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Watford 0 Crystal Palace 1 (27/05/2013) 28/05/2013

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.

1. It’s really not the old Wembley, is it? True, the old Wembley smelt of sour tramp when you got up close and it felt as though it might just fall down if everyone jumped at once…but not even the stale piss of a dozen generations could hide the essential romance of the place, the sense of that-happened-over-there history. This…well, it has the moneyed sheen and efficiency of an airport departure lounge. Any idiosyncrasies have been firmly ironed out by committee, any dark corners where you might be able to scratch your name for those who follow have been illuminated by an artful downlight. All trace of this game will have been wiped clean by the time you read this.

Up in the not-cheap seats, it’s an impressive amphitheatre. Those in the top tier are so distant as to be mere specks of yellow, thousands upon thousands of animated pixels; from the lower tier, if possibly not from way up there, the pitch has none of the remoteness of the old stadium. But it’s still a great big bowl, a dysfunctional and unnatural shape for a football ground: the noise rolls around until it’s nigh-on incomprehensible; the pre-match build-up is a cheap, thrilling din of thumping trance and bellowed urgency, leaving you with the feeling that you’ve just eaten too many sweets. When the game finally kicks off, everyone just seems a bit exhausted, a bit post-coital.

2. Much comment had been made on the fact that Palace fans would be in the shade, while most Watford supporters would be basking in the sunshine all afternoon. This was indeed a very lovely thing, until it wasn’t. As a metaphor for our day, I can think of nothing more apt: the occasion appeared laid out for us right down to that small, significant detail, but three hours of squinting into blazing sunlight just left you with watery eyes and a woozy headache.

Similarly, hopes that the Wembley pitch would suit our patient, possession-focused style of play seemed to evaporate: we were the ones who found that the empty spaces sucked the life out of our legs and the energy from our attacking intentions. We just drowned in it all, Daniel Pudil going under first and others following. All of that room suddenly looked like so much rope to hang ourselves with: Palace efficiently picked us off before we got to the quick-quick part that’s supposed to follow the slow-slow, and a tight, cagey first forty-five with barely a shot to record gave way to a second in which we were frequently over-run in midfield and under dire threat at the back.

In truth, that the result was so marginal owes everything to Manuel Almunia and to the defence, particularly to the majestic Lloyd Doyley whose ability to quietly but firmly prize away the ball like a leaky marker pen from a toddler will never, ever tire. In many ways, Doyley’s story is a microcosm of the season: there were supposedly wise people who numbered his days in this brave new world; we’re a better side, and a much happier club, for taking the revolution only so far and no further. Doyley remains as indispensable as ever; he’s arguably in the form, and definitely in the position, of his career.

3. Elsewhere, though, we desperately missed our key players, the ones who can win games: Chalobah, Abdi, Deeney, Vydra, none of them really made a mark. Having replaced Vydra with Alex Geijo, who put in perhaps the best shift of his time here but to no real consequence, we delayed the introduction of Forestieri by virtue of requiring a formation change to accommodate him…and that’s a frustration, for he was the one headline act who did deliver, bright and eager and damn near tricking his way to a sensational equaliser late on.

That we came closest via the most crudely Route One move of the entire season – Almunia’s punt, Deeney’s glanced header from the penalty spot – is perhaps testimony to how badly the rest of our game fell below par. Bar occasional flashes, we were a pale imitation of the buoyant, flamboyant team which finished third and really, really ought…no, Christ, let’s not think about that. We stood around at the final whistle as if lost in a bad dream, expecting to wake and find that we hadn’t kicked off yet. Nobody knew quite what to do. We shuffled out, trudged home.

4. But we must, of course, celebrate the season. If Laurence Bassini’s antics were supposed to rub salt into the wounds, they achieved precisely the opposite: a perfectly-timed reminder of where we were twelve months ago and where we are now. It’s not merely that the club is financially stable and secure, although heaven knows that we shouldn’t take that for granted, not for a single second; it’s that there’s something to buy into, something that’s worth supporting. Something that’s still Watford, owned by people prepared to embrace it and – this is the real joy – to share it generously.

