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End of Term Report Part 2 18/05/2015

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

5 (#2)- Adlène Guedioura

An oft overlooked feature of John Barnes’ fabulous ability was that he was a bully as well as a terrific footballer.  Not just able to beat people with skill, but with brawn instead should the need arise.  Guedioura isn’t in the same class as Barnes…  but he offers the same combination of weapons, a fine footballer(witness his marvellous assists against Derby, Boro and Wigan) but a beast and an athlete too.  It’s a potent mix, and one of which Slav quickly recognised the value in a Watford midfield in which the former is a prerequisite but lacking the latter.  A moderate success in a first spell crowned with a monstrous display at Cardiff; his second spell saw him establish himself as a vital component of the side that secured promotion to the extent that it’s perfectly credible to add his unavailability to the list of stuff wot done for us against Sheffield Wednesday.

Next Season:  Guedioura joined Palace as part of Ian Holloway’s scattergun recruitment policy in the summer of 2013.  He has since started three times as many games for us as he has for the Eagles;  his arrival on a permanent basis would be a huge boost over the summer.

6 – Joel Ekstrand

A difficult season for Joel who has had long spells out, first with a lower back injury and then the cruciate ligament damage sustained against Ipswich in March.  Significant that excluding those spells of enforced absence – and two briefer absences caused by suspension and a hamstring injury – Ekstrand started every league game for which he was available bar one, the draw at Ewood Park in which he came off the bench.  When he was available he did well, particularly in the first half of the season and particularly when part of a back 4 when he was arguably the pick of our centre-backs suggesting that the wobbly form and mentality of his difficult second season had been left behind him.  Not an extravagant player, not a star, but a very confident tick next to whichever box at the back you slot him into.

Next Season: ….but not for a while, alas.  Prognosis is that we won’t see Ekstrand again this side of the New Year, and whilst his mobility and comfort in possession both ought to lend themselves to the Premier League, previous top flight seasons have suggested that players injured at the wrong time don’t always get the chance to play themselves back into the side.  Fingers crossed that Joel, an automatic pick for the best part of three seasons now, bucks that trend.

7- Miguel Layún

A midfielder or wing-back with, famously, more Twitter followers than Tottenham Hotspur, it’s fair to say that we haven’t consistently seen the best of Miguel Layún just yet.  That’s not a problem in itself – we’ve had the luxury of ample midfield options, and should be grateful for the facility to allow a player of undoubted quality time to settle in after a major transition – and it’s not to say that he’s played badly.  But he’s not yet the unqualified success that we’d hoped… or consistently made the devastating contribution suggested by first couple of home games against admittedly overrun Charlton and Blackpool.  Nimble, clever and versatile, Layún has occasionally seemed to expect too much time in possession and looked lightweight and bullyable in the hurlyburliest of our encounters.  Nonetheless, his assertive outing against a physically robust Sheffield Wednesday side on the final day – critically misjudged pass aside – offered much encouragement.  More to come from Miguel, one suspects.

Next Season:  Layún has quality and senior experience;  he was bold enough to take a risky decision in moving from a top club in Mexico to the English second tier in defiance of criticism from his national coach, and comes across extremely positively.  Jury still out, but looking on expectantly…

8- Dániel Tözsér

It’s a measure of both Dániel’s ability and the strength of our midfield options to point out that as recently as the first half of the campaign it would seem inconceivable that he should be anything other than an automatic pick in the centre of midfield… and yet as the season drew to a close it was the Hungarian who was most regularly the odd man out, not starting more than two consecutive games from the end of January onwards.  It wasn’t just the competition provided by the favoured three of Watson, Guedioura and Abdi either…  Tözsér’s form did dip, and more than once – memorably against Wolves on Boxing Day – he was identified as the man to close down in possession particularly aggressively, the man who would both make us tick if left unchecked but also perhaps want half a second too long with the ball at his feet.  Nonetheless, Dániel’s ability to suck the ball to his control, to dictate the pace of a game and, on his best days, to trample all over a game like a colossus, was still evident.  He may not always have started, but he almost always played a part whether we needed to slow things down or make a breakthrough in the latter stages… only once did he fail to take the field in a League encounter.

Next Season:  In helping kill games by retaining possession he has been the Dementor of our midfield, sucking hope and belief from opponents around him, and his free kicks remain a thing of beauty.  Halfway through his two-year loan from struggling Parma, it will be a joy to see him in the Premier League.


1. simmos - 18/05/2015

There seems to have been a campaign of criticism among some of the supporters against Joel Ekstrand which has been completely unjustified. Thank you Matt for going some way to redress the balance and I wish him not only a speedy recovery but a hope that he can be an integral part of the squad next season again and force himself back into the starting eleven once fit.

James - 18/05/2015

Ekstrand has improved enormously during his time at Watford, but it’s difficult to see how he could force his way back in if Cathcart, Angella, Hoban and Connolly maintain the form they showed in the second half of the season. Especially so if we stick with 4-4-2.
Still, he’ll give us some extra cover at centre-half.

simmos - 19/05/2015

Matt has certainly said in the past that Angella has a mistake in him and I think all of our current defenders do. Cathcart was the least culpable last season (I never thought I would be saying that at the time he was signed) and so should be first choice but I don’t see much between the other three and Ekstrand. Most of the managers over the past three seasons seem to have chosen him ahead of others but I think the key to Ekstrand’s return to the starting eleven will be who we sign this summer rather than who we have at the moment.

2. Goldenboy60 - 18/05/2015

I totally agree guys. Joel has that little bit of class but for me needs to add some urgency on the ball without losing his composure. People have suggested to me that he is a little ‘soft’ mentally, but he is still a very good player and has contributed very well over the last 3 seasons. At the end of the season we were very well blessed with Cathcart who has been outstanding, Angella, and subsequently Connolly, who really did step up to the plate. Not many had 4 centre half’s of that quality.

With regards to Geudioura, for me he added the bite, determination, and athleticism to our midfield. Mentally he is as tough as they come and absolutely dedicated. His grit and determination at Wigan was massive. Sorely missed in the last game, I believe we would have won the Championship with him in the side. If only we had delayed a day before getting him back on loan! Small details make massive differences.

Vaughn Smith - 19/05/2015

Have to agree – Geudiora was immense during his second spell, but the turning point for him (and for my perspective on the whole campaign) came with that booming tackle in midfield at Reading that started the move for Abdi to score the winner. From that second on he was an irresistible force in our midfield, and it was probably my ‘moment of the season’.

3. Lincoln Hornet - 20/05/2015

Another moment of the season which has had too many to mention must be his sublime pass to Ighalo at Derby which gave us an unlikely point. Absolute class!

Matt Rowson - 20/05/2015

it’s mentioned in the article… 🙂

4. putajumperon - 21/05/2015

Two of these players are a must for our next campaign. One we are yet to sign.

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