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Watford 4 Blackpool 0 (01/03/2014) 02/03/2014

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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1- I used to read Roy of the Rovers.  Seems odd, really, looking back…  we were doing things on the pitch in the early eighties that matched anything that the cartoon strips could throw up.  Anyway…  in retrospect, there were a limited number of storylines recycled through different guises.  A popular one was of a patchwork team, thrown together in the face of adversity.  It happened to Melchester Rovers once… they were supposed to be playing an exhibition match in an assiduously fictional Middle East state when their team bus was blown up by a terrorist bomb, killing half the squad.  Rovers rebuilt their side by botching together a combination of youth players, cast-offs and imports from other cartoon strips, eventually triumphing in the face of impossible odds.

Thing is, the reason that such a development is the stuff of a comic strip is that by and large, when a team is botched together out of odds and ends and held together with sellotape, it looks like Blackpool.  A who’s-who of players who were good once, players who were promising once, and others who have been passed around the division like members of an incomplete set in Happy Families.  Add an epic run without a win, chronic mismanagement, and you get a complete shambles devoid of spirit or shape, quite comfortably the worst side we’ve seen at the Vic in some considerable time.  There had been portents of what was to come within the first quarter hour, Troy Deeney effortlessly shrugging off attention in the area, his marker virtually wandering off and leaving him to drive narrowly wide with far more time than he realised.  On the quarter hour Kaiser Tözsér sent a monstrous, arcing corner onto Matthias Ranégie’s head, unattended at the far post; his bullet header gave us the lead.  This didn’t stop Richard Short crediting Troy Deeney, but then he’d twice welcomed Lucas Neill twice as a “loan signing” during the warm up so he’s obviously not a detail kinda guy.

2- Ranégie’s home debut was much anticipated, like a TV series plugged and trailed too far in advance.  Profiles, and word from Yeovil, had warned of a far defter instrument than the picture painted by a stern looking 6ft 5 centre-forward. Consequently his tidy control and neat lay-offs were no great surprise… but I for one hadn’t appreciated that he had the combative physical qualities that you’d hope of from a big centre-forward also.  Aggressive, powerful and extremely efficient with the ball he looks a real asset; his understanding with Deeney, monstrous again, already looks more developed than Troy has achieved with Nando and both of Ranégie’s finishes – the second a neat fooling of the rotund Gilks  following a flimsy Blackpool clearance – suggested a rich source of goals that we hadn’t perhaps anticipated.  Quite whether a Deeney/Ranégie partnership would work quite so well against a defence with the personnel and wit to defend a high line is questionable but the Swede’s presence – combined with Tözsér’s delivery – looks like a get-out-of-jail-free card at worst.  In reality as soon as Blackpool conceded the game was up; Troy scored a deflected second in between Ranégie’s two and we were an unflattering 3-0 up at the break.

3- I can cope with a huddle before kick-off, I get that.  But a huddle at the start of the second half is flimsy window-dressing…  not as if you need to re-focus after a warm up, nothing can have been said in Blackpool’s post-interval huddle that couldn’t have been aired in the dressing room at half time.  So this was purely for the benefit of the poor bastards in the away end, a far healthier number of Seasiders than the afternoon’s prospects could possibly have justified the sixteen years since our last Ronny-fuelled home win over Blackpool notwithstanding.  In fairness Blackpool did make a much better fist of it in the second half in that they resembled a limited football team rather than a bowl of blancmange that hadn’t quite set, prematurely poured onto the Vicarage Road pitch.  They made a couple of half-chances too, early in the half…  there wasn’t really any suggestion of a fightback but there was some fight, too little too late or otherwise, and in any event the prospect of a coconut shy and a cricket score were dispelled.  David Perkins was perhaps the one visitor to come out of the exercise with anything close to a balance in credit, a bleach-blond Battocchio-like whirligig in the second half fulfilling much the same disruptive role as he had done on recent visits to Oakwell before his move to the west coast.

4- But Watford’s key man in the second half, and arguably over the course of the ninety despite the goalscoring contributions of the front two, was the magnificent Kaiser Tözsér.  Too late in the day the Seasiders started closing down possession high up the pitch, pressurising as so many have done to greater effect before them and granted it’s far easier to respond to this pressure when there’s no great onus on you to get the ball forward by dint of an already comfortable scoreline.  But this was an absolute masterclass, the unflustered, undemonstrative ushering on of possession in complete indifference to apparent lack of space or options a joy to behold.  This wasn’t a perfect performance… he did overhit one pass in the second half…  but each of the right wing corners that he swung in from the corner of Rous and Rookery in the second half was preceded by a standing ovation from the 1881 and entreaties to “sign him up”.  Quite right, too.