So, yes, we should raise a toast to the achievements of this year: the remarkable football and the remarkable footballers; the immensely charming manager who somehow created something coherent and frequently brilliant when someone else’s over-enthusiastic Tesco shop was delivered on his doorstep; the process of coming to understand, appreciate and trust the character of the owners and their people; the memorable moments, even the ones we missed because we’d stupidly booked a holiday in May. All of that, and more. It’s been a great year.

But we should also celebrate yesterday too, in its own way, for we took defeat with grace and humility and as much generosity as we could muster. Those are rare qualities in football. I actually like my football club.

5. But I fear a little for next season, if I can be honest. I fear for it whenever I see or hear someone proclaiming our destiny as champions; I’ve heard that before and I’ve never seen it end happily. More than anything, I fear a season of sitting in a Vicarage Road in which the only sounds are of irritation, frustration and anger, the sounds of unfulfilled and unreasonable expectation. I’ve seen essentially decent teams and good players pulled apart by that pressure. I fear that many won’t be satisfied with another season of progress and potential, when that’s precisely where the bar ought to be (re-)set. I fear that many think it’ll be easier, not harder.

And here’s the thing: we can drown those people out, if we want to. We can’t shut them up, but we can make them irrelevant. The missing piece of the jigsaw, the bit that the owners can’t provide, is an atmosphere which echoes how we feel: encouragement, excitement, enthusiasm. Enjoyment. All aboard the Zolacoaster? Well, yeah, so let’s make it sound like we’re having some fun. It’s time to do our bit. Your ideas, by all means.

6. End of Chapter One.


1. Mark P - 28/05/2013

No-one should imagine next season will be easy. The three relegated sides, despite being inept in the Not/Not look like teams that should be a force and the Leicesters, Brightons and Forests of the world will be stronger too. Still, reason for optimism.

As for yesterday, a long, long journey back to Newcastle (amazing to see the Newcastle Metro at 11.20 last night featuring a number of both Watford and Palace fanes) was as anti-climactic as the game. Both the team and the supporters were out-performed by the South Londoners. The pain of defeat numbed by the disappointment in the performance. This wasn’t a game to get angry about, no referee or opposition ant-hero to blame.

The only disappointment of a fantastically enjoyable season is that it ended with a whimper, not a bang.

2. lillian - 28/05/2013

Watford can still look to Cardiff City for the consistent route to the Prem – rather than the sensational Palace route!

3. NickB - 28/05/2013

Bravo, pitch perfect, just like Wembley (sorry).
I didn’t enjoy a second after 3pm yesterday, gruelling and ultimately shattering, but I’ll take it in order to have had Leicester.
Oddly, I am not displeased to have more Championship football to look forward to next year; I desperately want to go up as a process, but a large part of me doesn’t want to actually be there…
I agree with the above: it will be tough next year, but I’m also optimistic and also look forward to more of the same on bhappy, which is a special, unique resource that we’re very fortunate to have.
Finally, what a treasure Zola is, and what a contrast to the dreadful Holloway.

Geoff Lewis - 28/05/2013

I was disappointed you were beaten by Crystal Palace yesterday. I am a Cardiff City fan and was delighted when you beat Leicester in the play off’s. These two clubs were trying to niggle us before we gained promotion, especially Holloway and the Leicester’s goal keeper, These two clubs over the seasons have been a thorn to us , but we overcame them in the play off one year and the league cup last year.
We should have beaten Blackpool in the play off 2009/10, but it was not to be.
I was impressed by your side this season, you played some good footbal and after finishing third,you deserved to go up.
Good luck for next season.

4. putajumperon - 28/05/2013

Another brilliant write up of a somewhat disappointing afternoon (I wondered on the way home which of you would have the pleasure…)

There are many who will see yesterday as a failure however, this is a marathon not a sprint. Yesterday, it just wasn’t our day.

The get rich quick football mentality has made its mark on Wolves, Pompey, Coventry et al. and I’m very happy we’ve plotted a different course.

We still have a great club, which I am proud to support. We’ve had a great season, improved 8 places, seen very exciting football (no slight on at all Dyche), seen Doyley break into the first team (again) and come out a hero, and most importantly we are in much safer hands than last year. Things really are looking up for our little club.

