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End of Term Report Part 1 21/05/2018

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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1- Heurelho Gomes

Had you told us, four years ago, that we’d get three and a half sterling seasons out of Heurelho Gomes, seasons that would see us promoted and dropping anchor in the Premier League with Gomes one of the team’s generals, a huge booming personality who would win Player of the Season… we’d have taken that.  That it’s been three and a half seasons and not four is fundamentally down to a back spasm suffered at Leicester following which Orestis Karnezis was given a chance and, until the tail end of the season, did nothing to warrant losing it again.

But I guess it’s significant that Gomes wasn’t recalled straight away.  I guess…. you bring in a senior, international keeper on loan, you don’t want to discard him when he’s grabbing his chance, but Gomes not being an automatic pick when available would have been unthinkable as recently as a year ago.  I’m not sure it was the right decision with the benefit of hindsight, a defence needs leaders and voices and Gomes is both.  But the fact that we’re even having a conversation suggests that things may have changed.  Certainly, for all that the first half of the season featured some strong performances from Gomes, his celebrated masterclass in the defeat of West Ham not least, he had a few iffier moments too.

Next Season: Gomes has indicated his intention to retire next summer.  We have 12 months to identify a replacement, but are all the stronger for Gomes’ presence in the meantime.

2- Daryl Janmaat

Here’s the thing.  Given that we’re never going to be a Manchester City there’s always going to be something of the imperfect about our players, even our star players, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.  Yes, so-and-so is great but… he does get caught in possession, or he really could use an extra yard of pace, or his decision making isn’t the best or some other bugger’s going to nick him because he’s too good for us and there’s no hiding our gems any more, not even a little bit.

So it is with Janmaat, who has a flaw.  It’s a fairly fundamental flaw for a defender, in that he really isn’t great at defending but in so many other respects he’s tremendous and of course, of course, if he could do all this and defend as well he wouldn’t be playing for us.  So…  the tremendous support he provides to the attack up the right, delivering balls of a dependable quality.  The fabulous, rhinoceros runs that have seen him career through a Chelsea defence twice in the last twelve months, ricocheting off obstacles as he goes.  The wholeheartedness about everything, someone who’s plugged away even when they haven’t been a first choice.  Yes, that’s a big “but” in that first paragraph.  There remains an awful lot to like though, even if smiling a bit more probably wouldn’t hurt his cause.

Next Season:  Right back is no longer a priority recruitment position, you suspect.  Daryl’s going to be thundering up and down our right flank for a while yet.

3- Miguel Britos

It seems that we might have seen the last of Miguel Britos.  It’s possible of course that a new deal was signed without fanfare; Sky’s page listing out-of-contract players suggests that Watford have advised that no senior players are out of contract this summer, one interpretation of which is a rather damning indictment of Britos’ diminishing status.

There’s always been an element of nervousness about Britos, for all that he was all but an automatic pick – when available – for his first two seasons at the club.  Incidents like the ludicrous lunge at Anthony Knockaert in August never felt too far from the surface.  Such isolated incidents paint a distorted picture however, since the Uruguayan would not have held down a place for so long in a defence that, whatever its limitations, has kept us in the Premier League were such incidents typical.  Britos has been at worst a capable option on the left of a pair or a back three but having been ruled out for several months by a foot injury sustained at St James’ Park in November was only used once by Javi Gracia, and that in a thankless task against an irrepressible Mo Salah at Anfield.  One might almost suggest that Britos’ loss of confidence was a calculated one on the part of Gracia, who might have figured that other options could afford a roasting less.  A bit harsh that such is our last memory of him though.

Next Season:  Sparta Prague were linked with a move for Britos last summer.  That feels about right.  Best of luck to Miguel, wherever he ends up.

4- Younès Kaboul

As ever with a player who has been injured all season, there’s very little to say.  Marco Silva lamented the Frenchman’s loss in particular and it’s not hard to see why;  particularly in a back four Kaboul can be imperious, the sort of leader our defence has missed all season.  Looking back at his track record however isn’t altogether encouraging;  this is not a player who has been run into the ground over the course of a long career.  Only once, in 2011/12, has he racked up as many as 40 competitive games and since then he’s managed 85 across 6 seasons.  Competition for a place at Spurs will have contributed to that low number, but this is not a player whose fitness can be relied upon.  This year he played the full 90 on the opening day against Liverpool, missed three games through injury, returned for an hour at Southampton and then that was it for the season as first muscle problems then a metatarsal fracture conspired to remove him from consideration.  Vague assurances about his impending return to full training and the first team squad never quite materialised, one can only imagine that there are concerns about his long term fitness.

Next Season: Kaboul has one more year on his contract, but that’s rather academic since if he can’t get fit then he’s not going to be any better able to contribute anywhere else than he is here.  If he can return to fitness he’s clearly an asset and a big personality, fingers remain crossed.  It would be a surprise to see him in Javi Gracia’s first starting line-up of next season though.

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Comments»

1. Geoff Gaunt - 22/05/2018

Thanks, Matt. Whilst I used to dread my own end of term reports at school, I now regard reading your astute annual assessments an essential part of surviving the close season doldrums. Awaiting the next episode with relish. ..

2. reg - 26/05/2018

I think that Watford supporters can take a lot of credit for the way Gomes has performed for the club. My reading is that at Spurs he was castigated for mistakes which led to a loss of confidence and form. He’s made mistakes for us, I remember a 2-1 defeat at Leicester when he was responsible for both goals but everyone has continued to support the genial, effervescent big man and instead of crumbling he’s rebounded and rewarded us with some great sometimes match-winning performances. I went to watch PSV Eindhoven in March this year and their supporters remember Gomes with fondness.
I saw PSV play the day we lost 5-0 at Anfield. It was a freezing day, I mean it plummeted to minus 11, and before the game we gravitated to the club shop for warmth. They had a tv on which was showing Liverpool v Watford. I managed to avoid all but about 30 seconds of half-time highlights which involved Miguel Britos falling over a lot and Mo Salah dancing round him with ease. I think it’s all over for Britos, I fear that if he keeps playing in the Premier League he will end up more and more resorting to the dark arts like that incredible challenge on Anthony Knockaert which won’t be any good for anyone. To be fair he was playing out of position at left back that day against Brighton but that’s not really a valid excuse.
Thanks for the player assessments Matt.


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