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Helping Hands 2013/2014 07/05/2014

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

This has long-since become an annual feature of course, as much out of habit as anything else.  Sometimes the table tells you precious little that you didn’t already know, or at least would have guessed.

This time however is a little different, since the table suggests a few things that are slightly surprising… as well as some that tell the story, or part of the story, of our season.

That Ikechi Anya sits some way clear at the top of the pile is case in point.  In a season where a vast number of names have appeared in our midfield and few have been regular starts for any length of time for a variety of reasons, the player that has created the most goals is the one attacking player in the squad with what Alan Hansen might at one stage have described as “genuine” pace.  The obvious outlet, the man with the speed to burst beyond a defence.  What surprised me a little was the breakdown of those assists…  true, Anya missed chunks of the early season with injury (primarily Zola’s final weeks when the wheels fell off), but nonetheless one assist (in 12+3) under Gianfranco is meagre compared to ten (in 20+4) under Beppe, a rate that far exceeds even Almen Abdi’s last term and is remarkable, even allowing for his occasional – and largely unsuccessful – forays up front.  My perception had been that Ikechi had been less effective, more restricted by the discipline required by the new manager;  these figures suggest otherwise.

Behind some predictable names, significant that Almen Abdi manages to roll up in fifth despite having scarcely featured and only occasionally being fully fit when he did.  How different our season might have turned out with the reliable genius of Abdi more dependably available.

Beyond this it’s the low numbers that are more instructive.  Albert Riera showcased quality and scored a memorable, stunning goal but didn’t provide an assist from his rather uncomfortable wing-back berth, giving a lie to the suggestion that his defensive discomfort might be compensated for by what he offers going forward.  The assist table is only a limited, one-dimensional reflection of that contribution, but does rather back up the view that Riera needs to be better employed if he stays at the Vic next season.

Marco Cassetti plummets from ten assists last time to a mere two this, reflecting his retreat to the pivotal centre of the back three in contrast to his occasional wing-back and eventual side-of-the-three-with-licence-to-roam under Gianfranco.  Surprising also, perhaps, to see only three assists next to Cristian Battocchio’s name, each of which in the last two months of the season.

Beyond that, most informative is the number of players to have made a handful of appearances only.  There will always be a few of these, of course, and nobody’s going to complain about kids getting a run out at the end of the season.  Seven players with one or fewer starts feels high though, as does 21 with single-figure starts.  Last season we shipped out half of Sean Dyche’s squad a month in, brought in a large number of loans with the expressed intent of seeing who worked and who didn’t, and still only reached 20…

Assists Apps Gls Assists vs
Anya 11 31+7 5 Bar (A), Mwl (H), MaC – FAC (A), NoF (A), LeC (A), Bar (H), Bar (H), BlR (H), ShW (A), LeU (H), DeC (A)
McGugan 8 33+4 11 Bar (A), Bar (A), HuT (A), DeC (H), LeU (A), Bou (A), ShW (A), IpT (H)
Forestieri 7 22+10 8 BiC (A), Bou (H), Bou-LC (H), BHA (A), BiC (H), Mbo (H). DoR (A)
Deeney 6 47+1 25 Bou (H), DoR (H), MaC – FAC (A), LeC (A), Mwl (A), QPR (A)
Abdi 4 9+7 2 Bou (H), Bou (H), Rdg (A), LeU (H)
Fabbrini 4 11+14 1 Bou (H), Rdg (A), ChA (H), NoC – LC (H)
Faraoni 4 31+12 4 WgA (H), HuT (A), BrC – FAC (H), LeU (H)
Pudil 4 33+9 2 DeC (H), Bpl (H), ShW (A), Mwl (A)
Tözsér 3 20 0 Bpl (H), IpT (H), IpT (H)
Murray 3 27+12 6 BrR – LC (A), DoR (H), NoF (A)
Battocchio 3 27+14 5 Bpl (H), Bpl (H), DeC (A)
Angella 3 43+2 8 WgA (A), Bur (H), ChA(A)
Acuña 2 6+6 1 BrR – LC (A), Bou – LC (H)
Merkel 2 7+4 1 BHA (H), BlR (H)
Thorne 2 8 0 LeU (A), Mwl (H)
Cassetti 2 34+5 1 Mbo (A), IpT (A)
Smith 1 3+2 0 BrC – FAC (A)
Bellerin 1 6+2 0 LeU (A)
Ranégie 1 8+2 4 ShW (A)
Doherty 0 0+1 0
Mensah 0 0+1 0
Neill 0 0+1 0
O’Nien 0 0+1 0
Jakubiak 0 1 0
Park 0 1+1 0
Diakité 0 1+5 0
Brown 0 2+1 0
Hall 0 4+2 0
Hoban 0 5+2 0
Nosworthy 0 6 0
McEachran 0 6+2 0
Riera 0 6+2 1
Belkalem 0 7+3 0
Bond 0 14+1 0
Iriney 0 14+3 0
Doyley 0 24+2 0
Ekstrand 0 37+2 0
Almunia 0 38 0

Check out the 2012-132011-12, 2010-112009-102008-09 and 2007-08 equivalents for details of what “qualifies” as an assist by my reckoning.

The annual “School Report” feature follows shortly…



1. Paul - 07/05/2014

Another chart that enhances the mystery of how Lewis McGugan failed to make the Player of the Season top 10. With 11 goals and 8 assists (second in both categories) you wonder what else he had to do to finish above a batch of players who had very average seasons (eg. Pudil, Battocchio, Cassetti, Murray). He might not be a fans’ favourite, but without his end product we would surely have had an even more torrid campaign.

Matt Rowson - 07/05/2014

McGugan outside the top 10 does seem odd, I’d not noted that. I think there’s a clear criticism of McGugan – no mystery; he disappears when the going gets tough. As failings go, that’s one that’s harder to overlook than the effect of ageing legs (Cassetti) or of a younger player’s inability to steer a game (Murray, Battocchio). Pudil… I would disagree with you there, I think he’s been terrific.

Harefield Hornet - 08/05/2014

His att

His attitude is terrific and he’s OK going forward but he can’t defend properly to stop crosses to save his life.

2. JohnF - 08/05/2014

Thanks for this Matt and your and IG’s excellent match reports. We now enter a period of sober and objective analysis and reflection and you always get the ball rolling, nothing like a few facts to inform opinion and debate. The one that stands out for me is Iriney as having achieved little, although he did give the ball away a good deal. It would be great to have the Club’s analysis from the games to give an all round view of player performance.
I agree about McGugan but he is a frustrating player and were it not for his obvious poor decision making at times, along with disappearing when things get tough, I think he might well be more appreciated. I too thought Pudil had a decent season, not least because the role of wing-back is a tough one and I still think he and Anya are our best in this position. I do think too many players and too many changes from match to match have not helped though. There seems to be no such thing as a settled Watford side these days,

Matt Rowson - 08/05/2014

Your assessment of Iriney may be accurate, but not reasonable to draw those conclusions from this table. He’s a destructive midfielder first and a continuity player second – receive, move on, keep things going. Success in either of those roles isn’t assessable from this table.

3. NickB - 09/05/2014

Hello Matt
Just out of curiosity, saw a certain Martin Rowson on a BBC documentary earlier and saw on Wiki that he was educated at OMT – could he by any chance be related?

Matt Rowson - 15/05/2014


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