(The game had been preceded by an aborted trip to the pub, incidentally, marginally too late to secure a table and therefore food;  instead a quick pint was followed by a voyage of discovery into Watford market.  Succour was taken at the Hungarian food stall where excited words were exchanged on the subject of Tözsér, including some animated explanation of his free-kick prowess which featured broken English, sweeping gestures with either arm to indicate two-footedness and lifting of spectacles to represent disbelief at power.  We have more to look forward to, perhaps.  The visit also featured a monstrous pile of very edible chicken, rice and peas, which will do no favours to my already ample wasteline if adopted as part of the ritual after today’s success).

5- We got a fourth, you’ll have noticed;  the best of the lot, requiring movement, teamwork and a quite bullish finish from Troy that spoke volumes for his resurgent form and thus self-belief.  Blackpool weren’t up to much but perhaps it’s a game that fell well for us after last weekend’s fiasco;  many benefitted from the space afforded them. Merkel made a second half cameo and nearly pulled off the pass of the game, a raking through ball having faked most of Blackpool’s defence with his eyes that was interrupted only on the stretch.  Murray had a combative, non-stop eighty-two minutes, Battocchio a fine second half after a patchier first during which he was nonetheless involved in the third goal.  Angella, Cassetti, splendid again.  The emerging skeleton of the new stand suggests a metaphor that’s too painfully obvious to state explicitly… but as far as it goes, we did what we needed to do, beat what was in front of us.  If we can build on this we might find ourselves more capable of tougher asks also.

And that’s one goal against in eight at home now, in case you’d lost count…

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Comments»

1. NickB - 02/03/2014

Loved the blancmange metaphor: ideally suited to Blackpool’s performance. As someone said elsewhere, shame we couldn’t have had Ince in their technical area (or Holloway).
Slight quibble with the description of Deeney’s second, though; thought he showed the most unbelievable lightness of touch, together with speed of thought and tremendously precise execution. In the tedious popular punditry jargon, I didn’t know he had that in his locker.

Robin Walters - 02/03/2014

I’ve only seen it once so far, but it looked very similar to his winner at Hull last season

2. Roger Smith - 02/03/2014

Even against weak opposition, and 3-0 up, we still fought for every ball. Having won it though, we were too slow to launch our attacks. Wing backs in acres of space were ignored, as the ball was passed round and back in midfield. Then, when it did arrive, they didn’t get their crosses in when, as well as Troy, we had a 6’5″ centre forward who can head the ball. In short, it should have been ten.

3. bringe555 - 02/03/2014

Got to credit Beppe for the five straight home wins to nil, that’s something we’ve not done in a long while.

4. stu partridge - 02/03/2014

Before Beppe took over we d lost 5 at home on the trot, the first time in however many years.
The next 8 home games we lose only once (against a team we battered and ordinarily would have beaten or at least drawn)

If he can weave his healing powers onto our suspect away form then I will be truly impressed and start getting a little excited about sneaking into the you know whats.

Quick note about The Kaizer. It was good to see him a orchestrating play a little further forward in this game. I hope that as we gain confidence in possession more and more , we will see him creating damage rather than preventing it.

5. straightnochaser - 02/03/2014

One miniscule quibble: from our Vicarage Road end vantage point I can confirm that it wasn’t in fact a “flimsy Blackpool clearance” contributing to our 3rd goal, but Ranegie himself snaking out a telescopic leg & toe-poking the ball to Battochio when Mackenzie unwisely dallied in possession.

Matt Rowson - 03/03/2014

Noted. Only realised that when I watched the highlights.

6. thanet horn - 02/03/2014

Didnt see game but a welcome win after last weeks disappointing showing against Bolton, The emergence of Ranigie has got to be good news i would normally go for Nando because of his skill Ilike nippy strikers with good control, But Matthias will provide us with more options, once Park beds in that could strengthen us further
Deens is still one of the best centre forwards in the division
Look forward to watching Toszer he sounds good. Maybe to late for this year, but as Pete Wylie once said * Youve got to hope for the best and thats the best you can hope for*
Someone old can name that tune

Wrighty - 07/03/2014

Story Of The Blues – Wah!

7. Back from Hammerau - 02/03/2014

Another miniscule quibble: It was quite an achievement for Murray to have had a combative, non-stop ninety minutes when he was substituted.

Matt Rowson - 03/03/2014

picky picky

8. franelynn - 03/03/2014

At Yeovil, Ranegie had caused me some concern as he appeared a little delicate for such a big bloke. He didn’t look as though he wanted anything to do with the physical battle. His showing on Saturday was the complete opposite and gives me a lot more hope for the rest of the season.

9. David S - 03/03/2014

I think once could argue that Murray was so full of energy that he compressed a full ninety minutes of ombative, non stop midfield play into just 81 minutes thus making Matt’s initial comment correct !

I thought young Sean was superb on Saturday, quite possibly my man of the match.


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