is unfolding before our eyes and I’m not sure anyone is doing anything about it.

39. Royston RoF - 13/01/2009

Worst ever…now dont get me going…it needs no context nor any contest…the one and only Jim Lawton.

Im sure some of the old gits and really old farts will back me up…

…and as for letting Bromby go……who will replace him….another loanee (I hope not) or Avinel or even Malcky 🙂

Clodagh needs to realise the best teams get the ball forward fast not fart as*rsing passing and going no where..has he read the Wilkins coaching manual (ala Chelski’s problem at the moment!). i give him 2 more woeful displays before he is turned on by those who remember Vialli

40. Old Git - 13/01/2009

I certainly did NOT mean Jamie Hand! I fondly recall him as being the ugliest player ever to have worn the yellow shirt, by a comfortable margin. And his astonishing assault on Frank Lampard in the Chelsea replay of 2004 remains my Favourite Foul.

41. duds - 13/01/2009

i think there was a massive difference between peter kennedy pre and post injury problems and so he shouldn’t be remembered as being crap – he scored twice in the 4-0 against luton ffs that should say it all

as for other left backs – keith pritchett was pretty good

42. DM - 13/01/2009

The fish factory line really doesn’t get the airtime it richly deserves…

Of all the players mentioned as worst ever signing, the name of Joe McLaughlin is a glaring omission. Until now.

PDF – The only remarkable thing Charlton will do this season is to continue making our fall from grace look a little less spectacular. I mean, how on earth do you ponce away 5-6 years worth of Prmiership money ?!

Charlton, Donny plus one from us, Norwich, Blackpool and Southampton, for my money.

43. Matt Rowson - 13/01/2009

As was the case a few years ago, our best hope of salvation comes from being less shit than three other teams. I find it difficult to conceive that Southampton won’t go down for one thing. Signs of life at Donny, they’re certainly candidates though. Charlton… Parkinson doesn’t strike me as a man for a crisis.

Saints, Charlton and one of us, Donny, Norwich, Blackpool. And I’d put Norwich and Blackpool as real candidates, Donny have enough to get out of it.

44. Wat4Steve - 13/01/2009

Pete the Finch wrote: “I don’t dislike Rogers and I don’t necessarily blame him right now. He is learning his way. It was just a really stupid appointment.” – One last legacy from the previous board of directors!

433 / 442 / 451 / 4141 – None of that matters formations and styles do not win matches players do and simply are not good enough as a squad

DeMerrit whilst I agree he has been awful now for about the last 12 months we must remember he is still naive in terms of experience coming into the game late and not being brought up on it. I follow the NFL and was watching an interview with a British player, the guys in the studio summed it up. Got the ability but said the thought he lacked the awareness to play the game as it wasn’t natural to him and he lacked the instinct to progress. I had a little smile to myself those exact words could be used to sum up Jay!

Matt did you go to Southampton this season? – Can’t agree Southampton are worse than us. The difference has been we were scoring goals and that always helps. Norwich would also argue that they were unlucky at the Vic

45. markymark - 13/01/2009

Surely we now have the worst bunch of centre backs ever seen at the club!

Demerit – Playing the worst football of his career
Mariappa – Too short & basically awful in any position
Avinel -Been at the club for years yet only played once when he was given the run around by Lita.Never seen since.Beggars belief why he’s still at the club
Doyley – Passable as aright back on occasions but not CB
Bennet – on loan at Kettering

If you add a manager who knows as much about the championship as I know about piston engines Is there any wonder why we’re pretty certain to get relegated IMO!

46. JohnF - 13/01/2009

Somerset ‘orn, you are getting as depressed as me. I feel exactly as you do and I don’t want my club sacrificed on the alter of purism. Most of the proponents don’t actually pay to watch and certainly don’t care about results. I hope we are both wrong but…..

In terms of worst, was Jackson so bad that he has been obliterated from collective memory.

