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Watford 0 Bournemouth 4 (06/10/2018) 07/10/2018

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

1- Waking up to bad news is an unpleasant thing.  You feel cheated, somehow, as if the day’s shit has stolen a march on you before you’ve even brushed your teeth.  You may be able to think of a couple of examples of the not too distant past of waking up and thinking “what?  what?  but today hasn’t even started yet!”.

But if waking up to bad news is unpleasant, being woken up to bad news is worse.  Specifically, woken up an hour after you went to bed to the fraught words “there’s a rat in the house!!!”…

It’s been an atrocious week, frankly.  Our unwelcome house guest has carved out it’s own niche in my head also, never far from the front of mind whether at home, or work, whether I’ve been wondering whether that noise was the washing machine or not or whether the little bastard has been parading across our kitchen behind the glass windows that separate it from the living room in a manner befitting of a top hat and tails.  If you’ve been there, I guess you’ll know.  Anyway…  as we’ve discussed on these pages before, football serves a variety of purposes dependent on circumstances and catharsis is certainly one such.  I needed the weekend to come.  I needed something to shout at.

2- Perhaps we all did.  Despite the vicious cold and miserably persistent rain that had snuck up on early October (and indifferent to the fact that having been preoccupied with locating their coats I’d forgotten my own. Again.), daughters 1 and 2 insisted that we adopt position in the Rookery shortly after 2pm.  By kick-off Daughter 2 was standing on her chair vigorously waving an 1881 flag, giggling as the wind caught it and almost took her off her seat and pausing only to ask what had happened to Ben Watson, whilst Daughter 1 was using Siri to identify “Hard Men” by DJ Vickers off the tannoy.  This may sound mundane, but it’s a level of pre-match involvement in matters in hand which is slightly unusual.

It was also the highlight of the afternoon.  Line-ups revealed our third right-back in as many League games, Femenía now in for the injured Navarro, but an eleven otherwise unchanged since the opening day.  And the first 14 minutes were OK… Bournemouth dropped deep and invited us into congested areas, but we did an encouraging enough job having accepted said invitation.  This culminated in Andre Gray’s shot being blocked as he span away on the right hand side of the area, and shortly afterwards the cumulative attritional effect of a series of attacks peeled open a space for Will Hughes to have a go.  It was a relatively comfortable ask for Begović, who held the ball down to his right, but as an opening salvo it was perfectly acceptable.

Our complete bloody doziness in dealing with Bournemouth’s counter-attacking that saw them burst out like speedskaters and quickly overload us was less acceptable.  As an approach it’s designed to catch you on your heels, to capitalise on any sluggishness in attention but it’s as old a strategy as the game itself and it’s what Bournemouth do.  That doesn’t mean it’s easy to stop but good God you’ve got to to do better than this.  You’ve got to be ready for it, alert to the possibility, Étienne Capoue, that Ryan Fraser might be looking to steal a march on you.  90% of Watford supporters’ pre-match analyses would have featured the sentiment, “we’ve got to watch them on the break”.  We did watch them.  We watched them scream out down the left and find a man free on the far post.  Ben Foster hurled himself across goal to make an outrageous save that was entirely lost in the fact that he could only parry the ball to David Brooks, who finished unfussily.

3- Eddie Howe would acknowledge post-match that Christian Kabasele’s red card was pivotal.  It could equally be argued that we had our backs to the wall as soon as we went behind in conditions like these against this particular opponent.  I’d further suggest that we lost this game before we conceded as soon as we got all lackadaisical in midfield.

But certainly it’s true that if there’s one thing worse than being 1-0 down at home to an expert counterattacking side it’s being 2-0 down at home to an expert counterattacking side, and if there’s anything worse than that it’s going down to ten men in the bargain.  Craig Cathcart’s missed header in the interim was perhaps another sliding door moment, a cruel glimpse at a different game but it came and went as chances have done in preceding weeks.  And suddenly Christian Kabasele, who had already picked up a stupid booking for a clumsy challenge on Begovic, found himself the wrong side of Josh King.  It was a horror show in retrospect, losing his man and then not even doing a good enough job of bringing him down outside the area – if you’re going to grab his shirt for god’s sake don’t let go again – before swinging a leg in the manner of a child who already know’s they’ve lost the game and are making a sulky pretence of playing it out.  At the time I thought he’d taken the ball; very quickly the lack of on-pitch protest revealed this to be nonsense.  Kabasele departed, King sent Foster the wrong way and we were looking down the barrel of a horrible hour of football.

