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Watford 2 Crystal Palace 0 (28/02/2009) 28/02/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

1- Good stuff from the Don.  Comfortably his most impressive outing so far, he covered an enormous amount of ground, scored the first, made the second and got himself into positions to cause trouble throughout.

2- That opening goal was handy, mind, we’re custom-made to defend a lead at the moment.  At some point it would be nice to see how the new model copes with going a goal down.  Not against Palace though, oh no.  And offside or otherwise Colin’s reaction was tremendous… and him staying “on” was far more entertaining than a red card would have been.

3- Glad we’re not doing scores any more… would be difficult to know how to rate Mr.Loach.  Scarcely a save to make, but no small nervousness in the penalty area on occasions.

4- What a pass from Smudge to find Harley’s overlap…

5- Three games now against teams that are “down there”.  Continue this good run and lingering relegation concerns could be behind us in ten days’ time.


1. stephen hoffman - 28/02/2009

i think loach is commanding his area much better now.

2. hrnt1 - 28/02/2009

Is Marlon King getting any first team play at wherever he is playing and do you think it would be a good idea to get him back down to the vic. i belive he would add a bit of atacking spark to the game.

3. hrnt1 - 28/02/2009

and also to add on i thought we played well with some very good moments and some poor scrapy moments. brendan has got it right with the defence. we are not letting as many in!

4. Fran - 28/02/2009

What a thoroughly enjoyable game. I was in the corporate seats so had a fabulous view of Colin’s rant, which just enhanced my goal celebration. As with you, Matt, I’m glad he didn’t get a red, it would have blunted (sic) the entertainment. Cowie did well, although for a while he looked as though he didn’t want to score. While Smudge’s pass was notable, there seemed to be a number of decent through balls and knock-ons that went begging. I felt the absence of Tamas in those situations. But, yet again, we soaked up what pressure came our way and scored a couple of goals for a deserved win. 3 wins on the trot for the first time this season. I don’t believe we will fall into the relegation zone again, I am really looking forward to the rest of the season.

5. DW - 28/02/2009

1. Very impressive, that’s 3 games without conceding now, our new centre half IS the player we have missed since Shittu went north.

2. 9 Points in 3 games but just look how ugly our position would be had we not won.

3. Loach is a funny fish looking simultaneously athletic, strong and mobile yet also very very unclear as to what exactly he should be doing.

4. The tackle by Aidy in the first half was outstanding, another of our back 3 who are unrecognisable from only 4 weeks ago.

5. Once again my otherwise pleasant train journey from Putney was spoilt by Palace fans who really are a throw back to the worst excesses of the 1980’s

6. Sirhornet - 28/02/2009

To me, the most encouraging thing is that in our last two home games we have shut out a “footballing” side in Swansea and Colin’s bunch of thugs. We now seem able to deal with whatever Championship opponents can throw at us, and then to create chances and score goals. As impressive was the way that the reorganisation caused by JDM leaving the field did not phase the players one bit.

So in answer to point 2 I think we could easily come back from a goal down but I hope not to see this hypothesis tested anytime soon.

Jobi- a new player or what? Tackling back, running with menace. Was the thought of moving to Charlton that horrific? If so, will Brendan use it as a tool to motivate others?

Mike Williamson – bargain of the century! I don’t know how many extra cucumbers the Russos will need to shift to pay for him but the solidity and skill he has brought to the defence cannot be underestimated.

It is just six weeks since the shambles vs the Blunts-are we really watching the same team?

7. ramsgate horn - 28/02/2009

Didnt come, .still relieved we are striging some wins together. congrats to Don on his first. we are now putting some points between us and the drop zone. still a long way to go, Still up the orns, how do folk feel about O.TOOLE going to sheff u? im disappointed

8. Tim Turner - 28/02/2009

Very restrained of you not to say more about the opposition, Matt. That great philosopher Norman Stanley Fletcher once coined a phrase that describes this Palace team to a tee: ‘Charmless nerks’.

The charitable view is that after conceding four goals against us in the FA Cup, Warnock realised that they needed to give us less space. The uncharitable view is that they thought they could niggle their way to victory. How they got away without a booking until somewhere around the 80th minute is beyond me – from early in the first half, Tommy was getting flattened every time he received the ball.