47. Matt Rowson - 13/01/2009

Jackson’s actually a pretty good shout as the worst ever signing. Not because he was the worst player, but just for the contract we gave to a player who was not so much shot as shot and shot again.

Wat4Steve – yes, I was at Southampton, and agree with your take. But Saints haven’t played well all season, at least we’ve looked good in fits and bursts going forward. And yes, I know what the table looks like… 🙂

48. NickB - 13/01/2009

Royston – Jim Lawton – what a shout

y first ever game – FAC Rd 3 vs Sheff U, then of Div 1 (in old money)

He missed sitter after sitter.

Got told off by several regulars in the Vicarage Rd end for overuse of the F word, almost all directed at him. I was 10. I don’t think I’d ever used it before.

49. DW - 13/01/2009

According to the recent Oli Philips recent Q&A, Sietes (spelling?) bough by Betty cost us £1M and never played.

50. JohnM - 13/01/2009

Jim Lawton-yes remember him. Came to watford with rock bottom confidence and stayed there. However, I wouldn’t put him as worst ever candidate–at least he frankly admitted he was crap, and when he played, he tried and worked hard. Will always have time for players who try their best—unlike some now.
Ron Wigg? Compared to some of the players at the time, he was Pele—and he scored goals as a lone striker in a badly struggling side. I remember, after one game, the team being boo’d off the pitch, but shouts of ‘We’re not booing you, Ronnie” from the crowd.

When Rodgers was appointed, I said on this site that my first reaction was exactly the same as when Vialli was appointed “What does he know about championship[ football?”
I understand he was Reading coach for a while, so maybe he does know something—but I can’t really believe it.

51. Wat4Steve - 13/01/2009

Sietes was a free transfer but never did play nor did Adam Griffiths or Mark Devaney

52. Wat4Steve - 13/01/2009

Gerry G / Marky Mark 12 month rolling contract means he always has 12 month remaining. Every time we wakes up it is the start of a new 12 month contract.

Whilst it seems like a job for life in reality it means both side are entitled to a years compensation if it doesn’t work out. It saves giving a manager a four year deal and having to pay 2 or even three years compensation.

It is quite common when the future of the club or the appointment of the manager / coach is uncertain

53. simmo - 13/01/2009

I would suggest Paul Atkinson as worst ever player.

I seem to recall that a Tribunal set his transfer fee at an amount in excess of the fee that Oldham wanted for him. On the few occassions he played for us during the 1983/84 season his lack of talent shone through. My favourite memory of him was the game before the cup final against Nottingham Forest. He put in a wonderful headed goal from the edge of the box. Unfortunately for him it was over Steve Sherwood as opposed to the other end.

I think I am correct in saying that in fact his last game for the club was the Cup Final when he came on as a sub for Neil Price.

54. Mark - 13/01/2009

“I’ll be thinking of you when I drive my Porsche whilst you drive your Ford Escort to the fish factory where you probably work”.

Doesn’t that just sum up (some) modern day footballers for you?

No wonder the fans don’t warm to them!

BTW Avinel has gone to some French 3rd Div club…only on trial if anyone cares.

55. Simon - 13/01/2009

If you’re talking about worst ever players to pull on a Watford shirt (and there have been a reasonable number to choose from over the years) I think you’ve got to look not only at cost and performance level but also at general attitude.

Granted, this probably doesn’t serve McAnuff particularly well at the present time but, for me, the man head and shoulders above everyone else is Andy Kennedy.

From my memory of him he was relatively expensive for the time (a deal worth about £325,000 which included Lee Richardson??), offered pretty much nothing, including effort, on the field and was pretty odious off it. Aside from his high profile invlovement with a page three stunna which he seems to have pursued with some vigour, he always came across as sullen and thinking himself worth more than any of his surroundings were offering him (sulking though a junior hornets Christmas party of all things springs particularly to mind).

The moral of the story is don’t sign players on the basis that they’ve played well against you/scored an important goal against you in the past – they’ve shot you down before and there’s no reason to suspect that’ll necessarily change when they pull on your shirt (sigh)

56. markymark - 13/01/2009

OMG ANOTHER shite left back SIETES!

