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End of Term Report Part 4 24/05/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

It’s still only May.  It’s still only May….

13- Rene Gilmartin

Not an altogether surprising development, Rene’s release.  It could be argued, with some justification, that he didn’t get much of a crack at the first team.  It was suggested, by those that were there, that he bore limited culpability for the heavy defeat at St Mary’s in his last outing for the Hornets.  But the fact that he got such a brief run after Dyche took the step of dropping Loach suggested that there wasn’t a great deal of confidence in him, either.  From the point where he joined Yeovil in November, ostensibly our backup keeper moving out on loan, recall clause or otherwise, the writing was on the wall.

Next Season: Rene will leave Watford at the end of his contract. Having earned some praise for his performances at Yeovil and Crawley, you’d hope and expect that he’ll get a deal with a lower division side.

14- Ross Jenkins

Here’s the thing.  Ross Jenkins is clearly a very talented young midfielder.  Tough, disciplined, with a bit of an evil streak, and the suggestion of versatility in his later performances under Malky Mackay.  Here’s the other thing.  Ross didn’t start a game last season after mid-August.  Injuries, as ever, interrupted his involvement but with two combative central midfielders impressing in the first team it’s unlikely that a clear run would have seen him much more involved.  This state of affairs would not have seen credible three years ago at the end of Brendan Rodgers’ reign, but Jenkins has started scarcely as many games since as he did in 2008/09.

Next Season: Still only 21, Jenkins is too good a player to write off; he has ten years on John Eustace, and Hogg will attract suitors.  The question is whether he is satisfied with his present lack of involvement.

15- Stephen McGinn

What is there to say, really?  As you were.  Above and beyond the length of the injury, a particular blow must have been not making it back to fitness in time to play a part.  Psychologically, just getting onto the pitch however briefly would surely have indicated that Stephen was back.  Now he goes into pre-season without that boost.  His competitive return will now be a minimum of eighteen months after the injury at Doncaster.

Next Season:  In Stephen’s absence, his impressive final six months of action have been talked up and expectation will be high at the start of next season. After such a long absence, however, the question is to what extent it’s reasonable to expect Stephen to come back the same player.

16- Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan, in retrospect, was almost a caricature.  A classic young winger with stereotypical good bits (quick feet, crowd on their feet) and bad bits (no strength on the ball, limited end product).  He had a couple of not entirely convincing bursts of first team action but his last senior action came in November 2010, and a half-season loan to Bradford saw him uninvolved from early November onwards.  His release was not a surprising development.

Next Season:  Given his lack of physical presence and, frankly, bottle, it’s difficult to see what Michael’s level is.  Abroad, perhaps, rather than down the pyramid where a more physical competition really wouldn’t suit him.

17- Dale Bennett

A quite extraordinary season for Dale Bennett.  On the face of it, a bit of a disappointment;  after a reasonable amount of involvement last year, despite the unshakeable obstacle of the Mariappa/Taylor centre-back partnership, the signings of Mirfin and then Nosworthy seemed to push Bennett back out of sight in the pecking order.  He was loaned to Brentford in January but it was Adam Thompson, loaned to the Bees earlier in the campaign, who went to Griffin Park for the rest of the season at the end of the transfer window.  Bennett then played twice for the first team;  a couple of minutes on the wing – on the wing – at the end of the mental win over Burnley.  And West Ham.  And that hour at Upton Park might have rescued Bennett’s Watford career.  Bennett has looked impressive in senior action before, but had blotted his copybook with a suggestion of nerves and the odd error.  Cast firmly back in the limelight at Upton Park thanks to Nyron Nosworthy’s illness, Bennett was an absolute monster for an hour in a pressure, high profile game before being forced off with injury, a tour de force eclipsed only by Sean Murray’s impudent goal. One hour of first team action in anything like his preferred position, and your perspective changes altogether.  A week or two later, Martin Taylor – who came off the bench to replace him – would have had the start and Dale’s outlook would have been completely different.

Next Season:  If Mariappa leaves, Dale is the quick option at the back. Out of contract in July 2013, it’s make or break next season.


1. Harefield Hornet - 24/05/2012

Gilmartin – From albeit limited observation, looked like a flapper and inspired no confidence whatsoever. Made Loach look like Pat Jennings.

Jenkins – Have always been mystified by his inclusion other than when we’ve been down to the bare bones, which unfortunately has been quite frequently in recent seasons. Put in the odd tackle but has no vision and can’t pass water. Perhaps he’ll eventually prove me wrong but I’m not very hopeful.

McGinn – Gradually improved after an uncertain start but still often guilty of ball-watching. Was probably at his best when originally injured at Loftus Road. With other talented youngsters emerging it could be a long road back. (Probably to Scotland)

Bryan – Lightweight, Conference bound.

Bennett – stacks of potential but suspect watershed season approaching as suggested above.

Matt Rowson - 24/05/2012

Disagree re Jenkins, but I’ve already stated that. “Puts in the odd tackle” is gross understatement; he’s a competent destroyer and facilitator at worst.

Disagree re McGinn too. Looked terrific in Mutch’s place, more awkward when fielded out wide. But agree, long road back.

Harefield Hornet - 24/05/2012

Jenkins, like a few others, has always been a player that divides opinions. The thing is, I really want him to do well and I’ve always supported him vocally when he’s on the pitch. I just can’t ever remembering walking out of the ground after a game and thinking – bloody hell that jenkins played really well today! – Can you honestly remember any such games where he’s been outstanding, or even really good? Perhaps you can but I can never see him being any better than very average.

Matt Rowson - 24/05/2012

He was simply fabulous alongside Cork in Rodgers’ spell. Cork was 19, he was 18… and we surged up the table in the second half of the season. You can argue that other players (Williamson, Cowie, Smith) played bigger parts in that, but you don’t hide in central midfield, or get away with passengers. Jenkins was terrific (although my brother has always been less convinced in fairness… as you say, he divides opinions).

This season… he didn’t play often enough or more recently enough to form an opinion. Last season Sheffield United home (when he scored) and Scunny away (when he should have been sent off for a bad tackle but was otherwise excellent) stand out.

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