Matt Rowson - 28/05/2013

We were still wondering which of us would have the honour at 11pm last night. Grateful that ig picked up the baton…

5. JohnF - 28/05/2013

Excellent assessment Ian and so true about drowning out the whingers who demand instant gratification and success. I agree that next season may well be tough but with luck we can get started at the beginning. There will be some new faces and the next step in building something fantastic and lasting. Palace came to stifle and grab a goal. Very successful but there is no real joy in this Palace side, bar Zaha. For us, we have had real joy shared with players who enjoyed playing their way and sharing that with the fans and with the most likeable manager in football.

Much to have enjoyed and much to look forward to without the fear of who will try and bankrupt our club next.

6. Hairy Bob - 28/05/2013

A brilliant piece, perfectly summing up a miserable day in the sun.

It’s nice to be going into a summer break not thinking that all our best players will be leaving. Ironic considering we don’t even really own those players.

Optimistic about next season, I just wish they’d build that bloody stand.

7. Kent Hornet - 28/05/2013

Off the pitch, I couldnt agree more re Zola. What a gentleman in all sense of the word. We are incredibly fortunate to have him and our current owners. 12 months ago we would have bitten anyones hand off to be that close to promotion.

On the pitch, that was by far the worst performance i saw this season. our one decent chance fell to FF (who came on far too late) was the last minute of extra time. A number of key players looked tired, slow, lethargic even. While i dont want to i have to give credit to Mr “Gollum” Holloway who did to us what he did to Brighton – smothered the midfiled and kept it tight at the back.

Never mind. My boys and I enjoyed our big day out and look forward to Yeovil etc next season. Old Trafford – pah, you can keep it. If we can keep most of the squad and get another midfielder to replace Chalobah and an injury free centre back i am willing to stick my neck out and say we will go up. And if we dont? Well there’s always the year after! COYH

8. Old Git - 28/05/2013

Yes, ig, what happened to Wembley? That is the first time I have been to the ‘new’ Wembley. I am so pleased to have had the nerve-tingling experience of being a Watford fan walking up the Olympic Way, towards the majestic Twin Towers, not once but twice. Or being there when Luther won the first England cap for a Golden Boy. Or scored his hat-trick against Luxembourg.
Yes, many of the sightlines of the old Wembley weren’t much cop (I had no idea that it was Nicky Wright who had scored in 1999 and no idea he had scored such a magnificent goal until I saw the TV replays) but it was a place of accumulated and sacrosanct moments in history as well as stunning visual beauty. And now it has gone, corporately swept away under a sea of blandness.
The ‘new’ Wembley is uninspired, uninspring and meaningless. It is like the Britannia Stadium writ large, an economy-size Madejski Stadium. A tubular steel and glass constuction kit, assembled by numbers without vision or imagination, it could be anywhere.

Very big and very expensive and very unimpressive.
A bit like Andy Carroll, really.

9. Dave Brew - 28/05/2013

Well written IG – thank you. We can speculate all we like about how next season will pan out but if there’s one thing that experience should teach us, our guesses will probably be wrong. Exactly a year ago we had no possible way of imagining how this year would turn out…. we didn’t even know if we would still HAVE a club to support and it was much later when we realised just how close we’d strayed to the brink.

Interesting to see just how few fans are really sad about losing yesterday, of course we WANTED to win but having failed to do so, there is a tremendous feeling of “better perhaps”. I suppose that most would prefer not to have a repeat of out last two seasons spent in the top division and feel that another season of preparation might be for the best. One comment which rang out loud and clear was that this season has been one of the most enjoyable for the real football fans, good players winning games. Perhaps we’re just being greedy: we’d like to savour another season like the last one before we have to face the ‘big boys in the playground’ .

What a season. What fun.

Dave Brew

10. JayM - 28/05/2013

I hated losing yesterday as much as I hate losing to Barnsley on a Tuesday night ie p£ssed off but I’m already thinking about dinner before I’ve left the ground That’s not how I should feel about losing the Play-Off Final.

I’ve seen us lose games where I’ve been in tears, where I’ve felt sick for the rest of the week. I see us lose the richest game in history though and the most annoying thing was the queue for trains home.

Although Wembley is technically perfect it is utterly souless. I felt like a customer rather than a fan. It felt like I was watching it on a big screen rather than actually being there.

It made me realise how much I love our ramshackle little ground. I genuinely feel sorry for fans who have to watch their team in 40,000+ seater stadia, where they lack the intimacy with the team, with the other fans, even the opposing fans.

