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End of Term Report Part 3 27/05/2016

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

9- Troy Deeney

I have to confess… and it is a confession, a source of embarrassment… that I begun to have doubts at the start of the season.  Not in terms of Troy’s leadership, of his contribution to our attacking play.  But in terms of his ability to find the net… despite 20 goals in each of the previous three campaigns, this higher level, the cagier way of playing, fewer chances… and perhaps less of the ball in the opponents’ penalty area.  Troy’s not going to score too many by breaking past a high defensive line.  By the end of October he still hadn’t found the net.

Which makes his subsequent achievements all the more impressive.  He must have had doubts himself, for all that his overall contribution was still tremendous… you could see it, a slight tentativeness in front of goal that was so uncharacteristic.  But it’s as if the challenges of the Premier League were merely a temporary obstacle… they too were eventually, inevitably crushed underneath the tidal wave that is Troy Deeney.  His fifteen goals, in the end, stand comparison with the 66 in the three seasons that preceded this one, but only tell half the story.  My next-door neighbour, a Man United fan, was astonished at how much defensive work he does.  “He’s your best player on corners… in both boxes”.  And at the end of the season Troy pushed on furiously, battering through the deckchairs and suitcases that littered the Carrow Road pitch and dragging much of the team in his wake.  Difficult to overstate his importance to this team.

Next Season: As discussed on these pages, I can’t help be anxious if I look at Leicester and think “who would I sign, if I were them?”.  Needing a bigger squad, quality players, but not established enough at the top of the division to attract the biggest stars.  Solace can be gained by looking at how the Pozzos retained Antonio di Natale at Udinese, a totem for that team, despite offers from elsewhere.  Two years ago, retaining Troy was the clarion call that heralded our promotion.  Retaining him this summer would be no less significant.

10 (#1)- Matej Vydra

Our model being what it is there’s all sorts of potential for peculiar career paths but Vydra’s erratic trajectory is particularly extraordinary.  His two seasons at Vicarage Road have been successes – a blistering half-of-season under Zola which tapered off as his head was turned before igniting with a flourish against Leicester.  And a very effective role as one of the prolific three last year.  In between…  a year used sparingly and often out of position at West Brom, and then this calamity at Reading.

It seems extraordinary that at the Etihad in August there was genuine anger in the stands at Vydra’s confinement to the bench as we chased a way back into the game.  Three days later he joined Reading in a lucrative loan deal with an option to buy that very quickly disappeared from consideration.  It’s interesting that, reviewing Reading messageboards, the jury was still very much out in January.  He’d only scored a couple of goals (he’d boost his figures with 6 across the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup), but the line was “alongside a target man…”, “if not fielded on his own up front….”, “young, potential…”. By the end of the season, that goodwill had evaporated entirely with the resentment at Reading’s poor season finding a ready target.

Looking back over which, there’s a recurring theme which will be at the front of the minds of those who’ve watched him for any length of time.  Vydra’s limitations aren’t on the pitch… he’s a fine striker at Championship level, and there’s justification in wondering whether he’d serve a counterattacking side in the top flight.  His problems are largely of his own creation… his occasionally sulky demeanour betrays a lack of focus, easily distracted, easily disrupted.  The opposite of his erstwhile strike partner, in other words.

Next Season:  Vydra’s at a bit of a crossroads, one suspects.  He needs to find somewhere where he can showcase his ability again – there are many who would welcome him back, despite the last twelve months.  Probably not Reading, though.

10 (#2)- Obbi Oularé

There can be few more dramatic illustrations of how much has changed than the fact that we are able to sign a teenage striker for a reported £6 million as a “project”. A far cry from the days of Kenny Jackett or Ray Lewington’s management, when the idea of spending any money on anyone was fanciful. One for the future or not, Oularé must have been expecting a little more game time than a half against Newcastle in the cup and a couple of brief cameos in the Premier League. What little we’ve seen of him underlined his “one for the future” label… big and strong and keen with a good touch… but very very raw. Encouraging, though, that his attitude – as viewed through the prism of social media – has remained positive and focused. You want him to do well.