Mariappa ( shite when played there )
Doyley ( quite shite when played there!)

Any more shite left backs!?
IMO Parkes has all the possibilties of being another one.Subbed at half time on league debut.Unable to shine even at Brentford on loan!

57. Ian Wishart - 13/01/2009

I think Mark Gavin probably needs a mention too.

I’m a little worried about some Watford fans these days. I’m sure it never used to be like this. Hoping we lose our next couple of games so we can hound out our manager after two months? Come off it. While I’m the first to regret the sour end to Boothroyd’s reign and to have some concerns about Rogers’ lack of Championship know-how and reliance on tactics over motivation, let’s give him a chance. Otherwise we’ve got no hope. He clearly is well-thought of within the game – he’s not just another journeyman manager on the conveyor belt, he’s someone who is prepared to learn and make mistakes. And yes, he will make mistakes and take risks as he learns. But I’m happy that he does that, Boothroyd did and it got us promoted. I wish we weren’t turning into just another club which demanded instant success.

58. meldrew - 14/01/2009

Ian Wishart – When a manager comes in and after two months single-handedly removes any goalscoring threat we previously had in the shape of O’Toole being persona non grata and Smith put into a position where he has no idea what he is supposed to be doing, then supporters have a right to be highly critical.

When these actions are coupled with the introduction of the most painfully boring style of football I have EVER seen in twenty-five years at Vicarage Road then I and whoever else thinks so have every right to demand the instant removal of Brendan Rodgers if he persists with this.

Instant success – no. Some semblance of entertainment and progression – yes.

59. Winslow 'Orn - 14/01/2009

Simon – thanks – the one, the only, Andy Kennedy – the top trump of all shite WFC signings.
Colin Lee had a pretty shocking record – Joe M, Mark Gavin, Kennedy and a pensionable Alan Devonshire.

60. DM - 14/01/2009

markymark – there is no way on earth Jordan Stewart belongs in that company. Sure, he wasn’t the best left back we’ve ever had but to bracket him with Drysdale and Mayo is laughable. And Doyley/Mariappa aren’t even left backs !

Ian Wishart – I see where you’re coming from, and were we safely entrenched in mid-table I would agree. We are, however, some considerable distance from that, making instant success pretty much essential… have a look at the next four fixtures – by the time we’ve cleared that little lot we could be keeping Charlton company…

61. JohnF - 14/01/2009


I think it is fear of relegation and the probable consequences of relegation that is prompting the concern about Rogers. If we were starting the season I think fans would be prepared to be more patient with experimentation but he has come in half-way through with us in an uncomfortably perilous position. From bitter experience relegation would mean a catastrophic drop in attendance and income, even if they dropped prices. In addition I am not sure what the position is over player contracts, already a major concern. If he could get some more points on the board then I think patience would return.

62. markymark - 14/01/2009

DM : If you read my message again you will see next to Mariappa and Doyley’s names some brackets with the following text:
“shite when played there”.I know they are not left backs you fool!

If you ask any Leicester,most ( not including you obviously ) Watford fans & possibly Derby fans ( given the fact he can’t get into their very average team)then Stewart would be well up there in bad buys.

63. Matt Rowson - 14/01/2009


where your argument falls down is that most Leicester and almost all Derby fans are idiots.

Claiming to speak for the majority is a rock solid sign of a flaky argument. I’m with Dave… Stewart had his flaws, but doesn’t merit comparison with Drysdale, or Mayo in particular.

Now Dom Ludden…

64. Matt - 14/01/2009

You’re not allowed to comment on Ludden Mr. Rowson, we all know that one’s personal !!

Do you reckon Jason Drysdale still has his Porsche? If he does I reckon he lives in it.

