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Watford 0 Nottingham Forest 0 (26/12/2009) 27/12/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the Boxing Day encounter with Forest

1- First off, one should perhaps (in the absence of Peterboro thunks) acknowledge that it’s rather good to actually have a club to trundle out to watch at silly’o’clock on Boxing Day. However genuine or otherwise the threat to the club’s future presented by Russo’s disgusting posturing in the wake of the AGM, it felt real enough. We’re here, watching football. That will do for starters; the future comes later.

2- Nottingham Forest. This incarnation of the “Tricky Trees” is hewn entirely in their manager’s image… peevish, miserable and charmless. Chief protagonists were pantomime dame Lee Camp, and the remarkable Chris Gunter. A note, Chris… if you’re going to feign injury to get an opponent booked, best bet is to time your yelp of pain as the tackle arrives rather than a minute or so before it. You’ve a better chance of success if the opponent doesn’t take the ball cleanly, too, but see also (3). And then Billy Davies himself, celebrating a nil-nil away from home as if he’d secured promotion, despite watching his left back get away with a save on the line that his keeper would have been proud of (if he’d got anywhere near Lansbury’s shot) seconds earlier. Class? Never heard of it.

3- Andy D’Urso. Almost a parody of himself… a quite extraordinary combination of pedantry and utter inability to keep up with play. Rous Stand onlookers were, I am advised, able to hear Gunter’s comedy yelp, divert attention to D’Urso to confirm that, no, he wasn’t paying attention and then look back at the ball to see Helguson’s tackle win it cleanly. A referee ought to be able to keep up with that I think. At times he was almost a tribute act, too cornily like D’Urso to be credible… his incompetence was largely incidental until the final few minutes…

4- An open game, one of those that it was difficult to reconcile with a nil-nil scoreline. Equally difficult to understand is Forest’s ongoing unbeaten away record… a decent side with plenty of attacking options, but neither infallible enough to steamroller all comers nor defensive enough to stifle games. For our own performance… one has to worry about the sudden tentativeness in front of goal. Four blanks in six games now, and whilst the build up is still good – by the end of the second half we were well worth three points, as Davies’ reaction demonstrates – we no longer have the conviction or the end product enough of the time. The magnificent Cleverley (see 5) is a reliable source of something, but Graham’s workrate and touch rather than his sharpness in front of goal are what’s keeping him in the side. That and lack of alternatives, natch.

5- With four loans (originally) due to end at the end of the year, it makes sense to review at this point. Cleverley is already secured for the rest of the season of course, and here again he was terrific; our lack of confidence is evidenced by his being the sole outlet however, reliable as he is. And opponents are wise to him, witness the excellent McKenna’s disciplined call to arms whenever Cleverley wandered infield. Cathcart, it seems, has already gone back; whether his loan would have been extended in the absence of injury now a moot point, but at best it seems fair to suggest that he hadn’t been wholly convincing. As with many of our centrebacks, one imagines that he’d look better alongside a more dominant figure, a Williamson; brought in to add competition, he at least covered Demerit’s absence better than we might otherwise have done. Helguson… well if this was to be his last outing at Vicarage Road in yellow (which seems likely with a halfway intelligent veteran of Championship management now in at QPR) it went sadly unmarked and unrecognised. All his performance lacked was a trademark lunatic far post header. Finally Lansbury, whose performance today epitomised the frustration. Clearly he has ability, on his good days he has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Cleverley. But some days he just doesn’t look that bothered, and this was one of those. The most intriguing of the decisions regarding loanees, then; Cleverley and Cathcart decisions made and clear, H we’d like to keep but one suspsects won’t be able to, Lansbury… without him we’re short of an attacking central midfielder. But you’d prefer someone you could rely on to turn up…

Sorry, bit of a long thunk there. Have a good New Year, and see you for the shit-or-bust at Stamford Bridge…


1. nffc - 27/12/2009

Helgusson was nowhere near getting the ball!

Hard luck, though – whilst your comments are without much grace, Watford were definitely the better side as Forest struggled to make their passing work on a dreadful surface.

Good luck with the rest of the season, on and off the pitch.

Matt Rowson - 28/12/2009

Thanks for your good wishes, but you’re seeing what you wanted to see.

Jeremy Clarkson - 28/12/2009

JC here

“nowhere near the ball”…and I claim you are Cinderella

2. NickB - 28/12/2009

Ah, Billy Davies. Makes Neil Warnock look like Leslie Phillips.

3. DM - 28/12/2009

nffc – in true Viz style, you are Billy Davies and I claim my five pounds.

4. rous man - 28/12/2009

When D’urso turns up you always know there could be one or two strange calls, but the penalty well what can you say ? the linesman had a very good view as well. Have never liked Davies he thought they should have won !! (must have been watching a different game to me) one last point sorry Matt, Derby are still the worst team I have seen at the Vic this season.