And this is my eternal conflict – I want us to win every game and yet, enjoyment-wise, I see nothing positive about being promoted. I love going to games on a Saturday afternoon. I love going to more games than the Premier League people. I love being in a division where every team really can beat everyone else. I love the ridiculousness of it all.

11. Roger Smith - 28/05/2013

Too slow out of the blocks; too slow out of defence: everything was so measured. I feel sorry for Vydra, who works hard for the team but is no longer getting the early through ball that he thrives on. It became a war of attrition, and Holloway does attrition better than Vydra.

The only consolation is that, if we played like that in the Premiership, we’d be hard put to get any points at all – and that goes for Crystal Palace, too. Bring back the exhuberance!

12. wfcbhoy - 28/05/2013

Thanks to both of you for all your fantastic summaries/thoughts/previews throughout the season. Of all the various items available before yesterday’s game bHappy was the only one I was interested in reading and kept checking to see when it was going to appear. You have the happy knack of being able to perfectly verbalise what I am feeling or thinking (most of the time…)
I have to say I hated almost every minute of yesterday, result notwithstanding. I envy those happy souls who can ‘enjoy the game’ – that’s never been me, and the only time I relax is when we’re 4-0 up with 2 minutes to play (or 4-0 down of course…).
Enjoy the (short) off-season, and here’s to 2013/4.
COYH (or is it COYO these days?)

13. Rob - 28/05/2013

I felt deflated rather than emotionally shattered yesterday. It was a flat end to a great season. But, a Nick B alluded to, the Championship is a more interesting league to play in than the Premiership. Going up is great. Being up is much less fun. I wrote this a few years ago about the downside of going up (hope the link works) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/11/goingupwouldmakemedown

14. MarkT - 28/05/2013

IG (and MR) – thanks for all the thunks this year. As someone who rarely goes to matches your unbiased and un-myopic reporting of WFCs matches does confirm that there are real football supporters out there who are different from the nut cases on 606.

My thoughts on the build up to the game (I didnt see it, I dont have Sky and I didnt have access to the radio) I tried to count the number of times they made snide references to the number of loanees..only outscored by the ‘richest game’ tag.
Did anyone find it odd that the best player was someone who was on loan?
Kevin Phillips to score…who’d have thought?

Ian Grant - 28/05/2013

Thanks, Mark. I have to say that Phillips, who I’ve always liked, went up further in my estimations yesterday. I really don’t like the idea that ex-players should be duty-bound not to celebrate against former clubs; it’s a nice touch sometimes but it should hardly obligatory in the heat of battle. Nevertheless, to have the presence of mind to turn straight around and run back towards the halfway line after ruthlessly and nervelessly converting that penalty, to take the inevitable celebrations away from the Watford end, was a really classy thing to do.

15. Jon Salisbury - 28/05/2013

I got pissed on by someone at the Cup Final adding insult to Andy Gray’s injury. Luckily I got to sit next to him at the England/Scotland game that Gazza scored his famous goal and accused him of cheating!

16. hornetboy84 - 28/05/2013

Well said. I have “got over it ” very quickly – probably because in the game context we didn’t turn up. Outplayed by zaha , out fought everywhere and out thought by holloway. Our crime was to try and adjust to them rather than seek to just grab the game an do it our way.
And bas has reminded me of how bad this season could have been and how great it really has been.

IF we go up next year this will be a blessing. Zola will stay for a year in premiership. 3 years of him will give a firm playing side base to add to off the field stability.

I too fear the expectation – it is the first since Adys 3rd year but I think we can handle that. We just have to work on making it more fun. New songs will help and there are lots of horns been sold .. Oh – maybe not a good thing.
What will also help will be when we get to Xmas and Palace are on 4 points still.

Someone asked how I felt today and I said that in a way I’m looking forward to having Yeovil away first game rather than man U at home. We should be at least challenging again and that’s what’s fun . Plus we will probably have a new set of players we need to learn to love all over again .

And the championship starts something like 3 weeks before the premiership – so not long to go now.

Bring it on!