All of which makes the win all the more satisfying, of course.

9. Richard S - 28/02/2009

Very efficient performance against a physical and direct side, we would surely have lost the same match 6 weeks ago. Cowie got into some fantastic scoring positions from midfield and would be my MoM

As a sceptic, I’ll again say full credit to BR for the approach to this game. I wonder how much of the improvement is due to the tactics etc and how much is a natural consequence of the strengthening of the central defence? Williamson M is looking a very shrewd piece of business right now.

10. Matt Rowson - 28/02/2009

ramsgate – I’d rather have hung on to JJ than lose him, but if we’re going to shift someone out to raise money then he’s a decent candidate. His goalscoring record exaggerates his current ability – I think he could be a very good all round midfielder, but he isn’t yet and would struggle to make the bench here at the moment. Given that, I’d rather lose him than a number of others. And I can’t imagine he fancied hanging around for maybe a place on the bench with “bigger” clubs sniffing around.

Tim – I did mention Warnock in the thunks. Given his presence, your observations should be taken as read, however accurately observed.

Mike Williamson – no argument with any of the comments above. The business.

11. JohnM - 01/03/2009

Marlon King was on the field for Middlesboro’ today (Came on as sub, I think)
As I have been unable to attend games recently due to work, I can’t venture an opinion on Marlon back at Watford. Would it disrupt the current team?

12. Mick Wadham - 01/03/2009

What are they putting in there tea, 3 wins 6 goals no replys. bloodly marvelous!! Plymouth, Charlton & Forrest next 5 points would be nice.Being in Arizona i have to rely on sky sports text and the bbc live text for info. hope i can get home before the season finishes.

13. Smudger Jnr - 01/03/2009

Another three points in the bag for the hornets. For me, the most impressive thing is that we started upturn in form with wins against Burnley and Swansea, teams who have not lost many points before or after our meetings. Now it is more important we continue our form against fellow strugglers as it is mighty competitive down there at the moment.

As far as O’toole is concerned, i see no point keeping him warming the bench (if in the squad) when he can be learning/developing elsewhere without us paying his wages. Some of the comments above are as if we have given him away for free permanently! I for one am happy with our midfield, and believe he is rightly down the pecking order. Also, i think January could not have been more perfect for us. we didn’t lose/sell top players, all of the signings have looked great additions, and we’ve shifted dead weight. Personally, i take it as a real positive that we should be in the position to be loaning players to other teams in our division without missing them.

Lets get behind Rodgers and start giving him the credit he deserves.


14. kris - 01/03/2009

Just a couple of points.

Overjoyed as always to beat a team of Colin’s. I really dislike the man but I respect him and the passion he always displays for his charges and for the game.

Re. O’Toole I recommend you listen to the interview on BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/7910374.stm). It doesn’t sound like he wanted to go but did to get some football – something he doesn’t seem likely to get at the Vic. To me it’s a win/win for us. Either he plays well and his value increased or he plays less well and we get a young player back more experienced. The only reason people find this weird is that he is going to a team higher up the table. But what does it say about our strength in depth (in midfield at least) when we can loan out a center mid who’s scored 8 goals so far?

Re. Williamson – first of all WOW. I never thought he could become so influential so quickly and doubted he would at all. Shame on me. But tell me how a player of his ability and age never played above league 2 level in his career? Anyways – it seems a point Matt made a while ago, that Jay Demerit only shines with a senior (or as BR calls it ‘no. 1’) defender next to him, was spot on. With MW as the senior defender (not age but defensive awareness or something) both Jay and Mariappa suddenly seem rock solid centerbacks.

As for thunk 5 – true we could be well clear of the relegation zone in 10 days time but we could also be well and truly in the mire if we underestimate our next opponents. Don’t forget that Swansea were on a roll and we were in the relegation zone when we beat them. I want focus on the next game and nothing more.

15. Leggatts Rookery - 01/03/2009

Sorry hrnt 1, you want King back at The Vic ? The bloke is 100% trouble, in the dressing room and the night clubs.

I’d rather be relegated.

Damn fine performance yesterday BTW..!

16. Wat4Steve - 01/03/2009

1.This was a scrappy game and not what we have been used to in recent weeks. That said we showed character and came through. A month or two ago we may have thrown this one away.