65. the real DL - 14/01/2009

markymark – you are factually incorrect.
Jordan Stewart has started more Derby league games (together with Miles Addison) than any other player this season: http://www.soccerbase.com/squad_season.sd?teamid=747
So pipe down.
Stewart was not a great left back, but was perfectly decent in my opinion. If he was at the club he’d walk back into our team now.

66. NickB - 14/01/2009

Driving past newsagent in Rochdale last night (my life is a rich tapestry of glamorous variety), spotted the local rag headline on sandwich board outside:


Is there no escape?

67. DM - 14/01/2009

mark – why include them in a list of left backs then ! Hardly fair when each played, at most, two games there…

68. Old Git - 14/01/2009

Jason Drysdale wasn’t THAT bad and I’m with Matt on the Jordan Stewart issue. We’ve got to remember the level he was performing at…he actually had a fair season in the Prem.
Jim Lawton played in Division 3 where you have to be a bit special to shine out as truly bad and he surely was. Lawton was so bad he was funny and that is what makes him linger in our memories. The late Ron Wigg played in very hard times but he had a proper footballer’s name. None of this Ashley-Cristiano-Cisse sort of nonsense. In that respect, cheers to Ray Lugg.
And does anyone else remember Ted Legge?

69. JohnM - 14/01/2009

Winslow ‘orn! Yes, without doubt Colin Lee managed to sign at least three candidates for worst ever—I was going to mention Kennedy, but you beat me to it!
Poor Jim Lawton—He was bad, but I think he was a free transfer (?), so at least that mitigated things a little. I seem to remember he scored a ridiculous number of goals in a reserve match (was it 5 or 6?). I also remember him hitting both goal posts with a single shot in one match. He made some newspaper headlines as a ‘brainy footballer’ by his habit of completing the Times crossword in the dressing room before each match.
Ron Wigg scored 17 goals in his first season at Watford in the old second division — I think we would be happy to have a forward with that record this season!

70. Wat4Steve - 14/01/2009

I thought Stewart was our most improved player in the premiership campaign but was shocking last year. I am however starting to wonder how much of that was an instruction from hoofers?……….. “don’t worry about playing football Jordan, just kick it into the corner and let the forwards chase it”

Drysdale, whilst an utter twat was not a bad left back and if you’re going to have a list of any left back then why not include H and Demerit? How anybody can criticise a player for doing a job for the team is beyond me. Keep it real!

What about Clint Easton? Did he play there in his last year?

71. Sequel - 15/01/2009

Oh dear. I feel bad about mentioning Ron Wigg now. 17 goals? I thought we only scored 3 all season.
I played left back for Watford Nalgo in the ‘Seventies, and at that club you got put at left back if they weren’t sure about you, but wanted to see if you could play. I suppose the thinking was that you couldn’t do as much damage there.
I was left back for 3 seasons……..
PS: Paul Atkinson’s moustachioed face can be seen on the front of the Scunny programme, peering out from behind the main bunch like a portent of the forthcoming Barnes-less gloom.

72. Ian Lay - 15/01/2009

I don’t think that anyone has menetioned Steve Talboys. IIRC I wrote a rather dodgy “Hall of Arse” entry for him… something about model, pretty boy and something else…. 🙂

Why don’t we turn this around and cheer ourselves up. What about our best bargain we’ve bought. The man that cost nothing, or very little, but gave us lots of pleasure? Tommy Mooney or Smoker?

As for Mr. Drysdale and his Porchse….I reckon my boat’s worth more than his car. And it’s bigger and *I* can live in it. 😉

Great to hear Mick Quinn’s got a sense of humour. But he seems that sort of chap.

73. NRC - 15/01/2009

Umm, what does all this focus on ‘worst ever’ say about the prevailing mood? Fun though …

74. markymark - 15/01/2009

Real Deal : Okay you win, 0-1 to you.Jordan Stewart is a great left back lol.
Why didn’t Stewart play v Man United then ? Was he injured ? No I can’t be bothered to find out on the internet,I’ll let you do that as you’re so good at it!
Are you sure he’d “walk” back into our team ahead of Harley who Rodgers seems to like at left back?

