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End of Term Report Part 2 24/05/2018

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

5- Sebastian Prödl

A bit of a contrast for 2016/17’s Player of the Season, who enjoyed nothing like the same success this time around.  Sidelined with a hamstring injury for much of the first half of the season his much vaunted return coincided with our collapse in form in December.  He struggled badly in many of those games looking a clumsy and unhappy shadow of the dominant figure of last season, subsequently suggesting that he came back from injury too early in the light of our injury problems.  When he was dropped for the untested Molla Wagué on Boxing Day we scraped a win, and though our form took longer to settle Seb was largely confined to the bench throughout a busy January.

Back into the side under Javi Gracia he’s looked more solid, more like his old self although he’s never been quite as happy in the back four that the Spaniard prefers.

Next Season:  It will be interesting to see how Seb goes next season.  He’s a big personality, a leader, but the Kabasele/Cathcart partnership looked a strong one.  An massive asset in the right formation, he can look older than his 30 years when exposed.

6- Adrian Mariappa

Those of the 4000-odd that watched a young Mariappa in tears as the Hornets side that he captained bowed out of the Youth Cup to Spurs in 2005 will have taken nothing but joy from the last eighteen months or so of his career.  A last resort under Mazzarri he’s been much more frequently employed this term;  injuries have played a part again, but nonetheless only four players – Doucouré, Richarlíson, Kabasele, Holebas – started more games and seeing Mapps captain the side at Wembley was a fine thing on an otherwise unremarkable evening.

If his performances haven’t been faultless he’s nonetheless been in the side on merit;  ploughing through match programme interviews has him invariably cited as the best trainer at the club, the most committed.  He’s a 100% bona fide asset, and the longer he’s involved in the first team squad the happier I’ll be – it would be interesting to know where he came in the Player of the Season reckoning which, as an aside, seems to drift incongruously further away from the bulk of the support with every season.

Next Season:  You might not have him in your first choice eleven, but his versatility and drive demands a place on the bench.  And home grown to boot, in the very truest sense.  Hurrah.

7 (#1) – Nordin Amrabat

Nordin started three Premier League games for us this season.  That feels slightly extraordinary now, as is often the case when reviewing August departures in these days of a rapidly churning squad.  Indeed, his departure to Leganés on loan was slightly surprising giving his early involvement and was lamented by an already whining Marco Silva, the earliest sign that all was not altogether smooth behind the scenes under the new head coach.

Nonetheless, there’s not a lot to add.  Nordin’s got something, a directness and aggression but it never quite delivered on its promise at Watford, certainly not consistently enough.  He’s featured regularly in Spain this term, but the fact that he scored his first goal in three years against Betis this week tells a story.

Next Season:  A place in Morocco’s World Cup squad gives Amrabat a platform to find a long-term home.  It seems unlikely to be at Vicarage Road.

7 (#2) – Gerard Deulofeu

What a bizarre thing.  Anyone who’s watched Watford – any club, perhaps – for any length of time will be used to the sight of a winger exploding into view with an exciting burst of light, a good line in tricks or the ability to run very fast, only to disappear equally quickly when the characteristics missing from the extensive armoury that a successful winger requires – speed, strength, delivery, decision making, ability to look up now and again – are exposed.

What’s unusual is for this to happen within the space of seven games   (Anthony McNamee, after all, seemed to take a decade to tread this well established path). “Disappearing” is a bit of an exaggeration of course but nonetheless….  after a promising debut at Stoke, the Spaniard – a high profile loan signing, a coup – helped us blow Chelsea away in the most memorable evening of the campaign.  He was the shining star of a glorious night, winning the opening penalty and scoring a ludicrous third goal before departing to an ovation.

And that, pretty much, was that.  He limped out of the game against Everton and onto the sidelines for two months but his impact against West Ham and for an hour against his former club had  already been less startling.  Less startling, certainly than the extraordinary statistic that bears repeating:  those first three goals against Chelsea were the only goals we scored with Gerard on the pitch.

Next Season:  Gerard joined Watford to play his way into World Cup contention and to provide us with some pzazz that we’d been missing.  The move failed on both counts but might not have…  there’s more than enough about him to suggest that he’s still a coup, that we’d benefit more from him than the last few months have suggested – certainly in the decision to forego Barcelona for Vicarage Road suggests a strong character.  The tone of his departure and social media goodbye suggested that this might not be the case, but more encouraging reports appeared yesterday.  Watch this space.


1. Simon - 26/05/2018

Just recently discovered this blog. It’s refreshing to find someone able to write intelligently, and yet lightly, about the highs and inevitable lows of our season. No doom and gloom or needless writing off of players. Keep going please.

2. PEDantic - 26/05/2018

Thanks for these assessments, Matt. It’s really interesting to get your views on individuals.
However, I’m struggling to understand what you meant by this: “the Player of the Season reckoning which, as an aside, seems to drift incongruously further away from the bulk of the support with every season.” Do you mean fewer people voting, those who don’t vote not agreeing with the result, or something else?

crisb - 01/06/2018

yes, this! dont leave us in suspense! 🙂

Matt Rowson - 03/06/2018

The point I was getting at was that this is supposed to be a supporters’ thing but is now (and has for several years) been presented at an exclusive end of year dinner. Further, we’re no longer privy to the detail of the voting – who came second, number of votes etc etc.

A small grumble in the context of a club being run very well etc etc but nonetheless, a grumble.

PEDantic - 03/06/2018

Thanks Matt and, for the record, I couldn’t agree more. I used to enjoy the presentation on the pitch before the last game but I know one manager (maybe even GT?) used to think it distracted the players from the job in hand.

Crisb - 03/06/2018

Ah I thought so – yes this wrankles with me slightly too. Considering the normally hands off approach to supporters type things (banners etc) this sticks out a bit now as a bit ‘management-y’. Perhaps the pl stars (or their agents) don’t like being told how it is for real!

3. reg - 26/05/2018

I think that last season Adrian Mariappa was an absolute credit to Watford, the game and himself. Total unselfish commitment, brave and willing to throw himself in front of any shot whatever the consequence. I seems to recall that he was initially just brought in as cover and I certainly didn’t anticipate him playing such a prominent role as he did in 2017/18. As you say Matt a fabulous touch that he captained the side at Wembley v Spurs on a spring evening.

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