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End of Term Report Part 4 24/05/2015

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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14- Juan Carlos Paredes

Juan Carlos Paredes arrived to something of a fanfare.  He’d played in the World Cup for starters, his conspicuous contributions from Ecuador’s right back slot coming at a time when our interest was merely rumoured and therefore offered him a lustre.  This lustre was enhanced by his thunderous opening-day performance in the demolition of Bolton, a game that saw him on the front foot and at full throttle.  All of which perhaps heightened expectations to a rather unreasonable level…  leaving aside the transition he was making, playing wing-back in any side can be a bit of a thankless task.  You are simultaneously expected to provide the side’s attacking width and the defensive security of a full-back and as such it’s hardly surprising that few have excelled in the role.  Marco Cassetti, for example, offered more reliable and penetrative delivery from the right, but he couldn’t cover the turf half as effectively as Paredes.  Ikechi Anya perhaps matches Paredes for pace and stamina, but not for brute strength.  And if Juan Carlos has rather too often been guilty of watching balls drift over his head to an overlapping threat… he’s hardly alone in that.  There have been games this season where Juan Carlos has looked out of place, awkward, uncomfortable.  There have been others where he has rampaged down the right flank scattering opponents in his wake, utterly unplayable.  At Middlesbrough in October we had roughly 45 minutes of each.  Incredibly quick and built like an articulated truck, Paredes’ 32 league starts were bettered only Gomes, Deeney and Tözsér.  A force for good, then,  A force, at any rate.

Next Season: Seems inconceivable that we won’t strengthen in the wing-back positions so Juan Carlos may face competition, but likely to be a regular starter.

15- Craig Cathcart

If Paredes came in to a big reception, Craig Cathcart had something of a lower profile…  from a Blackpool side that had just bombed the second half of the previous season and narrowly avoided the drop, and an underwhelming loan spell several years earlier Cathcart wasn’t a name that set pulses racing.  Word from Bloomfield Road was that here was a decent enough defender… if we could keep him fit.  Fair to say then that Craig exceeded all expectations.  An unflappable, unflashy, utterly competent centre-back who contributed a couple of special and significant goals to boot,  it’s difficult to bring to mind any weak performances… and easily forgotten that he had barely started a game before the trip to Fulham in early December, after which he was a fixture.  His contribution is best summarised by the fact that in a terrific season full of eye-catching goalscoring contributions he was in many people’s top three for player of the season.

Next Season:  Every inch a Premier League defender.

16- Sean Murray

Hard, despite oneself, for your heart not to sink when you read Sean’s name.  You want to be in my place.  Sean’s spectacular explosion into the first team under Sean Dyche had been preceded by a long, loud clarion call from the youth team but that building up and the half-season spell as the magic dust in the last pre-Pozzo side that yielded seven goals has been followed by three seasons in which for varying reasons and to varying degrees it hasn’t quite happened for Sean.  His season this time around was ended by knee surgery in January, but prior to that he’d managed one full ninety minutes.  Still hugely popular with the support, as evidenced by the rapturous response offered by an admittedly ready-to-be-rapturous crowd to his appearance in the away end at Brighton, his assessment is no different to what we wrote a year ago;  he needs to find his place.  Difference I guess is that he’s a year older (albeit still a young-looking 21) and now trying to break into a Premier League side.  Nobody who remembers those opening months will be ready to give up on Sean just yet, but he’s got a job on.

Next Season:  Get fit, get out on loan, get some games and become a star again.

17- Gabriel Tamaș

Yes, that was this season.  Over the summer of 2014 we had a number of recruitment requirements.  A goalkeeper was one.  Some Championship experience was another.  The third was probably a big brute of a centre-back, someone to beat up opposing strikers and get their head on crosses when such was the requirement.  Gabriel Tamaș came in with a colourful reputation, and his performances for the Hornets were similarly eventful.  Far from the steadying rock we were after the Romanian seemed throroughly erratic – up for a confrontation to the point of spoiling for a fight if he was great in a physical battle he was thoroughly uncomfortable being run at and brought an element of Keith Dublin’s misplaced excitability to our back line.  Thrills and spills at the wrong end of the pitch.  Nonetheless, he started every game until he was red carded for booting Huddersfield’s Harry Bunn up in the air at the end of August;  on his first start after suspension, he fell like a giraffe with it’s foot caught in a snare, twisted his knee and wasn’t seen in a yellow shirt again joining the likes of Xavier Gravelaine on the page of Watford history headed “brief but memorable”.

Next Season:  His contract cancelled in January, Tamaș is now with former European Cup winners Steaua Bucharest.

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Comments»

1. NickB - 24/05/2015

Parades really might be considered unplayable if only he could cross a ball. For a side so full of goals, the overall standard of our crossing was pretty dreadful and we’re not alone in this; probably the biggest downside in the use of wing backs generally. Be interesting to see stats on percentages of goals scored from headers to crosses from open play today vs, say, 30 years ago.

2. NickB - 24/05/2015

Meant to add that I agree Cathcart was outstanding and would have won POTS in most normal years. Considering how we’d looked a bit of a basket case in central defence pre Christmas, we finished it looking in very safe hands indeed. I’d feel pretty relaxed with Craig, Gaby and Matt as a three next season, although I guess the odds on us starting with all three are less than Evens.

3. Martin Coupe - 25/05/2015

Cathcart was an absolute rock to which the rest of the team was anchored. You’re right Matt, he was certainly in my top three for POTY and would have been without the headline-grabbing goalscoring exploits.
I recall meeting this quiet, nervous-looking kid on loan from Utd, when my daughter was mascot away at Reading. Seemed like a nice kid but played like a nice kid too – very unsure of himself and slightly out of his depth.
To say he has grown up is an understatement. Without him and the outstanding Gomes, the post-Christmas points tally would undoubtedly have been markedly lower.
If not “the first name on the team sheet” next season, certainly the first defender on the team sheet.

4. Paul - 25/05/2015

NickB agreed…The enigma of Paredes, for me plays like an excitable springer spaniel with no end product. I already have visions of Premier league midfielders exploiting the gap in behind him. The glaringly obvious formation is Anya on the right Pudil on the left, but lets see what the summer brings…and how very dare you what has Keith Dublin ever done to you?!

Matt Rowson - 25/05/2015

If it were glaringly obvious we’d have been doing it.


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