Next Season: One of GT’s lines was that tall players and particularly tall strikers take a bit longer to physically develop, to catch up with their height. Will be interesting to see how quickly Obbi puts himself in a position for us to be able to make a call on the value of that investment.

11- Nordin Amrabat

Nordin Amrabat’s full debut was at Forest in the FA Cup. It was a lively, spiky showing, suggesting that we’d signed a potent new weapon in our attacking armoury. A winger and a striker had been suggested as January requirements… and Nordin had seemingly been brought in to fill the latter role and provide cover and competition for the front two.

That Odion Ighalo’s form tailed off so visibly in the second half of the season without Nordin ever pressurising his starting place reveals how well that turned out. A player who has never been prolific at his previous clubs has rarely looked like a natural striker… there have been positive contributions from the bench that have brought the side some much needed directness, but almost invariably in wide positions rather than up front and it’s hard to argue that he’s built on that impressive debut showing in Nottingham. He started only once in the last two months of the season – the pre-Wembley dead rubber at Upton Park in which he was dismissed, stupidly, in the closing minutes to invalidate himself from consideration for the semi-final. Like Obbi Oularé, we’ve seen sparks of promise… unlike Oularé, Nordin was signed to do a job now. Improvement needed.

Next Season: We’ve not quite worked out how to use Nordin, and it’s difficult to see where he’d fit in the 3-5-2 formation that Walter Mazzarri reportedly favours. At this stage, prior to whatever toing and froing the summer holds, it’s difficult to see him featuring prominently.


1. Harefield Hornet - 27/05/2016

Deeney – magnificent – 4 short of his WFC 100 and closing in on Cliff Holton – and got better as the season progressed.

Vydra – would absolutely love to see him get another chance. I still don’t think there is any doubt he has the technical ability but, as you say, the rest would be down to his attitude, and luck.

2. NickB - 27/05/2016

Brilliant piece on Troy; I didn’t want him back after that incident, but to his enormous and everlasting credit, he has forced himself to be a top Premiership player through sheer strength of personality and finding out how to direct a relatively modest talent. If Vydra had his determination and intelligence, he’d be a hell of a player.
And tomorrow I’d like to see an FF hat trick, a 30 yard screamer from Pudil and a 5-4 win for Hull, secured by a 93rd minute Nuhiu own goal; not too much to ask, is it?

3. PEDantic - 28/05/2016

I waited many, many years for Watford to find a centre-forward to surpass Ross Jenkins; someone to link the attacking moves together, receive the ball at any height, pull the opposing defence out of position, set up chances for his team mates AND score his share of goals. Finally, along came Troy Deeney and, as a bonus, he has proved to be arguably the most inspirational captain we’ve ever had too. Not a lethal ‘striker’ like a Johnston, Penrice or Vydra, but a ‘worth his weight in gold’ centre-forward.

One day, hopefully later rather than sooner, we shall have to try and replace him. I wonder if we can, or if it’s even possible? Somehow I doubt it.

Matt Rowson - 28/05/2016

Agree entirely.

4. Ramsgate Horn - 29/05/2016

Deeney has now got a place in my all time Waford xi, piiping the immortal Luther with Johnston as his partner, if he leaves for Leicester as the Half glass empty side of me thinks he might we will find him almost impossible to replace. and will have to change our approach with midfielders having to take more responsibility for creating chances, Hardly anybody i can think of does as much work re assists as well as scoring himself
Vydra hope a new manager may mean a new chance for him and Angella, Amrabat theres a player in there somewhere but whether they can get him to deliver, he cost a lot of money OULARE Prob needs to be loaned out to get some game time if these other strikers arrive theyll be a lot of competition why he didnt get thrown on more as a sub remains to be seen .nothing ventured and all that.

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