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End of Term Report Part 2 06/06/2013

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Part 2’s candidates slightly more involved than those discused in Part 1…

5 (#2)- Neuton

…Neuton being the unfortunate exception.  The young defender managed seven starts, half a dozen of them in a burst in September since when a series of injuries, most recently a dislocated shoulder, have limited his involvement.  What we did see of him hardly lived up to our expectations, it’s fair to say.  One of the more vaunted of the new arrivals he looked comfortable in possession and his distribution was good as you’d expect, but he adopted a defensive approach of which, as a description, “cavalier” isn’t quite colourful enough.  We had signed a defender from an Italian side and expected someone mean, tough, perhaps cynical.  Instead we got a Brazilian Keith Dublin.

It’s harsh to be too critical, in fairness.  22 on his arrival, both of his brief spells in the side coincided with more difficult periods for the team and he showed evidence of toughening up and adjusting to his new environment as time went on.  Others, particularly Fernando Forestieri and Cristian Battocchio, did so more successfully but fate gave them greater opportunity to do so.

Next Season:  Time will tell whether we see Neuton again after the summer.  Whether we do or not, his brief and haphazard Watford career so far is not a reasonable basis for judgement.

6- Fitz Hall

The legendary “One Size”. Previously the notorious “One Size”, sent off twice at Vicarage Road earlier in his career (with Wigan and QPR) and a prominent figure in our volcanic play-off with Crystal Palace in 2006. He wasn’t exactly what we’d expected of the brave new world but my god he did a job when he was in the side.  His first start was a goalscoring one as part of a rejigged, rethought set-up at Huddersfield and he rarely put a foot wrong thereafter; a beast of a defender whose physical presence gave us a bullying option when gentler approaches were failing he became a key player and an easy selection when fit.

And that was the problem, and probably the key reason for him dropping back to the second tier in the first place.  In all he had four separate spells out of the side, five if you include his delayed start to the season.  His hamstrings clearly made of spaghetti… a crying shame, since but for that he’d be an absolute nailed-on starter in every game.  But then if John Barnes was 17 again we’d be trying to sign him, too.

Next Season:  We’ve done well enough out of One Size, and if there were any prospect of him overcoming his injury limitations for any length of time he’d be worth an extra year.  Based on recent evidence (this was the first time he’d managed 20 league starts for five years) there isn’t, so he isn’t.

7- Mark Yeates

Hands up who predicted that.  Well done you, liars one and all.  For all that Mark Yeates had laid on more goals than anyone else during Sean Dyche’s season, he was very much on the way out at the end of it having been all but ostracised in the second half of that campaign.  As it turned out the switch in formation to 3-5-2 this term suited him down to the ground;  his rather nomadic career thus far reflects the quandary of how and whether to employ a player who creates chances without ever looking like an entirely reliable source of chances, and whose lack of pace meant that as a winger he was never going to frighten or preoccupy opposing defences.

But as the fetcher and carrier in the central three in midfield, the conduit between Nathaniel Chalobah’s elegant conducting and Almen Abdi’s merciless threading, he suddenly looked an asset.  His lack of pace less of a problem, his willingness to make a run often a plus off the bench when others had lost that impetus.  It’s true that he featured less in the second half of the season as Cristian Battocchio was introduced as an option in the new year – and he still had the odd stinker, and he still sent the odd free kick over the bar –  but he finished the season with a far greater haul of starts, goals, assists and goodwill than can possibly have been anticipated.

Next Season:  Despite which, out of contract, it’s unlikely that we’ll see Mark Yeates back in yellow next season.  His departure, if so it transpires, is on altogether different terms to what it might have been twelve months ago.

8- Jonathan Hogg

He’s in the penalty area.  He’s in the flippin’ penalty area.  As the ball drops to Anya he’s still inside our box. And somehow, what, ten, fifteen seconds later he’s at the far post on the end of Fernando’s cross, with the presence of mind to cushion the ball back.  My word.

Not the most celebrated name in our midfield, let alone the team.  Not in the running for player of the year, not in everyone’s starting eleven.  And he still hasn’t scored a bloody goal, of course, despite running out of ways to miss half-decent chances. And yet what an asset to the side Jonathan Hogg continues to be.  Boundless energy (he’s in the penalty area…), a cool head, miserly with possession. In the same way that there will always be a place for Lloyd Doyley in any Watford squad, it’s hard to envisage a time when Jonathan Hogg isn’t a useful bloke to have around.  He still has rough edges, has the odd game where things don’t work out.  But it won’t be for the want of trying.  That’s a good thing.

Next Season:  More of the same.  Might not always be in the side.  Will always be in the squad.

9- Troy Deeney

Fundamentally, giving Troy another chance shouldn’t have been about whether we fancied him as a player or not, not really.  It’s a moral issue, and assuming his contrition, given that he was in contract, it always felt the right decision to me.  His ability probably did come into it though, and this being the case it’s hard not to be impressed with the judgement exercised by our new owners.  Since his reintroduction Troy has emerged from a player with potential to an absolutely terrifying top class centre forward.  Twelve months ago, before his trial, people were still bitching about his transfer fee from Walsall.  Not sure anyone’s complaining now.

Troy quickly became the least dispensible member of the starting eleven.  We had a lot of good players – Vydra on form was unplayable, and we struggled badly when both Abdi and Chalobah were missing from the midfield.  But the one player that you felt we couldn’t function without was Troy, whose impressive goal tally was allied with the vital role of giving our attack something to play off.  It’s a role he turned himself to with aplomb, and if the early comparisons with former Walsall teammate Tommy Mooney didn’t quite come to fruition – he’s a different type of weapon, as it turns out – Troy has become every inch the heartbeat of the side.  And, whisper it, a leader.

If there’s a disappointment it’s that his weakest performances – losing his rag against Blackburn and Leeds, disappearing at Wembley – came when the pressure was on.  But these are specks of ink on an otherwise massively impressive copybook.  Given his low baseline, Troy was player of the season for me.

Next Season:  Under contract until 2016, Troy will be leading the charge and the first name on the teamsheet.



1. Roger Smith - 06/06/2013

No argument: credit and honest criticism in equal measure.

Industrious as Hogg and Yeates were, though, when they played with Battocchio in the absence of Chalobar, we were too light in midfield, and lost out in every heading dual.

RGW - 06/06/2013

Yeah, we don’t seem to have grasped (particularly at Wembley) that head tennis is not an optimal strategy for a side that averages 4’11”. How many times did we shout “Get it down!” and “Keep it on the deck!”…?

2. viewsofthehoff - 06/06/2013

You may have a point on Yeates but absolute Tosh on Hogg. Hogg may be many things but he certainly aint lightweight when he’s be in the team he has helped provide steel doing the short of defensive midfield job Eustace used to do.

NickB - 07/06/2013

Are you reading a different article from the rest of us?
Where is there anything in the Hogg review about his being lightweight?

NickB - 07/06/2013

Hang on, it’s a reply to Roger, not Matt.
Apologies, except he’s right, as a combination that three was outmuscled and overwhelmed. Take Yeates out and replace with Abdi, Eustace or anyone unafraid of a tackle and it wouldn’t have been.

3. John Hamilton (@johnxhamilton) - 12/08/2013

Interesting to re-read Yeates’ entry after his home debut for Bradford City on Saturday. Playing on the left, cutting inside, central to a lot of the team’s creativity in a dominating 4-0 win. All you need to know is the City fans have a song for him already.

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