2.Another clean sheet. This wasn’t a classical defensive.
performance however and for 10 minutes on about the hour we did look vulnerable. Still we got over it and this will surely give them confidence £150K for Williamson, proving to be a great bargain.

3.Cowie, I agree he was very busy, I actually thought he was superb against Swansea together with Williamson Buck is proving he has a eye for a player. Boofers biggest problem IMO. That said Cowie should have e had a hat trick and on another day it could have cost us but a goal we help him settle and endures him to the fans.

4.Warnock always good to beat one of his team’s, even better if it’s Palarse! Personally I still think he (Warnock) is one of the games great characters but he could learn to be more gracious in defeat. Often teams that try to play football get undone by strong physical direct team like the once produced by Neil but today we stood up.

5.Loach, I agree he is a bit slow coming off his line and does not appear to be imposing enough. His is a big unit and need to own his area more. To me it doesn’t look like anything good coach can’t sort but why isn’t it happening.


17. Wat4Steve - 01/03/2009

JJoT has only gone on loan till the end of the season NO AGREEMENT exists (yet!) to make it permanent. I prefer him to Williamson but either way JJoT and Williamson on the bench are too similar and should we get am injury you would probably back the experience over youth.

I also know we are trying to make the Cork loan move permanent the directors are keen to do a ‘Webber style’ deal where they own the right to the player and would benefit for any future sell on fee.

With the wage bill being reduced until the end of the season expect another defender to join before the loan window closes, Buck would like Mancienne and or a left back, Hoyte will also be returning to Arsenal in the next couple of weeks.

Somebody mentioned King? The guy is a waster and will never return to Watford. He has arguably had one good year in an otherwise troubled career, fortunately Watford got the benefit from that year and a reasonable for his services but his time at Watford was troubled a riddled with incidences most of em brushed under the carpet by Boofers.

………Tamas is thriving under Brendan and has much more ability than Marlon why would you want him back? Hasn’t been noticed we are not kicking ball into channels and asking our forwards to chase it hence King would not fit out style of play. IMO Priskin was missed yesterday.

18. Dave P - 01/03/2009

I refuse to believe it was a coincidence that ‘Charmless Man’ by blur was played at half time yesterday!

19. Dan - 01/03/2009

Totally agree with Sirhornet – it was good to see us take on a physical, dirty, cheating Warnock side and come out on top. For all my earlier whinges about Buck being dogmatic, in Colin there really is a manager who only knows one way to play (and that’s probably why he never made it as a top manager).

Cowie looked good though he has a chronic lack of pace.

Not bothered about the loss of JJ, we have a million midfielders and he was not likely to trouble the first team in the next few months. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares at Sheffield Utd.

20. stephen hoffman - 01/03/2009

no way to bringing back marlon we’ve got three pretty good strikers- we dont need a guy with a bad attitude whos injury prone and is up on assault charges -and would ruin team morale.

21. Nick - 01/03/2009

found this still on palace fans board – not conclusively onside but surely close enough for Cowie to rightly be given benefit of the doubt eh Colin?

22. ApperleyOrn - 01/03/2009

Wat4Steve – re your point 5 (Loach needing to be coached to command his area) – dare I venture the opinion that, fantastic a servant as he was to the club, Chamberlain was never really one to command his area either, and he is responsible for Loach’s coaching…

Don’t get me wrong, Alec is an absolute Watford legend, but I just wonder whether he is the right man for the job with young Scott.

Anyway, that aside, I am sure it will come for Loach. He is still just a kid and, in my opinion, improving all the time. Thankfully he now has a central defender in front of him who can dominate and take away the need for those decisions on a regular basis.

23. JohnF - 01/03/2009

That was one tough game and I was pleased with the way they buckled down and battled. Both the central midfielders were excellent and considering that they are both teenagers, amazing really. I’d love to see Cork with us permanently but I really can’t see that happening at the moment, although whether he would get into the Chelski team in the next 3 years is really doubtful. I think the last Chelski junior to make it was Terry.
Loach is still very very young for a goalkeeper. He is in his first season at this level and will, I am sure, continue to learn and improve. We still have our moments in defense which must be nerve wracking for a young keeper.
We certainly look more constructive with our passing, trying to make something happen where it counts, although McAnuff doesn’t look a goalscorer when he gets in on goal. Thank goodness the defender took pity and scored for him.
However, I agree that we need to keep winning to make sure we stay out of trouble. A bad week away could see us right back in trouble.
JJ good for his experience, Marlon, trouble.

