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Watford 0 Scunthorpe United 2 (23/10/2010) 23/10/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from an underwhelming afternoon at Vicarage Road.

1- My last thunk regarding the general quality of our play this season after Tuesday’s game couldn’t have been more unfortunately timed. This one stank to high heaven… and there exists no more reliable an indicator of an awful performance than the home crowd, at 2-0 down, booing the display of four added minutes at the end of the game as being too long. Miles had left much earlier in the half seeking solace in a cigarette… correctly deducing, one assumes, that we weren’t going to score if the game continued until the East Stand is rebuilt. The reality remains, of course, that we expected far more of this this season than we have been subjected to… but the limitations of our squad were suddenly painfully evident.

2- In particular, our ability to cope with both injuries to key players, and of our young squad to bounce back from a poor performance looks like being tested to the full. Danny Graham’s departure didn’t look at all good, and one can only hope that if Marvin Sordell’s replacement was as a consequence of his earlier knock, then it was precautionary. Malky has demonstrated a sensible, disciplined instinct to err on the side of caution with knocks already this season, presumably in recognition of the need to keep everyone fit. Troy Deeney gave us all palpitations by apparently trying to get himself sent off on his appearance off the bench, potentially reducing our forward line at Derby to zero (has anyone got Craig Levein’s phone number? or Jay DeMerit’s?). Deeney could finally get a run in the team however, which might be a fairer basis to judge him on than the half-hour cameos that have characterised his Watford career thus far.

3- Not that we were short of players that could have been done with replacing, and not that I’m in favour of knocking youngsters, but few will have survived 90 minutes playing worse than Michael Bryan did today. He’s clearly got something, the quality of deliveries is decent and he’s got quick feet. He’s not remotely ready yet though and with his deliberation on the ball slowing down a game that we needed to stretch, the more direct, chaotic influence of Will Buckley staying on the bench was a little odd.

4- None of this should take anything away from Scunny, who did more than just win the game by default and were worthy victors. Tight, disciplined, tidy and, ultimately, clinical, they look a reasonable side. Few visiting right backs will have a greater influence on a game at the Vic this season than Cliff Byrne, who followed an exquisite finish for the first goal with a crucial sliding block as Danny Graham pulled the trigger during our good five minutes immediately afterwards, and denied a far post chance with a diving header to clear a right wing cross in the second, arguably worth another two goals to his side.

5- Lloyd reminded us why he’s only netted the one goal with a horrible miss to an open goal at the Rookery End. This miss contributed to a bizarre goal famine in front of the Rookery; of the 23 goals scored in the League at the Vic this season, only 4 have been at this end and only one of those, John Eustace’s bicycle kick against Coventry, scored by someone in yellow.


1. The Great Big O - 24/10/2010

Re thunk 5:

Lloydinho’s miss seemed to dis-spirit both team and crowd. Think of the lift we’d all have got if he’d repeated last year’s feat of scoring.

If only he’d managed to keep his header ten yards lower.

2. Woking Orn - 24/10/2010

Ref John Eustace being the only WFC player to score at The Rookery end,by using a bicycle kick;

Does this mean the only way a Watford player can score at that end is by not actually looking at it? Spooky.

3. MP - 24/10/2010

awful game only livened up by surprise and random dispersal of chocolate hob-nobs in the Rookery

4. James - 24/10/2010

Yesterday’s performance wasn’t really that much worse than Tuesday’s. The main difference was the finishing. We missed two golden opportunities and a handful of half-chances while Scunny were absolutely clinical. I agree that we never really got into our stride, but we still created enough to have come away with a point.

Bryant didn’t have his best game, but he wasn’t helped by the fact he was played out of position in the middle for the first half-an-hour. As soon as he moved out wide he looked far more comfortable and started putting in some decent balls.

Matt Rowson - 24/10/2010

he does put in decent balls, but as has been discussed in the Ipswich conversation, not knowing when the ball is coming is a problem, as is the fact that every attack slowed down when it reached him.

Harefield Hornet - 25/10/2010

Sorry – Malkey got this wrong tactically wrong right from the start and it got worse. We were far too narrow in the first half and didn’t create the impetus to get that vital first goal – isually from which we’ve gone on to do well this season. A stinker all round although I thought Taylor (M) at least emerged with some credit. I had to laugh at the muppets booing at the end although it was mostly kids on their £1 day out – what do they expect of this squad!

5. rousman - 24/10/2010

Why did we at 2-0 down start the second half playing 4-5-1 with Sordell wide left ? on the day we had 4 maybe 5 player’s having a off day on the same day that I think was the main problem. I agree with the point about Buckley. DC was missed to say the least.

Matt Rowson - 24/10/2010

i thought the change of shape was to give us something in midfield, where everyone was having an off-day. Marvin didn’t look too bad out wide I didn’t think.

6. Jeremy Clarkson - 24/10/2010

My car wouldnt start on Saturday morning, do you think it was trying to tell me something

A quick squirt of WD40 fixed it, pity I didnt take some to WD18, as the service on display was as damp and as weak as Peter Mandlesons handshake (so Ive been informed)

7. NickB - 24/10/2010

With Mackay and Barraclough playing central roles, we could have done with Fletch to stir things up a bit.

As it was, Watford produced a Lukewarm performance.

I thank you.