17. Geoff - 28/05/2013

Great article and thanks to you both for all the coverage again this season; top work and often (as here) hitting right on the bullseye of how we all feel. Two small points though;

* your point is expectation is well taken. Our fans were as flat as the team yesterday compared with the Thornton Heath mob. Not good enough and we need to look at ourselves and improve…..I love our family and friendly image as much as the next person but there are times a team needs it’s fans to dig deep and this was one of them. There will be others next year and we must do better.

*Geijo; the fact that this might have been his best shift says a lot. Fessi should have been on earlier and we clearly improved when he did; it was a mistake plain and simple not to bring him on earlier.

But overall with 24 hours hinesight, and you look back 12 months, be happy Hornets. This season has been magical at times, our time will come and it will not be too long away; let’s all play our part. These owners deserve it……….they are truly a blessing to be thankful for.

18. Leeso - 28/05/2013

Well reported as usual Ian. A fair reflection on a disappointing afternoon based on what had preceeded it. Unfortunately we seemed to have no answer to Holloways master stroke to make the midfield area busier than the m25 on a Friday evening, and ironically but not surprisingly, the opposition loanee proved to be difference between the two sides.

I agree with your comment about Wembley being a largely soulless and obviously commercially focused stadium (£2 for a glass of tap water anyone?) but thought the acoustics were great when the Palace fans in the lower tier started bouncing. Looking back to two weeks ago at the Vic, the change in atmosphere when people are allowed to stand is remarkable, and the sooner safe standing is introduced, the more likely the atmosphere at home games will improve. The demographic of the fan base yesterday was as would be expected from our beloved club, but even the roudiest Family Terrace chant of “Watford, Watford” would have struggled to be heard over the orchestrated chanting of the jumping masses down the other end.

One last thing that gives me hope for next year is the post match spontaneous tweeting of affection for the club from the current crop of “loanees.” In my simple mind, all players are effectively on loan at a club (unless you are the immensely loyal Lloydinho) and we are the only constants. But in the aftermath of Textgate yesterday, we can only be grateful for everything we have had this year, the quality and passion of players the Pozzos have bestowed upon us, and trust that in whatever form it takes, the Zolacoaster will be equally exciting next year. I’m on board!

19. Sequel - 28/05/2013

There’s not a lot I can add to this thread, except to say my own thanks to IG and MR for another fantastic season of reporting which has always hit the spot, rather like picking over a game with a matchday friend who you’ve sat next to for 10 years, seemingly on the same wavelength when dissecting the game.
Take a well-earned break, lads!

Ian Grant - 29/05/2013

Thanks very much. No well-earned break for us just yet: we’re both writing pieces for the next “Tales from the Vicarage” book, due out in August…

20. AndyD73 - 28/05/2013

I was disappointed less by the result than the missed opportunity to demonstrate our classy football to the watching millions. The most surprising thing in the game for me was Abdi’s abject display, the least being Cassetti (or Pudil) to concede a pen to Zaha.

Given the owners recently restated intention to grow Watford FC into a force over a long period, it’s not clear-cut whether winning would have been for the best. The Pozzos will now have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment by giving GFZ the backing to retain the key loanees on permanent deals, add a sprinkling of fresh talent from the stable and, crucially, recruit some quality English League experience to the squad.

England’s second tier has proved itself tougher than Italy’s and Spain’s and, as it has been our home for most of the last 25 years, I’ve taken some perverse pleasure in it’s resistance.

Getting automatic promotion will probably not be straightforward, but if loftier ambitions are to be realised, it must be the absolute target for everyone at the club next season. As you wrote IG, us fans have our part to play with more vocal support and positive energy. This time feels special at our club and I think increasing our fans will realise it and enjoy the ride more vociferously!

21. Paul - 28/05/2013

Erudite football critique, touched by Meadesian wit and the lyricism of Moz, truly thankful for this balm to soothe a forgettable ninety minutes in an unforgiving sun. More of the same please.

NickB - 29/05/2013

Only here would the great Jonathan Meades get a namecheck…

22. Mattp - 28/05/2013

Perfectly summing up a stadium now as well as the match..! it may be big but it is utterly soulless ..it seems I am not alone in not being as upset as I usually am when we lose. For all the money promotion brings rarely do clubs end up better off and I for one prefer the feeling of being amongst real football, real grounds and fans..for now at least. It’s been a wonderful season thanks to Zola and the pozzo’s and bhappy’s great observations which deserve full credit – well done Matt and IG and thanks

23. Lesley-Anne - 28/05/2013

Although not feeling as devastated as I did after the Leeds match, I am avoiding all mention on television of the final, leaving the room when they begin to talk about it and have vowed not to watch Sky Sports News all week! The BHappy thunks is the one and only report/review of the match I have read.