24. Matt Rowson - 01/03/2009

Dan – Cowie may not be a speed merchant but if he can continue to time his runs as well as he did (twice through on goal? And behind the defence for the second?) that’ll do me. I wouldn’t go as far as “chronic lack of pace” either.

25. DM - 02/03/2009

Another good win and yet more deserved plaudits to Brendan – we have finally added resilience to our armour. While the recent clean sheets have been welcome and well earned, this was the first time in the last few home games that we have been put under genuine and sustained physical pressure throughout. We buckled a bit at times (especially just after the DeMerit sub, which unsettled the whole back four given there were 3 changes in 1) but we held firm and looked comfortable in the end.

Colin had clearly told his charges to rough us up. Lee spent the game with his elbows in Williamson’s ribs, knees in his back and head under his chin, and I may be alone in thinking our new man struggled for the first 20 minutes. More power to him for battling through and eventually getting the better of his man though. Add in the treatment dished out to Cork, who must be counting the bruises this morning he was clattered so often, it was obvious to see Colin’s plan. That it failed so miserably (and his post match posturing is laughable. Palace had more chances. Really ?) makes the end result all the more enjoyable.

One other thing – Some of the comments about Loach seem a little harsh. Look at the number of clean sheets we are now keeping. Williamson’s getting the kudos, but you don’t keep that many clean sheets without all of the members of the back four and keeper contributing. Yes, our young number one could command his area better, but that will come. He’s earning our patience on that one.

I’d also challenge Apperley’s point that Chamberlain is not the man to coach him. Ben Foster has already gone on record as crediting Alec with the improvements in his game. Also, who do we think is responsible for getting Loach to the stage he is already at ?! Alec is doing a grand job with our keepers and I’d back him to contimue doing just that.

26. Sequel - 02/03/2009

If Aidy could see the way Macanuff’s playing right now, he’d be turning on his managerial merry-go-round.

27. Weymouth 'Orn - 02/03/2009

Key point in the game – Aidy’s excellent first half tackle (on Ifil?) on the penalty spot. If he’d got that wrong, we would have been able to see how we’d cope with going behind!

28. Old Git - 02/03/2009

Great to see The Big Match Revisited on ITV4 yesterday, Brentford v. Watford from 1979. I can’t believe it was thirty years ago…five of those who appeared against Brentford went on to play for us in the First Division, including of course, Luther and Ross. If you missed it, you can watch it online.

And…my favourite moment from Saturday’s win over Palace (apart from laughing at Warnock) was the song…’two Ross Jenkins, there’s only two Ross Jenkinses.’

I’m very pleased we’ve signed Ross Mark 2 on a three year deal.

29. Andy - 02/03/2009

Decent game. I’m so glad we’ve kept some good clean sheets. Ooo I fancy a trip to Charlton on Saturday…

30. Paul Goss - 02/03/2009

Have to agree. The Mirror describes him as a “pacy winger” but I see him more as a right sided midfielder. In the article he says he is still adjusting to the pace of English football but if he continues to deliver I don’t think many people will care how fast he is.

31. East Stand Man Expat - 02/03/2009

There was an interesting if not disturbing comment from Colin on a Palace website in that he sent some of his substitutes to have a look at the linesman as he was not happy about one or two of the earlier off side decisions. I know just before the first goal the linesman was surrounded by the subs and I wonder if he was put off by them. Having said that the link in 21 above suggests that the no offside decision was the right one so well done lino. The comment is still amazing though.

32. Somerset 'orn - 02/03/2009

The best team won on Saturday, and I wouldn’t mind betting we finish above Palace now just to hammer the point home – and you’d never have thought that three weeks ago.

