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End of Term Report Part 5 29/05/2011

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

If you’re still reading this you’ll probably care that we’re already about a third of the way through the close season proper (i.e. the last game at Vicarage Road to the start of the new season).  I care.

22- Andi Weimann

When Andi Weimann arrived on loan from Villa in January it was to a little bemusement. Having just lost Andrew Taylor and Jordon Mutch and despite the apparent if not-to-be-fulfilled potential for both to return, there were other areas of the team that appeared to be in greater need of re-enforcement. The justification came that Weimann was a long-term target, that the opportunity to have him on loan had come up and we’d taken it. I can’t have been the only one with a nervous eye on the end of the January window and the number ten shirt. As it turned out, Weimann turned out to be a valuable addition to the squad, as Malky had obviously anticipated. Never quite tearing up all before him, never quite being conspicuous enough to do so, the Austrian nonetheless carved a niche for himself; his arrival, as one of three senior strikers, released Troy Deeney into the wide midfield role that he grew into as the season progressed. Weimann’s own performances were encouraging; there’s something occasionally Helgusonesque about his competitiveness and selflessness, he’s tidy enough and added a genuine option and a few goals… even if his composure when he sees the whites of the keeper’s eyes is something that could do with improving.

Next Season: With nervous (if slightly more resigned) eyes still on the Watford no 10 shirt, it will be interesting to see where Weimann spends the season. He doesn’t look ready for top flight football yet, but one suspects we could do with having him around again.

23- Piero Mingoia

Piero Mingoia is very small. There, I’ve said it. That’s that out of the way. Being so small, it felt like a big ask to be pitched into the central midfield roles that he tended to fill in his first team outings. Kinda hard to get away with being tiny in that area of the pitch unless you’re ticking a lot of other boxes. Mingoia’s lack of bulk doesn’t need to be as terminal as Liam Henderson’s lack of pace, for example… strength and body mass is easier to work on than speed. In the meantime, however, our midfield looks horribly easy to penetrate with Piero in it. Whether he lacks the pace to do a job out wide isn’t clear… there’s certainly useful stuff there, a decent touch, a good range of passing, no little courage. If centre-mid is his position, though, that’s not going to be enough to challenge for a place for the moment. If you don’t contribute much defensively you need to be good enough to build the team around, and he’s nowhere near that yet.

Next Season: Red meat and Guinness diet over the summer, one hopes.

24- Matt Whichelow

We’re not doing bad for exciting kids, are we, all things considered. Matt Whichelow didn’t feature until the end of October and only four times before the New Year, but he made an increasingly strong case for himself as the season wore on, and despite Mackay’s obvious desire to protect the teenager he’d featured in 21 games before the season’s end. Of Whichelow’s many attributes – an obvious versatility being one, having been fielded out wide, in central midfield, up front and behind the main striker – it’s the relentless positiveness that makes him a popular substitute, like a wind-up toy that can be counted on to get onto the pitch and give it some whatever the circumstances. Particularly exciting is his finishing, an exquisite consolation goal at Pride Park having been written off as perhaps a lucky strike by this viewer until his late winner at Scunthorpe… less showy, altogether scruffier but no less the touch of a natural finisher.

Next Season: Whichelow looks like being nailed on for at least a place on the bench when available. Looking forward to seeing him develop.

26- Sean Murray

And speaking of promising kids. It’s been a while since we last had someone who was being built up before they got anywhere near the first team. We have Manchester City and their summer bid to thank for that, largely, although in the age of YouTube even achievements at Youth team level which would in previous years have resulted in no more than whispers, and perhaps a few words in the WObby can now be watched by a far bigger audience (I mean, for goodness’ sake, have you seen this? Or this?). It comes to something when, as a seventeen year old lad is bouncing up and down on the touchline, ready to make his debut against the division’s top flight-bound champions and you’ve got people behind you betting on whether he’d come on and score the winner or not. Adel Taarabt scored the opener before Murray could get onto the pitch and a previously balanced game tumbled away from us, perhaps sparing Murray that sliver of extra pressure, but it’s pressure he may have to learn to live with. The early signs were good though… in fifteen minutes or so he looked bright, determined, extremely quick, and in one moment of gorgeous promise received the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the area and spun into space facing forwards as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Keep watching.

Next Season: Malky gave Sean his full debut at Preston, so that’s one obstacle inconspicuously navigated. If Sean’s anything like as good as his billing, he’s likely to be a much more prominent feature of the coming campaign. Seventeen or otherwise.

27- Gavin Massey

There are three of them, so goes the popular wisdom. Three of this particular group of youngsters who look really special. Murray (above) and Thompson (to come in part 6) we’ve seen snatches of in the first team, enough to be excited by at any rate. Massey was the first of the three to debut, but his five sub appearances thus far – all but one in the season just gone – have barely totalled twenty minutes of match time between them. It’s kinda hard to make an impression when you’ve had less than seven minutes in a go to make it in.

Next Season: Another who is reported to have had big clubs sniffing around – Liverpool in this case – one suspects he’ll get more of a chance next time around.


1. Nick - 30/05/2011

I saw Murray in the game at preston and he loos very exciting. Tidy on the ball and the senior players seem to trust him in tight positions.

Looking forward to next season.

2. Tim Turner - 31/05/2011

Re Mingoia: is he any smaller than Gary Porter? He managed 472 appearances for us in central midfield, which suggests that height doesn’t necessarily rule out holding down a place there. And actually, something about Mingoia does remind me of Porter, and not just his stature – though as you say, he’s got a long way to go before he reaches that standard.

It never ceases to amaze me how many titchy players Watford bring through the youth ranks, given that most teams that visit the Vic seem to consist entirely of players who can look Martin Taylor squarely in the eye. From Rod Thomas to Anthony Macnamee to Mingoia, we’ve done a good line in short-arses.

(Not that size is any guarantee of quality, of course. Viz Liam Henderson.)

Matt Rowson - 31/05/2011

I don’t think Mingoia’s size precludes him from being successful in central midfield; to restate he just needs to tick a lot of other boxes. Porter was a terrific passer of the ball, had buckets of energy and scored goals. Mingoia could match him on all three counts if he continues to improve. But Porter would also put a foot in, he was far from a pushover despite his size. Mingoia isn’t strong enough without the ball yet.

Luke Fairweather - 31/05/2011

RE Mingoia and the height thing… I notice that Mr Messi is not the biggest, but as you suggest, compensates in other ways!Mind you Mr Porter never got blown over by a gnat sneezing at 300 metres away!

Stuart - 31/05/2011

I’ve only seen Mingoia play once, against Barnsley (the perils of living at the other end of the world), but I did think he did pretty well.

One sequence of play in the first half gave me particular reason to be hopeful. He was tackled by a Barnsley player, but then kept going and harried the opposition player ’til he got the ball back. If he can keep doing that, then his size (or lack thereof) shouldn’t be a real issue.

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