I have to disagree with some of the comments about Wembley Stadium, this was my 2nd visit but the first to a football game, and I think it is an amazing stadium! Even walking along Wembley Way from the station and seeing that arch is very special. Personally I like it better than the Twin Towers but my mum, who was born in Wembley, does not agree!

Perhaps the less said about the match the better; I do think that if it was any other game Vydra would never have started, having not been able to train all week. We really needed him to be on top form and a half fit Vydra was never going to be enough. I don’t think Palace played particularly well either, though they were better than us; it certainly wasn’t a great advert for Championship football! It is hard to see how they will be successful in the Premier League; prior to their win at Brighton they had spent the best part of 2 months in relegation form!

I also fear for next season for us. It certainly won’t be easy. I think we’ll be one of the teams that are there or thereabouts but next season we will have the pressure of expectation; no one will be predicting relegation for us this time around. I hope we keep all the loan players who’ve been first team regulars most of the season, and we need to get someone to replace Chalobah. But hopefully it will be another enjoyable season and when ver we feel like moaning we just need to thank our lucky stars that Laurence Bassini is not still in charge!!!!

24. Vaughn Smith - 29/05/2013

Very poor from both teams, but in common with lots of people I’m not overly bothered by the result – much more the performance and the fact that half of Club Wembley was empty despite the scum that is Ticket Master swearing blind on several occasions that it was totally sold out, and there was no chance of buying tickets for it. Also, what the hell was the excuse for printing plain tickets weeks before the final and just having Leicester/Watford printed on them? A small point I know, but in years gone by tickets for Wembley finals were bespoke, ornate and specific to the teams and occasion – a memento of the day win, lose or draw. Just another symptom of the football authorities’ view that football supporters are just gullible filth who are there to be exploited and robbed.

25. Lloyd Arkill - 29/05/2013

While I agree with comments re the soulless nature of modern stadia, at this time even thoughts of more trips to Oakwell, Turf Moor, the Valley etc can’t lift my mood. I don’t care what the league table says, we were the best team in the division by a mile and, if there was any justice, would have gone up. For Christ’s sake, we should have been awarded a Premier League place for Battochio’s goal against Huddersfield alone. It’ll be a few more days at least before I can start to get excited about a visit to Yeovil. When does the fixture list come out?

26. Lanterne Rouge - 29/05/2013

so so right about the new Wembley – it could be anywhere.; That may be the spot of land where Puskas starred in that 5-3 win but it’s not really the same place

27. Rob Payne - 29/05/2013

Great points as always, and thanks for another season providing somewhere I can turn to find a voice of reason. I have struggled a lot this season with trying to understand how our new direction fits into , “The Watford Way,” but while I still have issues and concerns, I have very much enjoyed the last few months, and seeing Wembley Way full of yellow shirts will always bring a lump to the throat.
We were talking in the pub about our fears of high expectations, and were trying to predict if the first booos at 90mins after a home draw would come in September or October. the way people were talking on the train however it could be August! I certainly hope not, I will always be of the belief that GT was spot on when he said a top ten championship finish, and therefore top 30 in he country, is where we should be aiming, and I will always be happy with that.

One point I hope was not lost on Zola and the Pozzos, was that our best outfield player by a country mile on Monday was Doyley, a home-grown talent. For all Cassetti’s class, grace and experience, Doyley showed that he is the best one on one defender outside of the Premiership, and he is one of our own. While new signings are exciting, I will be very sad if Murray, Thompson, Hodson, aren’t given more of a chance next year. I’m certain we will be seeing more of Hoban, who was the only youngster that got anything like a run in the side this term, but I hope that we don’t all get so obsessed with bringing players in, when with some patience, we could easily have players here already that could do the job.

28. Old Git - 29/05/2013

The new Wembley could even be in Qatar which, as we all know, is the perfect choice for hosting a World Cup competition and was selected for all the right reasons, with concepts of honesty and integrity uppermost in the voting process.

