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End of Term Report Part 4 31/05/2018

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

13- Molla Wagué

If we’re honest, this is where reality meanders idly towards the kind of dystopia that Watford’s set-up has been most excitably criticised.  The notion of mercenary footballers being traded idly between Watford and Udinese like football stickers. Not that close, mind; more of a glance in the general direction of.  Wagué is no more or less a mercenary than anyone else moving somewhere for their job, and in the circumstances exploiting our relationship to provide much-needed cover was perfectly reasonable, but nonetheless…

Wagué was a last minute loan signing aimed at filling a space on the roster, cover in the centre of defence when it became rapidly clear that we were going to have availability issues at the back.  In his handful of games he looked decent, surprisingly quick and nimble but not immune to the odd mistake, which is why he was only afforded the status of emergency cover.  Come the end of January with central defenders returning (or expected to be returning) he was omitted from the Premier League 25 and so his Watford career ended with the same game as Marco Silva’s, a defeat at Leicester City where he had spent half a season last year playing 70 minutes of an FA Cup defeat at Millwall.  Wiser men than me put him at the bottom of our list of options;  we nod, and thank him, and consign him to the list of players whose names we’ll struggle to recall in a couple of years’ time.

Next Season:  Back at Udinese, one suspects, at least in name;  there looked to be a decent enough defender to be playing at a reasonable level there though.

14- Nathaniel Chalobah

Well what a bloody shame that was.

After a coup of a signing (including a wonderfully mischievous and theatrical Twitter announcement) hopes were high for this season.  August form prompted an England call-up as Chalobah and Doucouré formed a magnificent bedrock to the side in the early fixtures of the season, showcasing the young midfielder’s quick feet, awareness, and ability to choreograph counter-attacks at will.  This was most in evidence at Southampton, where Nate was the star of a fabulous team performance, a weapon in attack and in defence.

Ten days later an innocuous non-contact injury picked up at a training session utterly knackered his season and, arguably, provided the first body-blow to our excellent start.  Initial prognosis was Christmas, but as Christmas came and went without any sign of a return it became clear that this season was a write off.  As I’ve lamented several times, if Doucs does leave this summer we’ve been deprived of a truly formidable midfield pairing., but whatever… it was, in any event, excellent to see him on the pitch at Old Trafford for the final game of the season.

Next Season:  Rewind.  As you were.  Knee injuries are ominous things, but if Nate regains the form of early season there’s another jewel back in place in our crown.  Like many of our squad he comes across as an intelligent, grounded and thoroughly likeable chap.  Fingers, again, crossed.

15- Craig Cathcart

There’s a school of thought out there that seems to see Craig Cathcart as something other than a tremendous defender and a first choice centre back, which baffles me somewhat.   Yet another season decimated by injury, Craig had missed the end of pre-season and made his first appearance off the bench against Brighton in the wake of Miguel Britos’ dismissal.  Twenty minutes later he was off again with a knee injury, destined not to start a game until the trip to Huddersfield in mid-April which most people seem to have hated but I rather enjoyed.

The result of that game, and the one win yielded from the final five in which he played every minute disguise the settling effect Craig had on a defence which suddenly looked solid, arguably for the first time this season.  He makes an art form of unflashily being in the right place and the right time and Sorting Things Out;  no surprise that the defensively minded Gracia quickly recognised his value, or that we yielded only five goals in those five games which included trips to Spurs and United.  One goal a game against significantly preferable to the 1.8 per game over the rest of the season (one of which, that clean sheet with ten men against Brighton, Craig had also been a part of).

Next Season:  Whilst we expect to see incoming traffic in the centre of defence over the summer, that partnership with Kabasele looked very decent to me.  Very much part of the picture still one hopes;  Slav, for one, will be sniffing around again should this not be the case.  Would be our loss.

16- Abdoulaye Doucouré

Easily forgotten that Doucs was discarded at the start of last season, almost on a plane to Lorient as Walter Mazzarri made what was already the first baffling decision of his Watford career.  When he nudged his way into the side in the wake of an insurmountable injury crisis his impact was such that he was mentioned in the Player of the Season discussions a year ago after only half a season in the side.

There was no such discussion this time.  No need for it.  We’ve had some very fine midfielders in the past.  Others, perhaps less talented, who have performed an essential role as a cog in a functioning unit.  But I struggle to remember as dominant a season by a central midfielder, certainly not at this level.  Nobody has grabbed the midfield like Doucouré and flayed it to within an inch of its life, stomping all over it, driving through it, winning back possession and setting an attack into motion, seven times being at the decisive end of it, the first midfielder to top our goalscoring charts since Peter Kennedy 20 years ago.

Towards the end of the season his form dipped a little, but even then he was a more than capable member of a suddenly functioning midfield unit.  The only real downside, of course, the fact that having justifiably attracted the attention of the country’s biggest clubs he made no secret of preening in front of them.  No surprise or disgrace that he should want to better himself of course…  indeed, the whole Pozzo model is dependent on selling on the family silver (at the right time, for the right price).  But… he could have been a bit less excitable about it.

Next Season:  He’ll only be at Vicarage Road if nobody’s offered us a shedload of money.  And someone or three really ought to be offering us a shedload of money.



1. RS - 31/05/2018

As ever, appreciating the rational bhappy outlook on things WFC however the engineer (pedant??) in me has to observe decimated generally refers to reduction by one tenth… a bit like the dimensional abuse of quantum leap lol.

Thank you both though for another season of well observed comment.

Matt Rowson - 31/05/2018

You’re betraying your age, sir…

past tense: decimated; past participle: decimated
kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of.
“the inhabitants of the country had been decimated”
kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group.
“the man who is to determine whether it be necessary to decimate a large body of mutineers”

RS - 01/06/2018

Ouch; I sit (not age related) kind of corrected. I still hold with the second definition (one in ten). Mullered might as well be #1? Or does that relate to yogurt?

What is you reference Sir?

Matt Rowson - 01/06/2018

Google, in response to “Definition: Decimated”.

SteveG - 03/06/2018

Language is a living thing and words do change their meaning with time. So, if I were to say that in an ideal world the referee should be totally disinterested, I’d figure that that most people would either wonder why I would think it’s a good idea that the referee doesn’t give a toss, or think I was just being a pedantic git about the meaning of ‘disinterested’.

It would probably only be a small minority who would agree that it is of course desirable that the referee should indeed be completely impartial and hence disinterested.

And while I might get mildly annoyed that people might have abandoned a perfectly good word (uninterested) that was the obvious one to use (when I were a lad) as the opposite of interested, I can’t very well deny that these days the majority of people to seem to use disinterested in the ‘couldn’t give a toss’ sense. So the meaning is what it is…or has become.

And also, in fairness, if I were to insist on the use of ‘disinterested’ for our fair and incorruptible referee, I’d probably deserve to be called a pedantic git.

And a Google search suggests that these meanings have interchanged several times over the last few centuries. Which I actually think is quite interesting.

2. PEDantic - 02/06/2018

Matt, I’d just like to echo your sentiments concerning the Huddersfield trip. It was the most enjoyable away game of the season experience-wise. The team’s wasn’t great of course, but by no means the worst; remember Brighton and West Ham for instance?

P.S. Any chance of a response to my query about your Player of the Season comment in Part 2? Crisb wants to know as well!

Matt Rowson - 03/06/2018

Done… sorry. I did write a reply before but must have forgotten to dispatch/got distracted…

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