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Watford 2 Sunderland 2 (15/05/2016) 16/05/2016

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
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1- In the end, there’s not an awful lot left to say. This final day – but for Spurs’ hilarious ineptitude in Newcastle – was a dead rubber all round, and at Vicarage Road no less than anywhere. The club had even taken the step of confirming what we had kinda known was coming by making the end-of-season announcement as if this fixture had been forgotten about, someone left in the pub as it was locked up and shut down since everyone had forgotten that it had gone to use the loo. It was clearly the right thing to do, providing the platform for a noisy send-off rather than, as might have transpired, a bitter end-of-season catastrophe to add to the growing catalogue of the Pozzo era… but either way, Sunderland had done their thing and were similarly inconvenienced to the extent that they made nine changes and afforded two debuts. The Hornets’ line-up contained few surprises, prompting a brief cheer from ig who argued that anything other than the bloody-minded defiance that has characterised the end of Flores’ spell in charge would be wholly unfitting. Cathcart at right-back again? Of course he is.

2- It’s a good job that the result didn’t matter, since what was on offer wouldn’t have offered a great deal to be optimistic about. For all that we started bright and lively and showed positive intent throughout, we were held by the second string of a Sunderland side who have just escaped from relegation and who had two  “goals” disallowed for narrow-looking (pre-MotD) offside calls. Yes, we should have won the game anyway but for careless finishing, but for all that Flores has persisted in setting up his side to be “solid” the last few performances have been anything but. Here, the slipping and sliding that had peppered the early “action” in front of the Rookery reached its apex as a calamity of errors let Rodwell in to open the scoring. The visitors looked bright but limited and should probably have had four goals. It was an end-of-season non-event and in the context of such fixtures it didn’t stand out – in many respects it was seguing into the pre-season friendly amble around at times. Viewing the on-pitch fare, instead, in the context of the last few months paints it in a very different light. It’s odd… at the start of the season being glad that the thing would be over was one possible eventuality. But not like this.

3- Worth adding, as a brief aside, that I’m perfectly happy with Kevin Friend being assigned games that don’t matter, since whilst all referees can provoke the anger of the crowd either through mistakes or perceived mistakes, Friend’s tendency to respond to such occasions with a “ha, you’re not getting to me” smile is rather trying and would be all the more irritating if his influence had any consequence. In fairness, he’s got a few thousand idiots – me included – bellowing at him so chastising him for smiling is a bit harsh, I speak purely from the point of view of self-preservation…. my head is likely to explode if he does it in front of the Rookery again. This was the latest in an extensive series of provocative visits to the Vic from Friend, whose dismissal of John Eustace in the play-offs eight years ago – later rescinded on appeal – was typical of what we’ve had to endure since.

4- Which isn’t to say that the afternoon wasn’t enjoyable. As at Norwich there was plenty to take pleasure in… the arrival of summer, the bright positive stuff that we tried to play for the most part. Troy – again – following an errant warm-up shot into the Rookery to console the child who had the misfortune to halt its progress. Tottenham – have I mentioned that? Sunderland’s excellent supporters singing “Leicester, we’re coming for you”… rehearsed and probably not novel but worth a chuckle anyway. Several Watford players putting in performances that captured their seasons like a highlights reel… Paredes thundering down the flank before dropping a cross into Pickford’s arms, Jurado prompting gasps with his adroit, clever footwork without generating an awful lot (although in fairness his boldness did at least yield a shot or two on target and draw a penalty), Guedioura surging enthusiastically past opponents before losing control, or clumping a volley into the Rookery. Seb Prödl’s goal was just great, exactly the sort of goal that a centre-back built like a brick outhouse ought to be scoring. And young Sunderland sub Honeyman one minute being bullied off the ball in a grossly unfair confrontation with Troy, the next hacking the ball into the stand in terror in the mistaken expectation that his adversary was closing in…

5- …and, of course, the send-off. Which was a fine, noisy, emotional thing. The wider response to Flores’ departure has been predictably banal and incurious, revealing a depressing proportion of media commentary to be little more than pub-bore monologue… I’ve got a Wednesday-supporting mate who craves the media attention for his side that promotion might bring but he’s in for a shock if he expects “analysis” beyond a groupthink consensus. For all that, there’s been a surprising degree of acceptance and support for the decision from the people who’ve been watching this stuff. If not consensus then a majority view that Quique did great, but that his departure feels like the right thing – whether or not the wider world chooses to even inquire about it. In this spirit there was genuine bonhomie in the prolonged goodbye.

