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End of Term Report Part 5 28/05/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

The Euros are coming, so I need to get a jiggy-on.  Here goes…

18 (#1) – Andi Weimann

Such a long time ago that his three games in September almost feel like a hangover from the previous campaign;  he joined for half a season, was injured initially and then started three games, none of which ending in defeat, before being recalled by Alex McLeish to cover injuries at Villa Park.  In as much as it’s possible to distinguish his performances this season from last, Weimann came across as industrious, physically and emotionally resilient, and unselfish, perhaps too unselfish. His departure felt like just another source of flux as our forward line redefined itself.

Next Season: Weimann’ s involvement in Villa’s side in the spring owed a lot to injuries;  it would be a surprise to see him start the new campaign as first choice.  Nonetheless, his future is clearly at the top level, and we shouldn’t expect to see him back at the Vic any time soon.

18 (#2) – Michael Kightly

Even on the strict understanding that this was only a month to gain match fitness, even after an awfully long time out with injury, the signing of Kightly was a coup.  One of Wolves’ key men in their promotion campaign three years earlier he had attracted plenty of interest from more established Premier League clubs, but a succession of injuries kept him off the pitch and moved him out of the limelight.  At Watford, even after securing his loan we got lucky.  That initial month was interrupted by injury, causing Kightly to miss four games (including the pivotal win over Peterborough). Had it not been, it’s questionable whether Wolves would have extended the loan and whether we’d have had the chance to see him play himself into devastating form.  Encouraging but bitty during his first month, his subsequent month-and-a-half were an absolute joy, culminating in memorable goals against Leeds and Doncaster at Vicarage Road. Back at Wolves, he was one of few Wolves players visibly swimming against the tide in their calamitous exit from the top flight.

Next Season:  Ståle Solbakken may be virtually new to English football (he did play half a dozen games for Joe Kinnear’s Wimbledon), but by all accounts he’s not an idiot.  Expect to see Kightly leading the charge at Molineux next season.

18 (#3) – Alex Kacaniklic

Less flamboyant than Kightly, Kacaniklic nonetheless had an indisputably positive impact on the side on his arrival from Fulham. In part his degree of impact betrays our paucity in wide attacking areas, Murray excepted… a threat on both flanks is so much more potent, so much harder to defend, than a one-sided opponent.  Tidy, assertive and occasionally frightening, it’s that “occasionally” word that’s the slight blot.  It’s not that Kacaniklic ever played badly, or even that he disappeared particularly… it’s just the suspicion that there was a little bit more that he had to give. Nonetheless, a significant benefit when we had him and a loss when, aggravatingly, he was recalled shortly after the close of the loan window.

Next Season:  (“We’ll just call you…”) Alex was given a smattering of involvement at Craven Cottage; given the activation of the recall clause, it would have been all the more irritating had he not.  Nonetheless, you’d be surprised if, with competition in wide positions from Kerim Frei amongst others, he was more than a fringe player at Craven Cottage next term.  Another loan, to a Birmingham or a Leicester, a side expected to challenge, feels a safer bet.

19- Prince Buaben

“Biscuit”, “Bobbins”, “The Prince”… a man of many nicknames and mispronounciations, Buaben was largely withheld from the side for the first couple of months of the season but involved almost continuously from then on.  His initial impact, with the Hogg/Eustace midfield struggling for an outlet, was wholly positive – his first start was that game against Peterborough, and we looked a whole lot more dangerous going forward thenceforth.   Nonetheless, the jury is probably still out on balance… neat, tidy, clever, Buaben nontheless participates in good performances rather than driving them as you hope an attacking central midfielder might and one goal from twenty-odd starts isn’t a great return.  He’s likeable though, you want him to do well;  his versatility is clearly an asset, and the team does seem to function rather better with him in it.

Next Season: With competition for a midfield slot presumably destined to increase with the return to fitness of Stephen McGinn, Buaben will need to become a little more assertive.  Flexible option to have on the bench, though.

20 (#1) – Marvin Sordell

My five year-old daughter got her first season ticket this season, a half-season effort.  Her first game of the season had had a build up;  45 minutes of a pre-season friendly was one thing, but we all know that the first “proper” game is a decisive thing.  Fortunately this was Peterborough, and the image of Rachie standing on the barrier screaming “Come on, Marvin!” as he lined up the penalty will stay etched on my memory.  So… Marvin’s departure three months later took a bit of explaining.  Wide-eyed wobbly disbelief (“So… he won’t be playing for Watford any more?”) gave way to pragmatism within thirty seconds (“I’ll just have to choose another favourite player, won’t I Daddy?”).  What Bolton will have discovered, of course, is that they have signed a striker of colossal raw ability without always having the (on-pitch) discipline that makes a player an effective part of a team.  This season he was the focal point of our attack simply because he had to be… quick, aggressive, our one reliable threat capable of finding a goal from nowhere and often picking things out for others, there’s still no escaping the fact that attackers of far less natural ability looked an awful lot more effective after he left (although the Murray factor is difficult to standardise for). Significantly also, the starkest indicator of the rebuilding job that Sean had to do, he was the final part of what was a plausible attacking four last season to be sold or move on within two transfer windows.