75. Esp - 15/01/2009

Ian the mention of Mooney is worth a BHaPPY thread of it’s own of course and Matt’s servers would crash such would be the traffic of fond posts but let’s have lot’s of “best ever” posts TOMORROW on the editor’s birthday to make him feel better for being OLD!

So I have a few hours to get in my comment about Kerry Dixon (born one month after me in 1961) – I never saw him play but of course we were buying the legend not the player who had burned out at Millwall and Luton by the time we got him

When Vialli brought in a clapped out Vega (who once cut me up in a Swiss plated Porsche on the Watford ring road) we also witnessed some comical football (even Spurs according to Wikipedia named him their worst ever footballer, as we did in one poll)

Back to Dixon though – he is STILL Chelski’s 2nd leading goalscorer and once over 2 consecutive seasons scored 70 goals!! Oh how we need that sort of strikepower now (a half interested defence would do for now of course)

Finally what is it with us and Chelsea “signings” – come to us and Dixon becomes rubbish, Vialli and Wilkins ALMOST make themselves unemployable and Rodgers fails to make his mark quickly after a ringing endorsement from The Special One.

I still don’t want us to sack the guy but the sooner he gets an old head such as Taylor next to him the better; we may even stay up!

76. simmo - 15/01/2009

Sequel – Thanks for that. I hadn’t noticed Atkinson.

Ian L – In a strange way, talking about the worst players for the club actually makes me smile and surely says that our past wasn’t always so glorious and the present might not be that bad (okay, I probably am deluding myself).

I chose Atkinson as my entry for worst player to show that even our greatest leaders, Graham Taylor and Elton John (please notice no abbreviations for their names) occasionally got it badly wrong.

77. Joe Bannister - 15/01/2009

Why no mention of Roger ‘Harry’ Willis?

The third and final prong of the amazing attack alongside the infinitely better Furlong and marginally better Charlery.

78. Walks - 15/01/2009

Personally I’m not too worried by the performance against Reading. If Rodgers can turn us into a passing side that beats Reading at the possession game in just a few months, then I’m sure that given another few months, he’ll turn us into a side that keeps possessions well and actually does something. It’s a great first step and I’m surprised we’ve adapted that quickly, even though the defence does look shocking still… I love Jay DeMerit but it seems his quick rise from non-league has caught up with him and his heart might not be enough.

79. Royston RoF - 15/01/2009

Well if we are looking for a positive trail..and still keep it about left backs..then my intro is the best game played by a left back game AND it was his only game in that position.

Sir NG verses Birmingham away in the play offs after Robbo had been sent of in the 1st game at home…now that was just not a blinder but the performance of the decade

any takers to beat that on pperformances out of position ? and no Smoker in goal does not count!

80. JohnM - 16/01/2009

Sequel:- To be fair, Ron Wigg was absolutly terrible in his last season at Watford—but so was everyone else. I think he felt that playing for Watford in that last season was only just preferable to death. Has no-one mentioned Dougie Woodfield? record transfer fee, 40 minutes, injured, then about 13 more games on one leg.
Yes, all this focus on ‘bad’ is a bad sign:- Perhaps a little focus on bargains might be better: Mooney: Welbourne, Scullion: Eddy: Ian Bolton: Ross Jenkins: McClelland: Coton: Steve Sherwood: Unfortunatly, I find it difficult to add names from recent times

81. toffees11 - 16/01/2009

Old Git…My God.. Ted Legge.. there is a blast from the past.. Rockley Rovers finest player manager curtesy of the Valiant… shock cup winners 66 ish… we could do with a Chubby Mann, Nippy Norton or Badger Smith to improve a sadly lacking squad not to mention Pierre Gaspard, the french acrobat centre forward who would walk down the pitch on his hands with the ball on his feet .. thats what you call entertainment.. oh for a bit of that at the Vic …
Nicknames were a lot better in those days too!!!

