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End of Term Report Part 5 24/05/2014

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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17- Fitz Hall

Twelve months on in one respect, at least, little has changed.  Last summer we reflected that whilst a reliably fit Fitz Hall was an asset – indeed, arguably, an asset worthy of a higher level – the Fitz Hall that we had unfortunately wasn’t available frequently or consistently enough to be worth a new contract.  Watford evidently came to the same conclusion, since in late November, with Hall having not been offered a contract but having trained with the club to maintain his fitness as he sought a new club in the south of England, we re-signed Hall on a one-month deal.  Easy to see why…  this monstrous bully of a defender with plenty of savvy of the English leagues was just what we needed.  Beppe Sannino came in and immediately gushed about Hall, calling him one of the most important players in the squad.  On January 31st the WO reported that Hall had signed a contract to the end of the season.  He was to start just one more game… two days later, as the Hornets beat Brighton at Vicarage Road, before an achilles injury curtailed his involvement.

Next Season:  A fit Fitz would be tremendous.  Inconceivable that we’ll be taking that gamble again though on a player who turns 34 before Christmas.

18- Daniel Pudil

The reservation I always had with Pudil was his not quite being up to the extraordinary demands of the wing-back role as Gianfranco defined it.  The stamina thing has never been an issue – Pudil might not be as ridiculously quick as Ikechi Anya but he rarely flagged despite the responsibility at either end of the pitch.  What he seemed to struggle with was positional discipline… too often in his first season he was caught out of position by an attacker exploiting the space behind him, too often he’d lunge in with a tackle that shouldn’t have been required and which he was in no position to execute cleanly.  This season however, and particularly in the more defensively disciplined approach under Beppe, Daniel has been exposed far less often.  His commitment and attitude are superb – and if you’d still rather he cut back yet further on the occasional histrionics his proclivity for gut-busting last-ditch penalty-area blocks and tackles more than compensate.  A gutsy, cast-iron trooper, then, as reflected by a worthy third-place in the WO Player of the Season poll… so whilst a lack of cover in wing-back positions, particularly on the left, had long been an area for concern it didn’t feel entirely equitable that Pudil lost his place to new-boy Riera towards the end of the campaign;  whatever the Spaniard’s ability, Pudil’s performances hadn’t demanded that.

Next Season:  Given the much-trailed recruitment of Lloyd Dyer, Pudil will face stiffer competition on the left hand side.

19- Marco Faraoni

Something of a vote-splitter this one. Another with pedigree, Faraoni grew up at Lazio and began his professional career with Inter, a respectable upbringing but one afforded perhaps undue lustre by the exotic foreign-ness of the clubs involved.  After all, the Championship is awash with players who made a dozen or so appearances for Manchester United in their younger days, and few are judged particularly harshly as a consequence.  Faraoni’s tender years are also easily overlooked – 22, the same age as Reece Brown and only a year older than the likes of Hoban and Bond he has come to a foreign country to play in a different style of football in a particularly challenging position.

Not difficult to see why there ARE reservations, mind.  Marco hasn’t tended to look terribly comfortable with the challenging wing back role, seemingly lacking an instinct as to when he should be attacking and when he should be shifting his arse to get back.  His decision making can leave something to be desired and he has a short fuse.  On the other hand… the component parts of a fabulous footballer are all there struggling to find shape and form.  When in attacking positions his delivery is sound, he is positive and assertive and not since Marlon King have we had a player capable of killing a ball stone dead with such effortless ease, irrespective of from what distance or at what angle he receives it, like a Jedi Knight toying with lobbed rocks with a flick of the finger.  One that could go one way or t’other, then…  question is really whether it’s us that gets to watch him develop.

Next Season:  Persistent rumours of a return to Italy don’t augur enormously positively.

20 (#1) – Diego Fabbrini

I liked this one, too.  That pre-season game against Granada…  Fabbrini danced and skipped and dragged the game hither and thither at will, like a chef caressing a rich sauce.  How we drooled at the prospect of the damage he might cause, even after replays betrayed that what had looked like an effortless zero-backlift top-corner screamer owed rather a lot to an unnoticed deflection.  What a weapon this guy would be, how much fun, just as soon as he got the hang of his new environment…

Ah.  My Dad still insists that Diego Fabbrini was about to rip the division to shreds.  Or rather, that he was already doing so but his genius was unappreciated by the majority.  No doubt that the waif-like Italian has ability, of course.  You don’t get a full Italian cap in a raffle, not even for a pre-season friendly.  You don’t end up playing second tier football a year or so later in the normal way either though; something clearly wasn’t quite right and given that Fabbrini spent the second half of the season not back in Serie A with Udinese but flattering to deceive with Siena in Serie B it was more than just homesickness.  From the word go Fabbrini’s ability was his and his alone, scarcely a suggestion of him blending with his teammates, of him finding away to employ that ability to surf past a marker to good effect.  His 25 appearances, borne of a hope that his appearances would blossom, that something would connect, yielded a tap-in at the Madejski Stadium.  Not good enough, not even for a “forward” rather than an out-and-out striker, particularly one hardly doing donkey-work for the cause when he wasn’t scoring goals.

Next Season: Would be a huge surprise to see him back at Vicarage Road.

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