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End of Term Report Part 6 30/05/2015

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

22- Almen Abdi

An injury-hit second season had many of us fearing that Almen Abdi would join the likes of Nick Wright in being remembered for one glorious year before injury stole him from us.  Twelve months on those fears have receded and we look forward to the Professor performing at the level he was surely destined to.  His injury record is still a concern, as is reflected by three separate if mercifully brief spells out with injury -a shoulder and two hamstring –  that restricted him to 28 league starts, but his relatively limited gametime didn’t prevent him from playing a huge role in our promotion.  None of our wealth of midfield options offer the same combination of awareness, control, aggression, personality and composure as Almen; his relatively unsung nine goals last term included some absolute pearlers and he remains an absolute joy to watch, his name in the starting line-up a reason to approach to any game with anticipation.

Next Season:  Little doubt about his ability to make the step up, we just need him to stay fit.

23 (#1) – Lloyd Dyer

There was a version of this bit forming in my head which, whilst falling I think some way short of pillorying Lloyd Dyer was nonetheless a little more aggressive than what follows.  Troy’s recent and typically candid pronouncements on the subject prompted a bit of a mental rewrite…  given that much of whatever one writes about Dyer’s Watford career, such as it’s been, must inevitably concern his attitude off the pitch as much as his performances on it, Troy is really rather better qualified to comment than I am.  He’s better qualified in any event, thinking about it. Anyway, it’s beyond dispute that said Watford career has been a disappointment on any number of levels, “not a bad egg” or otherwise.  Recruited last summer as part of a strategy of bringing in experienced and successful British Championship players he felt like a bit of a coup, even if the length of the contract offered was transparently his motivation for joining from newly promoted Leicester.  Part of the role, therefore, was leadership and whilst there was clearly something afoot in the dressing room under Beppe earlier in the season, Dyer’s leadership was notoriously misdirected at Rotherham…  not what he was brought in for.  More fundamentally he didn’t set the left flank alight on the pitch either, and whilst left wing-back might not be his best position it’s one (along with full back) that he’s fielded before in his career.  For all that he nicked a couple of significant goals you were left feeling rather short-changed by an increasingly peevish and frustrating figure.

Next Season:  Lloyd spent the second half of the season on loan at Birmingham City; he has two years left on his Watford contract, but it’s difficult to envisage him forcing his way back into consideration.

23 (#2) – Ben Watson

See, what I thought we needed was something predominantly destructive.  A Jonathan Hogg type… someone to hare around, win the ball, lay it off simple, carry on.  Instead…  instead we got a different type of destructive.  Ben Watson was hardly an unknown quantity…  breaking through in a Crystal Palace side that we seemed to play four times a season at the time he’d then spent four and a bit seasons playing for Wigan in the top flight culminating, famously, in that Cup Final winning goal.  His low-key longevity was tacit testimony to his ability, but Cup Final goals aside his isn’t an eye-catching contribution.  So it’s only with the benefit of watching him glue our midfield together, the ultimate continuity player, “destructive” in the sense that more destructive than taking the ball off the other lot is not letting them have it in the first place.  Despite all of which, Ben has on a couple of occasions given possession away conspicuously and expensively… at home to Ipswich, and so very nearly at Brighton.  These, however, are unrepresentative aberrations borne of taking responsibility.  Overall, Watson has been the season’s unlikeliest success story.

Next Season: Ben Watson’s Watford career began at half time at home to Blackpool.  We were two down, but ended up 7-2 on top.  It would be overstating matters to claim that this was an allegory for his impact on our season… but he started every game from then on in.  With pushing 100 Prem starts already, he’s nailed on for a starting berth next season.

24- Odion Ighalo

You may disagree, but I’d argue that Odion Ighalo looked like a decent signing from the very start.  Ostensibly signed as a fourth option rather than a starter, he looked more assertive than Alex Geijo, more willing and positive than Mathias Ranégie.  What he didn’t look was particularly prolific…  I remember commenting to my co-editor during an early game that it was easy to see how at Granada he had developed a reputedly cult following despite not scoring many goals.  I was wrong, badly wrong, on one count… suggested early in the season when he scored three goals in three consecutive starts.  This was, of course, to be followed up with a particularly prolific two-month spell after Christmas in which he scored 14 goals, fired yet more vim into our forward line and propelled us towards the top two.  Ostensibly made of rubber, capable of bouncing up off the deck and ricocheting between challenges whilst staying on his feet he became yet another problem for opponents to think about and laid down a challenge to his colleagues in the forward line.  Note the player of the season, but ultimately as key as anyone.

Next Season:  He might not feature as frequently… but a positive, willing and relentless pain in the arse off the bench.


1. Martin Coupe - 31/05/2015

If we are to stay up next season, Abdi needs to stay injury free. To me it is that simple. We just don’t look the same side without him. I am not saying we are a one man team, far from it. We just seem SO much more effective when he is on the pitch with the ball at his feet. Of all the players on the books, he is the one tailor-made for the top flight.

2. Harefield Hornet - 31/05/2015

Couldn’t agree more. When he pulls on the shirt he takes us to another level.

3. Stephen Hoffman - 01/06/2015

I’m sure Dyer was not as much the Enfant terrible presented to us, but by December me and my Dad wished he had sponsored someone else’s shirt and by January were glad to have swapped to Jonathan Bond. Sadly like the booby prize my dad was given in the post Lloyd Dyer’s shirt and swiftly tried to palm I it off on me. What with Mcnamee, Sadler’s and Bromby’s shirt in my possession, whilst my Dad has Kevin Miller’s, Alex Chamberlain’s and Steve Palmer’s, I thought it was only fair he could keep Dyer’s!

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