33. Johnny Boy - 02/03/2009

IMHO, I think the current midfield is the reason we are doing so well. 2 teenages who look as if they have been playing together for about ten years, who 9 times out of ten make the right decision when in possesion – something not expected of ‘youngsters'(You will never win etc……….Alan Hansen) and always seem to be available/pestering. Not that long ago mediocre teams were running our midfield ragged – not now.
Combine those two with an overpaid, out of form, showboater who now, suddenly, tracks back, gets 100% involved, eager for the ball and looking a £1.75million player. Final piece of the jigsaw is a scotsman, who none of us had heard of, arrives from one of the less glamorous teams north of the border and lo and behold after 4 games he’s scored one, made one and had plenty of other opportunities and his first game was up against Chelski.
It’s looking good at the moment – long may it last.

34. JohnM - 02/03/2009

Thank you, Old Git, for the link—I missed the show on ITV4
Oh the memories—I saw that match at Brentford—the memory returned on seeing it!
Thirty years—Oh, the memories. Oh, the lost hair, the knees that didn’t creak, the long vanished flat stomach, the carefree single life —money to spend—. Oh, well, at least I still have my own teeth.

35. Esp - 02/03/2009

Richard S wondered if the change in the side was down to tactics or strengthening the defence. Well, it is bioth of those things PLUS (and Brendan banged on about this at the excellent Fans Forum) it is the ethic of sheer hard work. he does not strike me as someone who suffers fools and he has no time for players whingeing about not being in the starting 11. I imagine there will be players who simply fall by the wayside at training; I am sure he has got rid of all the bushes around the London Colney pitches – there will be no hiding places!
Some of my worst experiences watching Watfoprd have been at Selhurst Park so a victory against Palace (my local club) is always pleasant. And don’t they play similarly to Colin’s personality? All the off the ball niggles and pushes in the back – Warnock all over. Only five weeks ago I thought Smudger was a shoe in for Player of the Season but on recent performances Lloyd Doyley and a very assured looking Aidy Mariappa are giving him a run for their money and isn’t it great to see such fantastic dealings in the transfer market…….Marlon King?? Who needs him 🙂
Finally I don’t think THIS Watford manager will be linked to a job at a relegation threatened Brighton anytime soon.
Bring on the Addicks!!

36. tet - 02/03/2009

Do the maths, carry on like this, win every game till the end of season, creep into the playoffs on goal difference and have a jolly good time at wembley, dreaming yes, but don’t we look good at the moment. I thought I’d never say it but I agree Wat4Steve I missed Tamas Saturday how many would it of been with him playing. The way Marlon’s reportedly been behaving he won’t be playing for anyone unless he’s let out on remand. I loved him when he was with us but that was then this is now. I wouldn’t like to see him back, but l’ll never forget the contribution he made in the playoff season.

37. Luke Fairweather - 02/03/2009

I have recently been going to home games in the Lower Rous with a Manc supporting mate and his 6 year old daughter. He enjoyed our early season form, lots of goals at both ends – and infinite stupidity -; but throughout he sniffily retained his Utd superiority and detachment.

And then the strange thing happened. Shortly after Jay retired on Saturday he remarked that “we look unsettled while the defence sorts itself out”. After a suitable pause, I turned and said; “what do you mean “we””.

For a moment I thought he might puke.

For the next game, I have bought his daughter WFC hat and scarf.


38. Wat4Steve - 03/03/2009

Even the most optimistic fan can not really believe the play offs are achievable, can they?

I friend of mine recently had attended a club event and whilst everybody else was autograph hunting he asked if he could sit done and have a chat with Brendan. He said he was very open and found him very approachable. I am a bit sceptical as I would not expect a manager to tell all but in hindsight a lot of what was said is more or less in the public domain and would be difficult to prove it came from the manager anyway but…..

Brendan basically wants to build the team around the strengths of Tamas and Jenkins he also happy to let anybody leave, anybody who does not fit with his work ethic, the clubs wages structure or who wants to go, including Tommy. He is of the view that WFC needs be become bigger than any one player and nobody is indispensable.

He has also had a run in with Hoskins in training over his work ethic, but then he isn’t the first to do that either!

39. markymark - 03/03/2009

ESP – How can you possibly tout Mariappa & Doyley for player of the season.They were both dreadful up to Christmas as was Demerit.You have to look at season as a whole and for that reason none of our defenders will be player of the year.
Smith has had dips in form of late but overall he’s streets ahead IMO

Regarding King, if you think about it, apart from our promotion season and his few games in the prem ( at the start and finish of the season ) as well as a few matches for Hull earlier this season he’s been far too inconsistent everywhere he’s been.