29. Dorridgehrnt - 29/05/2013

The two disappointing things about the final were the lack of sexy football and the poor performance by the Watford fans. This was the third time I’ve been to Wembley with Watford and spookily enough we had the same end in ’84 and the team failed to really turn up then, albeit against better opposition! However we made a hell of a din. Probably because we were standing and most of the chanting leaders were in one area to get everyone going. On Monday the stewards made us sit down, which they didn’t do down the other end, we were drained of energy by the lovely sunshine and there were too many ‘plastic’ fans amongst us who were just there for the day out and had no passion! We made more noise away at Leicester with 2000 of us!
As for next season. If we can keep the nucleus of the side we will have a good chance. No pressure for promotion but if we can replicate the style of play we have done on occasions this season we will turn over teams!
Looking forward to the start of the season and more ‘thunks’!

30. Richard S - 29/05/2013

Has taken me 48 hours, but I’ve now re-connected with what a remarkable season we have just enjoyed. Helped along by the reassuring stories emerging about the meeting of the Pozzo clubs in London on Tuesday.

Was always a little apprehensive about meeting Palace in the final. For all his tendency to engage mouth before brain, Holloway is a shrewd operator at Championship level – I’m sure Brighton would have suited both players and fans so much better. And on the subject of Holloway, who on here could dispute at least the sentiment of his rant against the impact of the Bosman ruling, recently re-posted to the BBC web site


And thanks Matt and IG for another season of great Thunks and comment. The only place I know of to get a nuanced but still passionate view on events at the Vic. Summer well!

31. Harefield Hornet - 30/05/2013

Despite Ian Holloway’s earlier rants this season you have to give him enormous credit for the way he prepared his side for this match, both tactically and mentally. The one issue that’s still puzzling the hell out me is why no Nando for Matej in the 2nd half? – Despite Geijo’s obvious talents, albeit so far unfulfilled in a yellow shirt due to circumstances beyond his control, why put him on instead of a guy who’s become more influential as the season has progressed? – I still honestly feel his earlier inclusion would have influenced the outcome in normal time. Can any late posters like me give me an explanation? – The only other gripe I’ve got is that Jedinak should have walked for the elbow on Chalobah – Oh and the beer at Wembley is shite! – COYH.

32. mikepeter - 30/05/2013
Ian Grant - 30/05/2013

You’ll have to supply the dimensions of our pitch before I offer any contrition. But I did wonder while writing all of that guff whether The Pitch Thing was based on actual fact, pre-rebuild fact or total myth…

Harefield Hornet - 30/05/2013

Its more or less the same size as Vicarage Road – Give or take a yard in the width!

Ian Grant - 30/05/2013

No, no, NO. I won’t have it. If you lot are going to be pedantic about my waffle, “give or take” will not suffice. Measurements, please.

33. Harefield Hornet - 30/05/2013

Vicarage Road 115 X 75 Yards.
Wembley 115 X 75 Yards.

34. peter10531089 - 31/05/2013

Great article Ian, it perfectly caught the feeling of Wembley both as a venue and a cold mechanical experience.

I’m proud of our team and the innovative manner in which the club is being run which still has enough sound judgement and compassion to give Troy Deeney another chance and allows a manager with charm and warmth to build a team from what was presented to him in short order. I have questioned some of Zola’s in game decisions this year, but his players have wanted to play for him and for us and the connection to the fansfrom the players had gone beyond anything I have experienced – something the daily mail have chosen to ignoe in their pursuit of an easy headline.

My one concern is not who comes in and out of the squad but out fitness levels on Monday and often in the season we have been outworked and players who have been rotated seem jaded when the opposition is full of running. If we could raise our fitness levels alongside our technical play then next season could be something to savour even more than this season just gone.

Afterthought – Matej and Nando were supposedly not fit – neither apparently would have appeared had it been a regular game – after two weeks why?

Ian Grant - 31/05/2013

Thanks, Peter. I think you’ve answered your own point, really: most of those players didn’t have a proper pre-season, certainly not with us, so hardly surprising if fitness levels failed us as the season came to an end.

35. Season Preview Part 2 | BHaPPY (not BSaD) - 04/08/2015

[…] 0-1 […]

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