82. Old Git - 16/01/2009

And there was Pud Perry, the barrel of a centre half whose sole diet was donuts and cream cakes, and the two full backs whose names I have forgotten, I think they were brothers who were discovered on a farm in the south-west, who would come up with exclamations such as ‘dang moi pitchfark’ and such.

As for Harry Willis! seeing his name in Jo’s posting actually made me laugh out loud. He was so totally and joyously incompetent! Of course, we can look back with affection now, but at the time, trudging down Occupation Road with your feet frozen off following another appalling performance is never fun. I hope it’s a bit warmer tomorrow.

Finally, a word (but only one) in Paul Atkinson’s favour. The farce of the tribunal ordering Watford to pay far in excess of the fee wanted for him was not his fault, nor GT’s. And he did play in one memorable match, a display as near as you will get from any Watford side, of total football, away to West Ham, a 4-2 victory. It was a rearranged fixture, under lights, because its original date clashed with our Cup quarter-final victory at Birmingham in 1984.
So it was almost the Cup Final team, although Wilf, of course, played. That was a real powerhouse display, capped by a screamer from Cally that I can still see flying in.

It’s not just the rubbish players I can remember….

83. Luke Fairweather - 16/01/2009

JohnM – I agree that we desperately need to refocus on the postive (no, I am not an american motivational speaker). Cost chuff all and did well list, please add…John Barnes, Ashley Young and perhaps even JJ O’Toole? And then there was some bloke called Luther, Yes, I know he cost £500,000 to get him back but was he not worth every penny?

Ian Wish – We do not demand instant success just signs of imminent survival.

84. the real DL - 16/01/2009

markymark: It was pretty difficult to find. If you want internet lessons, get down the job centre.
It was right to stop your lies being accepted as the truth.

Stewart was suspended against Man United – that’s why he didn’t play.

Did I say he was great? I wrote “Stewart was not a great left-back.” Good point, you made there.
I think (opinion, not fact – if you know the difference) Harley is at left back because Sadler is out of sorts, Parkes doesn’t have enough experience and JH can do a job there.

85. Matt Rowson - 16/01/2009

Old Git – three more Watford goals disallowed that day I believe. Including one from Mr.Atkinson…

86. Old Git - 16/01/2009

Yes, it was joy to watch. If Wilf hadn’t been the victim of that berk Mr. Arseface Cretinhead’s absurd refereeing later that season, our Date with Destiny in May 1984 might have been very different.

And are the real DL and markymark an old married couple?

OK, time to knock off from today’s stint at the fish factory and mentally prepare for Big Doris’s return. He will probably score from a Bromby long throw that takes us by surprise.

87. James - 16/01/2009

Thinking back through my time watching Watford (since about 93/94), we’ve had a pretty shoddy selection of left-backs all the way through, with the obvious exception of Robbo.


I’ve probably missed a few, but out of that bunch, Stewart would be my second choice. David Barns was probably a better player but almost permanently injured. The rest were rubbish.

88. Ian Lay - 16/01/2009

ESP – What was Vega on when he was with us? Something like £18,000 a week? I remember thinking at the time how could a player that crap be paid that kind of money.

Simmo – I don’t think you are deluding yourself. I understand where you’re coming from.

As for Roger Willis…. wasn’t there a clause in the transfer contract that meant we paid, was it Barnet or Peterborough, extra money if he made an International appearance? You gotta laugh.

I better stop before we go through every player that’s played for Watford.

89. markymark - 17/01/2009

James: Barnes not Barns just like John Barnes!

Darlington was an odd player in that he was predominantly right footed yet played mainly on the left.Although his defending most of the time was poor I remember he went on a remarkable mazy dribble v Liverpool in the cup.

Ben Iroha is another left back we’ve forgotten.A Nigerian, talented but very erratic -retired from the game because of BUNIONS!

90. Matt - 19/01/2009

markymark – doesn’t matter why he retired, Iroha was quality.

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