40. Old Git - 03/03/2009

Go for it Luke! Only a brain-dead cretin supports the Red Filth (apart from my friend Hughie, who has the justification of being both Irish and brought up near Old Trafford). Your duty is to save the little girl while there is still time. But it looks as if your mate is on the verge of conversion. Keep at it. Your reward will be in heaven.
Buy them that DVD that shows the Manchester United-Watford League Cup tie, in the days when the League Cup was a big competition. That should do it.

41. simmo - 03/03/2009

JohnM – I was also at that game and remember it for a Brentford fan who came out of one of the pubs before the game and straight over to me said “I hate you Watford fans” and then blew a raspberry in my face. That about sums up how intimidating it ever became at Brentford.

42. Harefield Hornet - 03/03/2009

More good solid stuff from the boys. Palace aren’t a great side but they can be dangerous and don’t throw the towel in easily. Nice to see the defence chucking themselves in front of everything when needed.

Although I too think Kings return would be a backward step, I think some of the comments above are a little bit unfair. People seem to have very short memories – he was absolutely sensational for us and plaed an enormous part in getting us promoted in the play-off winning season – probably the best natural finisher we have had at the club since god knows when.

OK so he’s a nutter, but genius is often flawed and we shouldn’t aim cheap shots at him now he’s moved on.

43. Matt Rowson - 03/03/2009

markymark – I wouldn’t tout Mariappa for POTY either, but if you think he was dreadful before Christmas then you really weren’t paying attention.

44. Esp - 03/03/2009

markymark – fair point about my number 2 and 3 choices for POTY. I was maybe getting a little bit carried away with how our defence has been transformed under Malky and Brendan. Plus it’s possibly no coincidence that Doyley’s form has improved so much since FLSnr has arrived
I am pleased to have the support of our esteemed Editor though with my comments on Aidy M!!

45. Big Tone - 03/03/2009

Harefield Hornet: Agree that Marlon King was great for us in ‘that’ season and we shouldn’t forget that (and no doubt that talent remains somewhere within that head of his to this day) but being a ‘genius’ doesn’t mean you’re allowed to act like an ar5ehole and expect people to like it or put up with it.

I wouldn’t touch him with a bargepole.

46. JohnF - 03/03/2009

I see that Brendan has sent Bangura out on loan for the rest of the season. It’ll do him good and I hope that this allows him to bring in the loan defender he was talking about. DeMerit is becoming injury prone and we are very thin on defenders. If Williamson gets injured we could have signficant problems. At the moment we would need to move Cork back and that would disrupt the midfield.

Talking of the play offs is tempting fate, as is Brendan being nominated for manager of the month. A couple of defeats and we are right back in the mire. Optimism is good, blind optimism is scary.

47. JohnM - 03/03/2009

Simmo: I must have attended three or four matches at Brentford over the late sixties and seventies, and I can honestly say that your encounter must have been with the most aggresive Brentford fan of his day. As you intimate, the level of aggresion at Brentford was at about under 5’s nursury level. Chelsea must have sucked the poison away.

48. Richard S - 04/03/2009

Not sure if this is the correct etiquette for this list to comment on the following match but need to get this off my chest.

My growing confidence in BR as been severely shaken by last night at Plymouth. What the hell was was he thinking of making all those changes? That his ‘methods’ will bring results regardless of personnel?

I’d thought that he was coming to terms with not only being Watford’s manager but also the demands of the championship but l’m now questioning that judgement. A relegation rival was in effect handed a jump start in a crucial six pointer and as Rodgers said at the weekend, its all about momentum and ours may well have been shot. You can’t take liberties with this division and frankly the other results last night were no more than we deserved. I’m only sorry for the faithful who made the journey down there in what must have been shocking conditions.

Big pressure now on Saturday at Charlton. Looks to me like we’re right back in the brown stuff and its largely self inflicted.

49. Luke Fairweather - 04/03/2009

I guess the question posed in Thunk Two about going a goal down have now be answered.

Bring on the Charlton, oh, and let’s score first eh?