8. Johnny Boy - 25/10/2010

Not a great afternoon but tend to agree with ‘the big O’ that had LLoyd scored we would have seen a different result.
Felt the last two subs were Malky trying out players to see their reaction rather than some masterplan to win the game given general ‘ennui'( french word, don’t what it means but sounds good) that had settled over Watfords play.
Did anyone read Gareth Southgate’s piece in the Sunday Times on Adam Johnson on how he recalled him from loan at Watford because AJ was doing well and M’borough weren’t and this would look bad eventhough he wasn’t going to play him as Alan Dowling was still first choice – the b—–d, I rekon Watford would have held onto their automatic promotion place that season if Johnson had remained, leading to another season in Premiership – new stands built – aaaahhhh – the beauty of hindsight.

9. JohnF - 25/10/2010

How come when we get turned round to attack the Rookery in the first half we always start slowly and, as far as I can recall this season at least, lose. It is now noticeable that sides are doing this more often, presumably because they have done their homework.

However, it wasn’t helped by Bryan moving straight into the middle in a game where we started by hitting the ball in the air, maybe, because there was no outlet wide to the right in particular. Teams like Scunny need to be stretched and they weren’t. Young McGinn worked his socks off but the slow start really did us.

10. David, Aylesbury - 25/10/2010

Think this game just proved what we already suspected – to do well at this level we need all our players to give 7-8/10 performances every game. Sadly, against Scunthorpe we had most of them performing below par – and that is the difference between us winning and losing matches.

Fair play to Scunthorpe. They came with a plan and played it to perfection. I guess it is open to debate as to whether our players simply had a bad day or whether they weren’t allowed to play as well as they usually do.

I agree Bryan tended to hold on to the ball too long but at least in the second half we had the width which had been so lacking previously. Although I think he does well playing in the ‘hole’ – a big difference between Tuesday night and Saturday was that Scunthorpe allowed us no time on the ball to find him in that position. That meant too often we resorted to the long ball straight from the back.

So, yes – a poor game but let’s not get too upset, there was no shortage of effort so let’s hope it was simply a bad day at the office. It’s how they react to this against Derby and Forest that will be important.

11. AdrianP - 25/10/2010

Ripped my kitchen out on Saturday – looks like I picked the right day to do it.

12. Luke Fairweather - 25/10/2010

Johnnyboy…yes we may well have gone up again that season, but be careful what you wish for. We might have got our stand but we might also still have Boofers, Simpson, Cashton, Russo’s and an even bigger mountain of debt to climb out from under. I’d rather be broke with Malky than flush with Cashton thanks.

13. PDF - 25/10/2010

Interesting comment about Bryan. Mooney was very critical on the commentary about, given his quality of crossing, how rarely he took the decision to cross first time.
Strikes me as a simple instruction needs to go out – stop over thinking it.

Matt Rowson - 25/10/2010

Completely agree, also wrt David’s comment @10. Bryan actually contributed very little from wide of practical value due to his inability to cope with the speed at which he was closed down. He had to take a touch, shimmy himself some space, and eventually put a ball in by which time any advantage in stretching the play had been lost and, as has been pointed out over and over, the striker doesn’t know when to time his run.

14. DM - 25/10/2010

I’ll be the first to say it – Bryan is not good enough. Yes, he can cross, but his reliance on a number of touches will be quickly found out at this level – if it hasn’t already been.

Sure, time is on his side to improve and I hope he does, but I fancy a future in the 4th division, at best, awaits.

15. Dave Jackson - 25/10/2010

We have a very promising and successful central midfield partnership, we have a young (short and frail)and exciting wide player, it’s a home game, we have the chance to take the initiative with some more fluent attacking and taking the game to the opposition…. no, wait, let’s put the short lad in the middle, and not have any threat or presence out on the right… can anyone explain what he was thinking? It’s not as if McGinn gets loads of crosses in for all his recent improvement.
Also, it’s not being wise after the event, it was bloody obviously wrong at kick off. It’s frustrating, as was the lack of Buckley. What does he have against him? (and yes, I know he wasn’t great at Portsmouth).

graemeb - 26/10/2010

Totally agree with this. And while on the subject of our midfield, why is Jenkins so out of favour? A couple of seasons back he was being seen as a potential premiership player. Now he can’t even get a place on the bench. I know he didn’t perform quite so well last term, but young players often take a step back at this stage. I guess Malky sees him in training so I will trust his judgement, but it will be a great pity if his career does not progress from here.

Matt Rowson - 28/10/2010

Jenkins and Eustace didn’t work together terribly well… I think that cost him his place in the side initially. Agree that it’s a rum turn of events if he’s not even on the bench, but I think he had a knock over the last few weeks didn’t he?

16. DM - 28/10/2010

At one point the bench was somewhat overloaded with central midfield players. Until Cowie’s injury we had Walker, Jenkins and McGinn to cover Centre Mid on the bench.. and as a position where you rarely make a tactical change, more than 1 could be seen as a bit of a luxury.

Ultimately it’s the signing of Mutch that has pushed Jenkins down the order and they are very different types of midfield player.

17. DM - 28/10/2010

Oops, trigger finger. Meant to add the following line to the end..

Which all leaves RJ waiting for JE to pick up a knock, and nobody wants to see that, and not because Jenkins isn’t good enough either..

18. StevieT - 28/10/2010

It looks like I chose a good weekend to spend some time with friends in the northwest – three crisp autumn days, some good company and Blackpool illuminations and Tower were thoroughly enjoyable.

Looking at the goals on the highlights, it looks like we were guilty of not closing the second ball down quickly enough. Doyley’s attempt didn’t look as easy as I had imagined – he had to put power on a header while standing at the corner of the six yard box. Yes he should have tested the keeper but it certainly wasn’t an open goal.

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