6- And so the season ends on the week of, for me, a personal highlight. Explaining the managerial machinations to daughters 1 and 2 I reported that Mazzarri had been rumoured to be Quique’s replacement. “And he used to manage Napoli, some of our players used to play for him there”.

“Yes, like Miguel Britos,” says daughter 2 (aged 6).

My work here is done. Have a good summer.

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Comments»

1. straightnochaser - 16/05/2016

Thanks once again for your measured and always interesting angle on things. Reading your & ig’s thunks is one of the richest pleasures of being a Watford fan. And speaking as one more of the thousand idiots chastising Kevin Friend may I also record that he was also responsible for disallowing a Shittu goal in that play-off game because one or more of Hull’s defenders were ‘fouling’ their keeper as Danny thumped his towering header home. As for thunk 6, if my experience is anything to go by it’s just possible that in her twenties your daughter will be correcting you on such details. Then again Matt, probably not you!

2. Harefield Hornet - 16/05/2016

Excellent summing up of events as always.

2 things that cheered me up yesterday.

1. MOTD pundit to other MOTD pundit – “I don’t know one Watford fan who wants Flores to leave” “What do you think Alan? “Just barmy” – Question – does Danny Murphy actually know any?

2. The prematurely adapted Valon Berahmi song being sung by my nine year old . “Walter Mazzarri etc” – “he’s coming to Watford in his Ferrari” etc

have a good summer!

Matt Rowson - 16/05/2016

Danny Murphy is magnificent. It’s absolutely clear that he puts no thought or research into anything he says.

NickB - 16/05/2016

Regarding Shearer’s prototypically banal comment, it’s the combination of stentorian tone and ‘just back from the pub and up for a bit of menace’ facial expression that really makes me want to put my fist through the telly. Good to see that Murphy could sum up one of our games without saying “fifteen new signings”, though.

3. peter - 16/05/2016

A fabulous season by yourself and IG. Like many, reading your post match comments makes me smile regardless of the result – the very opposite of Danny Murphy in fact.

Loved the fact that as you mentioned we were able to appreciate a job well done with QSF whilst appreciating the parting of the ways was right.

I thought this was acknowledged well by the 1881 banners at either end of both QSF who we thank and Gino who we thank and trust in making the next steps.

Loved that SEJ was present too.

Thank you gents have a great closed season

4. Harefield Hornet - 16/05/2016

BTW – I didn’t realise until looking at some stats last night that Troy is only 9 goals short of replacing Cliff Holton as the 4th all time top goal-scorer. Currently on 96 I believe – it would be a crying shame if he doesn’t make it!

5. JohnF - 16/05/2016

Thanks to both you and IG for the work you put into BHappy and thanks for sharing your daughters’ enthusiasm and the wisdom that only children have. I’m hoping it will not be long before my grandson can come and hope that he will be as enthusiastic. BHappy is one of the consolations of being a Watford fan so also thanks to all those who comment.

Yes I had a chuckle at the knowledgeable Murphy who is clearly overpaid however much he receives. The game yesterday showed why the time had come. We have much to be grateful to QSF for and I am sad it hasn’t worked out, as his personality is a good fit with Watford.However, the latter part of this season has shown that new impetus will be needed next season if we are have any chance of becoming established. I hope Troy doesn’t go but if that is his decision then he has earned the right to decide for himself and he doesn’t owe us anything.

Have a great summer and then onward and upward for a new season and maybe we will even win a cup semi-final one day.

6. 'Arrow 'Orn - 16/05/2016

A long time reader of this excellent blog. I always look forward to reading on a Monday morning your post-game analysis. As ever, you seem to have encapsulated what my subconscious was thinking but what my conscious has not been able to articulate.

Possibly a word on Abdi yesterday? Thought he had his best game for a long time, seemingly with some of the defensive shackles freed. A lot of our attacking intent came through him, and perhaps pointed to the fact that had he been allowed to play the “Jurado” role on occasion this season, we might have seen some more end product from our midfield.

7. Simon - 16/05/2016

Matt, will you be doing an End of Term Report this season?

Matt Rowson - 16/05/2016

That’s the plan

8. Stuart Campbell - 16/05/2016

Reading this week’s comments has led to my dithery old brain indulging in involuntary word association with the name Danny Murphy leading instantly to an image of Mr Potato Head. Except that’s a touch unfair on Mr PH who probably has more footballing acumen and is certainly lots more entertaining.

9. Martin Coupe - 18/05/2016

As ever, tremendous season from you both. Keep up the good work chaps, it is enormously appreciated in deepest darkest Gloucestershire!


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