50. Somerset 'orn - 04/03/2009

Couldn’t agree more, Richard S. It’s very hard to fathom his thinking…

Were Tommy, Jobi or Cork looking in need of a rest?… No. Is our squad now so in-tune with Brendan’s thinking that we can begin to use a Benitez-style squad rotation without affecting performances?… No. Are we so sure of safety now that we can use a game against ‘weaker’ opposition to experiment with the squad’s fringe players and captaincy?… er, no.

It wasn’t broke, and it didn’t need fixing.

This was a 6-point relegation battle at a difficult away venue on a wet and windy Tuesday night, and if there was any question of its importance beforehand, the league table shows it for exactly what it was this morning.

A naive team selection given that Demerit’s enforced absence gave us enough to cope with already. Let’s hope that this teaches Brendan another important lesson about the Championship, and that he shows the same willingness to learn and adapt as he has done so far.

Charlton is now a must-win, and we didn’t really need that, given our shocking way form.

51. Harefield Hornet - 04/03/2009

Richard S

Totally agree – what the **** did he think was he playing at. You MUST continue to pick a winning side in this division. We can’t afford to hand points to the likes of Plymouth just because the manager wants to pose as a Champions League manager – this is the Championship for gods sake – not the first round of the Carling Cup. Its our bread and butter. So we may have some fresh legs for Charlton but whats the *******point if squander the chance to win another extremely winnable game at other relegation rivals.

Severely miffed – I too thought he had woken up to the fact that we dont have as big/good a squad as Chelsea!

52. Esp - 04/03/2009

Can’t disagree with a word of that Richard – what a time to “rest” Tommy Smith! I think Demerit was carrying a knock but the other changes were inexcusable.
There is one footballing mantra that is cast in stone
YOU DON’T CHANGE A WINNING SIDE – confidence is fairly brittle in the bottom half of this league and Brendan will need all his motivational genius (that he tells us he has) to work some magic before another must win match on Saturday – another mistake and another lesson to be learned

53. JohnF - 04/03/2009

I reckon that we need 55 points to be sure of safety. With 14 games left that means we need 16 points or 5 wins and a draw. However, the sooner we get them the better as our away form remains poor.

I gather that the first half was really poor; Sky Sports News thought that we were lucky to go in only 1 down at half-time. It is difficult to tell from one away game whether the selection was the problem but so many changes after a settled spell seems a little naive. It isn’t the system that wins games but the players playing in the system. If they are off form or not used to each other it will not work. I understand the need to rest players, particularly with such a young squad, but a little caution would seem to be in order. Having said that I wouldn’t necessarily have expected to get something from Plymouth but the other results certainly put our position in stark focus.

54. JohnF - 04/03/2009

Oops only 12 games but still 16 points.

55. Matt Rowson - 04/03/2009

Twenty twenty hindsight guys. I don’t agree that the fact that we lost means that the decision was wrong. Given that such mistakes as were made (Williamson struggling with his charge, Hoyte giving away a silly penalty) were by players who would have been in the team anyway given Demerit’s injury, it’s fanciful to say that we’d have done better with the first choice line up.

Demerit was forced. Priskin was back from suspension. Cork was kicked around on Saturday and given a very heavy Plymouth pitch in difficult conditions, and given that we’re playing a pair of (albeit very good) teenagers in centre mid I can’t see an issue with playing Williamson, it’s only strong competition that’s keeping him out anyway. Ditto Harley, who’s a sturdier option than McAnuff.

We’ll never know whether we would have won with a full team. What’s beyond dispute is that Cork and McAnuff got what’s likely to be the only rest they’ll get for a few weeks given their schedule. If they’re fresher as a consequence and we go and get something at Charlton then maybe it wasn’t such a daft decision.

56. Simon - 04/03/2009

Although each of the changes can be justified very easily on a single basis (as indeed you’ve done Matt), I think the slightly odd thing was to make quite so many at the same time.

Still, I’d have been happy with a point downthere and, by all accounts we nearly got that and, as you rightly point uot, we’ll never know.

Let’s hope they can put it right in the next two games though as wins against Charlton and Forest would make everything look a lot rosier. Charlton are pretty much down if they lose or draw at the weekend and Norwich’s position isn’t the best. It’s going to be very tight down the bottom but we’re helped by the fact that we’ve got a number of winnable home games and the sheer volume of sides potentially in trouble at the bottom. The way they’re playing, don’t necessarily rule out Palace joining their south London rivals come the end of the season.