Next Season: Do you remember how Arsenal always looked better without Ian Wright in the side?  I’m sure Sordell wouldn’t mind the comparison or the career that Wright enjoyed; nonetheless, it’s significant that Arsenal didn’t win a League title with Wright until he was virtually on the way out and barely involved in 1997/98.  Whatever… Sordell will nonetheless score loads for Bolton next season.  Would have been more interesting to watch what would have happened had they stayed up.

20 (#2)- Marcello Trotta

Rarely can there have been as large a contrast between the clamour for a signing and the damp squib when he actually arrived.  Like an orchestral drum roll building up to a whoopee cushion.  Trotta arrived on loan following a prolific spell with Wycombe in League One.  He played an hour of the mauling by Southampton at Vicarage Road without either pulling up any trees or looking completely awful, was subbed, and that was pretty much that.  He was an unused sub for the next three fixtures during which we managed rather well without him – two wins and a good point at Upton Park – and he returned to Fulham to rather less of a fanfare than he arrived to.

Next Season: Trotta got a minute of Premier League action at the end of last season – surely the briefest top flight involvement of the campaign- but it’s safe to assume that he wasn’t altogether convincing in training at Vicarage Road.  Will need, one assumes, to do better.


1. Roger Smith - 28/05/2012

Kacaniklic: “Another loan, to a Birmingham or a Leicester, a side expected to challenge, feels a safer bet”.

Did you mean to imply that Watford won’t be expected to challenge, given how we played in the second half of the season? Even with our disastrous start, we would have been in with a shout had it not been for the number of points we simply threw away.

Teams like Birmingham and Leicester may be able to beat us on wages, if that’s the deciding factor, but both spectacularly underperformed last season. The Watford feel-good factor may also be in our favour. He owes us a great debt, giving him his first start in senior football.

Matt Rowson - 28/05/2012

No, I would expect Watford to do well but I’m not sure that will be the general perception. If Fulham loan him out again they will see a bigger club as a more attractive option, simply because they will believe he will be playing with better players.

“Would have been in with a shout had in not been for a number of points we threw away”. Well that’s true of anybody isn’t it? If we’d won more of the games that we didn’t we’d have been higher up the table? We did fabulously well to finish where we did, but if you’re arguing that our performances merited more I simply don’t agree with you. The first couple of months of the season were pretty awful, and I don’t buy the argument that we were unlucky.

As for Kacaniklic owing us a great debt, even if he sees it that way (and he may feel that he was doing us the favour) then I can’t imagine he’ll base any future decisions affecting his career purely on sentiment. If he does, he’s an idiot.

2. IainJ - 28/05/2012

Interesting thought re Sordell and the comparison with Ian Wright and performances of their respective teams. I have to say I didnt rate Sordell anywhere near as highly as a lot of fans did, yes, he does have something about him but i was left feeling frustrated more often than not. His pace and movement is good and allows him to find space, his use of the ball is often poor, regularly not striking the ball cleanly when crossing or shooting.

Roger Smith - 28/05/2012

There were times when I felt exactly the same about Ashley Young.

3. ollyparenting - 28/05/2012

Just goes to show that, whatever our side looks like as the summer progresses, it’s one or two loan signings that will probably make or break us next season. So it’s some comfort that we’ve benefitted from the loan system more than most (with a few horrors along the way) in recent seasons. Let’s hope for more of the same in 12/13.

4. Tim Turner - 29/05/2012

It’s satisfying to note that loan signings played a lesser part in Watford’s 2011/12 season than they have done for several years. In recent times, there’s usually been at least one loanee who’s been a crucial part of the team for a significant chunk of the season: Ben Foster, Adam Johnson, Jack Cork, Jordan Mutch…

This season, as Matt notes, we had a month of high-quality wing play from Kightly, maybe two months of solidity in goal from Kusczak and a few flashes of brilliance from Kacaniklic – but no one who we relied on to such a huge extent. That we finished in our highest league position for several years is a great tribute to Sean Dyche.

You could argue that a couple of good loan signings next season could push us even higher, as ollyparenting does above – but I’d prefer to see us continue to thrive with less dependence on the loan system, if possible.

Sequel - 30/05/2012

I think we’d all like to see the Watford squad composed entirely of home grown talent and astute signings. The trouble is, our ex-loanees usually speak very highly of us, and so our reputation precedes us. If Fergie gets on the blower offering Dychie his latest prospect for the season, he’d be reluctant to turn his nose up at it.

5. Steve Resco - 01/06/2012

Disagree. Kuszhckzjcvkzj, was a key driver behind our form when he joined – every game he made exceptional saves that gained us points that ordinarily would’ve been dropped.

Hence, why I’m a little bit less confident than others that we will be able to carry on the end of season form in to next year. Having said that, perhaps the momentum has built..

Joonz - 01/06/2012

Did you watch the game vs Saints at home? We didn’t get any points and the first goal was his fault. Still, don’t let facts get in the way of your point.

Matt Rowson - 01/06/2012

cheer up Joonz, fixtures out soon…

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