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End of Term Report Part 6 15/06/2017

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

25 – José Holebas

You know how it is. Think about that mate of yours, the one with the really annoying habit. The one how talks too much, or who’s a bit too opinionated. If they weren’t your mate you’d be far less tolerant; if they were just someone you wandered past in a shopping centre, or on the bus, they’d piss you off but because they’re your mate you know the good stuff too. You know that they’re fundamentally sound, their flaws become quirks that you accommodate.

A year ago, José Holebas wasn’t one of the good guys. His first season in England had seen him competing with and often losing out to Nathan Aké in the left back role and publicly venting his frustrations on social media. Now, after a season as undisputed left back punctuated by frequent explosions of frustration and bloody-minded determination, you look on that first campaign in a different light. One of the most reliable members of the team, if his discipline was a blemish you can at least cling to the fact that the bookings for dissent were much less frequent in the second half of the campaign. Being booked for a good hack feels more honest, somehow.

Next Season: So José’s now one of the good guys, but he turns 33 in a couple of weeks’ time. A full-back – let alone a wing-back – at that age needs at least a reliable deputy.

27 – Christian Kabasele

Admittedly, being a lower ranked centre-back and not a popular old boy presents you at something of a disadvantage in terms of making an impression. Nonetheless, one year on and despite seven starts (plus nine as sub) we don’t know an awful lot more than we did a year ago when Kabasele looked kind of mobile and kind of OK in pre-season. Since then… we’ve learned that Kabasele is half decent as an attacker. That he’s prone to unfortunate attacks of cramp at inopportune moments. And. Umm.

Whilst it’s tempting to think of Kabasele as the youngster – he’s the youngest of our six senior centre-backs – he’s 26. Hardly a spring chicken, and not someone with a load of development left in him. He’s versatile, useful to have around, and if he’s happy to stay then he’s fair enough as cover.

Next Season: But you fancy he might not get that chance…

29 – Étienne Capoue

The aggravating thing is that he’s so nearly completely brilliant. Nearly. Occasionally he’s reaches those levels… the herculean win at the Emirates was built on his shoulders. But some of the time it’s that willingness to take charge, to be the main man, that’s missing. He’s indisputably one of our most talented players but you’d want him to be more of an influence, more than a leader and a driving force than he actually is.

If he were, he wouldn’t be playing for us, and so on and so forth. And let’s not overstate it, he’s still a fine footballer to be wearing a Watford shirt and a weapon that’s easily taken for granted. Significant, too, that his versatility in the midfield, his availability to do a number of different jobs perhaps doesn’t help him… no goals throughout last season in a conservative midfield, four in the first five games of this when given attacking responsibility before being shunted for other duties.

So he’s still an asset. Still a favourite, probably, given the ongoing popularity of “We’ve got Capoue…”, and also the best headline of the season (“Mou’s blue after Capoue Kerpow”). It’s just… well, you know.

Next Season: There’s a suggestion that serious competition for a midfield place would force more of those Arsenal performances out of Capoue. Would be nice to be able to test that theory.

32 – Brandon Mason

Yes, I know it was forced. I know that it happened when there wasn’t much of an option, but give Mazzarri credit. He was willing to blood the kids when the time came; not only that, but was rotating the youngsters in and out of the first team squad (and often into benchwarming duty as part of the matchday squad) throughout the season. Little evidence of that during the previous campaign.

Brandon Mason is completely brilliant. Tough, positive, fearless, his cavalier performance against Burton in the cup was a tremendous thing and the sticking out of the chin and shunting Gabriel Jesus into the hoardings on the thankless last game of the season was a rare highlight of the afternoon.

He’s flawed, obviously, but that almost adds to the attraction. It would be less warming somehow if Mason were a prodigy, so clearly ready that bringing him in and involving him was harder to squint at as evidence of a welcome return to a strategy of blooding some kids. His positional sense isn’t great, his discipline isn’t great. It doesn’t matter. That will come. Brandon Mason is completely brilliant.

Next Season: Onwards and upwards.



1. MartinG - 15/06/2017

Your summing up of Capoue is excellent. He drives me nuts but I’d rather have him that not on balance. Thanks to you and Ig for your entertaining and well judged reviews as always. The comments are usually good too. Roll on next season!

2. finsherwood - 25/06/2017

Capoue seems to divide people or actually I feel that those who express they feelings are mostly against him. For me he is important part of the squad. He seems to be the one who sets up the pressing and puts pressure for opponents. If only others would know when and how to help him. And as he is one of the more skillful players in the team he is often trying to play his way out by himself. And occasionally that ends in losing the ball and maeby even conceding a goal. When we had Zarate in the team, I felt it was important for Capoue as well: there he had a comerade whom he was able to play the ball, even though under bit of pressure. Actually missing Zarate was biggest blow of the season as he seemed to be the missing part. Interesting to see what will be our midfield by August. And formation as well.

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