57. simmo - 04/03/2009

Matt R – I understand the points you make but like everyone else I feel you must play your strongest team at all times. If any of the “rested” players are injured on Saturday what would have been the point of resting them against Plymouth?

However where I agree is that the starting line up against CP may not have won anyway. Lets give some credit to Plymouth who yet again out played us. Have we forgotten that Plymouth took 4 points off us last year and beat us earlier this season at the Vic. In fact I can’t remember when we last beat Plymouth in a league game although I am sure someone will tell me. So even with our best 11 it was never a guaranteed 3 points.

However safety is still within our own hands and last nights defeat really should not make any difference. I like everyone want us to get to safety as soon as possible but we will have more setbacks between now and the end of the season. After the last few weeks we should forgive Brendan his indiscretion on this occasion.

58. Richard S - 04/03/2009

Yes, we might have lost anyway, but how many looked at the team (before kick off) and didn’t feel something was odd about it? Its a relegation six pointer, away from home, your strongest team may include some horses for courses, but 4 unforced changes on top of an enforced reshuffle? Surely that’s too many, I reckon much better quality squads than ours would have struggled to deal with rotation on that scale.

To my mind and 24 hours later, I’ve read nothing to change my view is that in the planning of this, there must have been at least a subliminal ‘its only Plymouth, our class, system, method’ etc will be enough to see us through. That’s what I meant by taking liberties with the division, the vibe given off that we’re better than our position.

Sure we might get something on Saturday and we can perhaps banish this one as a bad memory, but our margin for error has now been considerably reduced.

59. JohnM - 04/03/2009

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

I can fully understand the frustration of seeing Watford play and lose with a weakened side. However, if the next two matches produce wins and fresher players, then BR can don his smoking jacket, lean back in his recliner, smile, sip his single malt, smoke his cigar and make crude gestures at his critics.

Lets see what happens on Saturday.

60. Old Git - 05/03/2009

Now I am beginning to understand. If we win a couple of matches, then Brendan Rogers is something of a managerial genius, he is a great appointment, the future’s yellow, whoo-hoo, what a tranformation in Doyley, McAnuff etc. we are really starting to play, relegation no longer a possibility and what great signings he has made!
But if we lose a game, we are back in the mire, he doesn’t know what he is doing, his team selection is bizarre, he can’t see the obvious things that even BHappy posters can see.
Can someone tell me what I am supposed to think if we get a draw on Saturday?

61. Wat4Steve - 05/03/2009

My under standing is;

1 – Defensive = Changes forced
2 – Priskin most agreed we missed him v Palace he is more often than not going to start in Brendan’s team
3 – Cork carrying a knock picked up v Palace

So that’s two changes unforced changes then;

4 – Harley v Jobi. Jobi has been kicked off the park in his last couple of games, arguably away from home against a physical team the stronger defensive option was probably a shrewd move. A month ago nobody would have complained about this decision.

5 – Smith v Hoskins, arguably the strangest. Smith is off at the ends of the season, perhaps Rodgers wanted to see what Hoskins had to offer, perhaps he felt his tenacity and pace would be a better fit. Perhaps Tommy has been struggling, he did recently say Smith had play a lot this year and had carried a huge burden on his shoulders.

The pitch was forecast to be heavy, perhaps he felt the skill of Smith / McAnuff wouldn’t hold up!

One defeat will not break the season any more than a couple of good performances will make it. The team have found a bit of consistency in recent week perhaps a few fans need to find some too!

62. Wat4Steve - 05/03/2009

Ps Every player brought in has been a first team regular at some point in the season. It is not as if he played a few youth team players

63. SteveG - 05/03/2009

I agree that it did seem a strange number of changes to make at once, but it wasn’t so long ago that we might have said that Harley in place of McAnuff and a centre midfield of Jenkins and Williamson WAS our strongest line-up, so with the enforced change at the back, the only real change that could be said to be an ‘obvious’ weakening was Hoskins for Smith – and even there you had voices saying that Hoskins was unlucky to be dropped a few weeks ago…and of course this change was reversed at half time. It’s not as if we played a whole team of reserves.

Still, it puts the talk of play offs into perspective. I still think we should be able to be comfortably mid table by the end of the season, and from where we were not so long ago, let’s settle for that.

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