Matt Rowson - 28/12/2009

must not bite, must not bite, must not bite… 🙂

5. Nigel - 28/12/2009

For those who care about this sort of thing I notice that
“Andy D’Urso is a crap Referee” is available to sign up to on Facebook.

6. Simon in Oz - 28/12/2009

A loss and then a silly draw! Yet I love it. After the shannanigans of the last month, just a game and a team to support seem enough. I know bhappy has avoided comment on the workings of the last month, but this is my verdict: “I would trust Graham Taylor with my last dollar.”

Matt Rowson - 28/12/2009

Only avoided comment because it’s all so bloody painful and nauseating to think about. But your sentiment isn’t too far from mine… GT isn’t infallible, but his motivation and his judgment of people haven’t done us too badly in the past. He’s a lot closer to the action than some of those who have, cretinously, questioned his knowledge of “big business” and right to comment. His mere presence has been hugely reassuring over the past few weeks.

I almost mis-spelled cretinously there…

7. SteveG - 28/12/2009

1. At half time, I’d have settled for a point; at full time, my gut feeling was that a draw was probably a fair result overall, but a couple of days later I now think we could easily have had all three points and probably deserved it on the basis of the second half performance. The BBC highlights made us seem more dominant than it felt at the time.
2. A good season needs a number of ingredients including luck (think back to the promotion season), and we don’t seem to be getting much at the moment. Two very strong penalties not given (OK, we may not have scored them!) and, according to the Observer stats on Sunday, only QPR hitting the ‘woodwork’ (how long since it was actually wood?) more times than we have this season. A point at Peterboro and three against Forest and we’d be five places higher in the table.
3. Matt’s summary of the ‘state of the nation’ seems pretty accurate to me, and while I remain optimistic and would be very happy with mid-table safety, I think it contains enough caveats to make me stand by my ‘glass half full’ – although it was always intended as a positive statement to counter the more ludicrous “we’re all doomed” comments that sometimes surface after a bad result rather than any implied criticism of the work done by Malky this year with a very thin squad, which has been remarkable.
4. Assuming full fitness, and in relation to thunk 5, I wonder whether trying Cleverley as the attacking central midfielder in place of Lansbury, with Cowie and Harley on the flanks might not be a better option at the moment.
5. And despite a couple of wobbly moments, we did manage to keep a clean sheet against a decent side with a genuine threat up front.

Matt Rowson - 28/12/2009

Re (4) – not a bad shout, he’s done well enough in the middle in Lansbury’s recent absence. Occasionally his lack of defensive awareness, less vital on the flanks, have let him down a little… but given the current squad minus Lansbury this looks like the best bet – certainly better than Jenkins and Eustace, who don’t really work as a pair.

8. Sequel - 28/12/2009

I dare say dozy D’Urso had his reasons for not giving the late pen, but as I said after an earlier lamentable decision, he’s not going to give what he doesn’t want to see.

9. Aylesbury 'Orn - 28/12/2009

@ nffc – I was sat in the front row of the Lower Rous and can vouch that Helguson got the ball and that Gunter didn’t even have the intelligence to stay down after his girly yelp instead he got up and wandered back onto the pitch – job done on his part I suppose.

10. SteveT - 30/12/2009

Games like this bring out my masochistic side I think – I was thoroughly absorbed by this game and will throw a couple of thunks into the mix (if thats physically possible).

1 – D’Urso didn’t surprise me – he started badly, had a quiet middle hour and then made that horrid error at the end. I can’t only think he just didn’t see it !

2 – Danny Graham looks like he needs a break – and if we’re keeping Helguson, I’m not convinced the two work as a pair. Both lack pace and like to hang out at the back post.

3 – Re keeping Lansbury on loan. I vote yes, if we can get him cheap. He has a tremendous box to box engine and the good stuff outweighs the bad. I’d also argue that he brings something to the squad that we don’t have elsewhere.

4 – Is it me or is anyone else concerned that Malky leaves his substitutions too long? – a number of players were looking knackered at the end of the game.

11. Dave - 30/12/2009

Completely unrelated to the article…but I got Matt’s book for Christmas, and I thought I’d use this medium to say I think it’s great.


simonw - 30/12/2009

me too !

NickB - 30/12/2009

It’s a fine effort and makes a good top up present.

One gripe, Matt: what’s with the paper quality? It’s like those folded paper towels you get in public toilets…

Matt Rowson - 03/01/2010

Sorry Nick, not my department…

12. Jeremy Clarkson - 31/12/2009

JC here

to accompany #11 dave

yes Matt, i have thoroughly enjoyed your book from cover to cover

red shorts for me also
Oh I do wish my dream about Sunday comes true, u’orns

13. Esp - 31/12/2009

As there probably won’t be another new thread before the Chelsea game can I take this opportunity on behalf of their loyal readers to thank matt and ig for their valuable time,commitment and energy to keep the site up and running and of course for the unique and excellent match reports over the last year.
Excellent work guys and BHaPPY?? – surely the best fans’ website/blog in the country bar none.

14. simmo - 02/01/2010

Dave – likewise to all that you have said

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