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End of Term Report Part 2 22/05/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

I have to confess that after a fortnight in the new house I still haven’t unpacked my study. Therefore I still don’t have a match programme from last season to guide me through the various different sporters of each first team shirt so apologies in advance if I miss someone and have to backtrack. I would of course be unpacking now, but Rahelle is in bed next door to the study and has just got up and thrown the curtains open at 8.30pm proclaiming, “It’s morning!”. Anyway…

6- Jay Demerit

August’s exodus, and the ostracism (if only temporary in one key case) of several others left our captain as one of very few experienced players in the first team squad. Bullish, aggressive, athletic Demerit may be, but he never really carried the captain’s armband comfortably or convincingly; his absence with a freak eye injury was keenly felt, but Demerit’s form over the season suffered in comparison to his resurgence alongside Mike Williamson at the end of the previous campaign, a partnership that never looked like being recreated alongside Martin Taylor. The recent announcement of Demerit’s departure confirmed what has been evident since he postponed contract discussions until after the forthcoming World Cup Finals. Jay has been a terrific servant to Watford, his attitude and application never in question but he’s always needed a senior partner. Would have been splendid to hang on to him, but in the circumstances of needing to shed higher earners and with the forthcoming jamboree serving as an opportunity for Jay to secure a big signing on fee for perhaps the last time, we should all wish him well.

Next Season: The accepted wisdom seems to be that Jay is moving abroad. Joining the considerable American influx to the Bundesliga seems a reasonable punt, perhaps to a solid bottom-half side. Which gives me an excuse to insert Borussia Mönchengladbach in a BHaPPY post for the first time…

7- Don Cowie

Don’s form suffered towards the end of the campaign; frankly he looked exhausted. Whether it was a case of too many games, carrying a knock or merely loss of form, popular opinion seemed to turn unsympathetically against the Scot – never a boo boy, he nonetheless seemed to attract more grumbles than seemed entirely fair. When on song Cowie is industrious, deft and clever… not quite quick enough to be a top winger, quite obviously, but then if he had pace to complement his other considerable attributes he wouldn’t be playing for us. As reliable a deliverer of set pieces as there is in the squad as betrayed by his lofty position in the Assists table posted a week or so ago, Cowie will remain one of the cornerstones of next season’s team. Good job too.

Next Season: A key man.

8 (#1) – Tommy Smith

It seems like an awfully long time ago, but Tommy played five games at the start of the campaign before his dramatic departure, scoring twice and creating four in that period. That rare and precious thing, a consistent and reliable frontman, it’s rather tragic to have seen Smudger struggle with injury and, along with everyone else, the general chaos at Fratton Park. He was never going to stay, of course, much as he apparently wanted to, and the abortive move to Reading was very funny indeed, but it seemed inconceivable a year ago that Smith’s season wouldn’t be a continuation of the invention, drive, skill and verve that characterised his second spell at Vicarage Road.

Next Season: Wolves were certainly interested a year ago; whether rumours of renewed approaches are the work of Tommy’s agent or something more substantial remains to be seen. Michael Kightly’s ongoing injury problems suggest the latter is plausible. It would feel odd rooting for Wolves, though…

8 (#2) – Stephen McGinn

Explicitly “one for the future”, in adherence to the advertised and sensible model of spending what little money we spend on potential, McGinn showed flashes of this potential at most. That’s fine really; the caveats presented on his arrival prevented any unreasonable expectations developing, but it’s fair to say that McGinn’s occasional cameos whilst suggesting an enthusiasm to get stuck in and get involved haven’t exactly demanded a starting berth as yet. Seemingly destined for a central midfield role, his outings in wide positions have seen him drift inside in search of the ball.

Next Season: It seems inevitable that we’ll see a lot more of McGinn, and make demands of that potential.

10 – Danny Graham

There’s a danger that the lasting memory of Danny’s first season at Watford will be of his extended barren spell during the second half of the season, unhelpfully mirroring a similar goal-free run during his last season at Carlisle that had been noted by many on his recruitment. It would be unfair if this were so… Danny not only ended up our leading scorer but also our leading creator of goals, and it was generally acknowledged that even when the goals weren’t going in for him the side looked a lot more potent with him in it. Frankly a striker so mobile, so honest and so aware of what’s going on around him is always going to be an asset, even if a general bedraggledness, a lack of selfishness and arrogance that I remember discussing early on with my co-editor, means that spells without scoring might crop up again. We’ll all put up with those I think, particularly if Graham ends up being paired with the pace that could exploit his intelligent link-up play.

Next Season: The only striker on the books at the time of writing who could even generously be described as “experienced”, a lot of weight is on Danny’s shoulders going into the new campaign. Arguably the player we can least afford to get injured, as it stands.



1. JohnF - 25/05/2010

Thanks for these review pages Matt. It is always interesting to look back objectively. I agree about DeMerit who does not seem to be a leader and requires to be lead even though he makes quite a good spokesman. It would appear that his talking off the pitch is better than on the pitch and the frequent ill tempered exchanges with Mariappa we can do without. I think Cowie has had a steady year and we certainly notice when he has a poor game, a sure sign of an influential player. I think he found the first full season very tiring and, like Danny Graham probably needs an occasional break. McGinn is young but showed signs of quality but without regular games it must be difficult to adjust to a very different style from Scotland. We need to see who comes in on loan and whether Eustace stays but I think some quiet hope for reasonable season as a number of players have gained experience and so has the management team. Now we just need to get the finances sorted and stabilised and maybe the future will be one to look forward to, cautiously optimistic I think.

2. drewoneone - 25/05/2010

Yes – good luck wherever you go Jay. That opening goal at the Millenium Stadium is still fresh in the memory.

3. Lanterne Rouge - 29/05/2010

I could see Smith being a central figure for Pompey next season although whether they can afford to keep him is a moot point. A Chichester based mate reckons he looked the part in his few appearances and Picquionne and Dindane have already gone. They might just build a team around him.

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