4- It’s tempting to draw a veil over the rest of it.  But before we do, a word for the rather odd decision to drop Étienne Capoue into defence and maintain a two-man forward line.  Bold, certainly… but whilst pausing to acknowledge that it’s much easier to make such calls after the event, bizarre also.   Capoue showed a brief glimpse of what the idea might have been;  a rare moment of unhurried possession saw him rake an extraordinary crossfield pass to the galloping Kiko Femenía wide on the right; this, as with too many of Femenía’s gallops down the right, came to nothing.  More frequently Capoue was simply not looking like a defender; harsh to blame him for that, but the fourth goal just after the break made an already evident problem unignorable as Callum Wilson wandered into the space that Capoue should have been monitoring and almost apologetically completed the scoring.

On came Mapps and Isaac Success and the ship was steadied, albeit with the game gone and the performance so low it was perhaps less difficult to make some kind of positive impression.  There’s something to be said for the fact that we kept plugging away… I think you’d be stunned, given the character of the side this season, with anything else but perhaps not to be taken for granted.  Abdoulaye Doucouré for one seemed willing to take hold of the ball, to take responsibility for trying to make something happen.  Equally, there’s no avoiding that Bournemouth came much closer to adding to their tally than we did to opening ours in what was left of the second half.

As for the Cherries… the addition of Jefferson Lerma is significant in the midfield; he’s the heavyweight anchor that allows the likes of King, Wilson and Fraser to spin off with a degree of abandon.  Hugely effective today, albeit that the day panned out pretty much as they’d have chosen, but no more likeable than ever despite, for a change, not being faced with a tight game in which to manipulate any advantage that was going.  Adam Smith, who collapsed in prolonged paroxysms of agony after Gerard Deulofeu coughed on him in passing in the final minutes, epitomised the snide nature of Eddie Howe’s side.

5- Looking forward, it will be interesting to watch how Javi responds to what is his first major setback as manager;  his placid “we lost four-nil; forget the ref, we’ve clearly got stuff to sort” on MotD was encouraging but there have been plenty of managers – Alex Neil springs to mind – who’ve looked great when everything’s humming and dramatically less so once it’s stopped.

But today the cold rain has gone and the sun is out again.  Difficult to reconstruct quite how miserable yesterday was. And that’s the way I’m going to think about it for the next two weeks;  we’ve had a brilliant season so far – even if the cost of not winning when playing well is now all the more evident – and getting all stroppy about our first bad performance won’t do anyone any good.  It’s not stretching credibility too much to say that this was a day in which absolutely nothing went our way, from conceding on the break to two yellow cards for Kabasele either of which might have been passed over on a good day, to Jonathan Moss huffing and puffing around the centre circle.  Perhaps this is the world getting back into balance, payback for Joel Ward’s last minute miss against Palace, for Spurs and Burnley… not in terms of fortune, but in terms of good and bad has to even out and we got all of our bad out of the way in one go.  There’s stuff that needs sorting.  But a lot of stuff that doesn’t.  As for our intruder… it, too has been absent for a few days, the hope that the poison laid down by The Man has taken effect.  I may even re-enter the kitchen this afternoon.  Horrible things are always a tunnel to get through after all.

Next up Molineux, without three-quarters of our first choice backline, but with a clean slate.

Bring it on.  Yooorns.

Foster 2, Femenía 1, Holebas 2, Cathcart 2, Kabasele 1, Hughes 2, Capoue 2, *Doucouré 3*, Pereyra 1, Gray 2, Deeney 2
Subs: Success (for Gray, 55) 3, Mariappa (for Hughes, 55) 3, Deulofeu (for Pereyra, 74) 2, Masina, Sema, Chalobah, Gomes


1. Roger Smith - 07/10/2018

Two non-excuses come to mind. Firstly, after recent form and so nearly holding in-form Arsenal away, we’d concluded that any team outside the top six was there for the taking. Secondly, could Deeney’s well publicised matrimonial difficulty have distracted not only the talisman himself, but also the team that he leads?

2. James - 07/10/2018

I think you’re rather underselling our performance with 11 men. We were much the better side despite being repeatedly caught on the break. Bournemouth were defending pretty desperately every time we went forward. Forced to fling bodies in front of shots again and again. Trouble is, fate was very much on their side. Every deflection, sliced clearance, blind pass, not to mention decision, went their way. This was a game full of mistakes from both sides and the referee, and Bournemouth benefited from all of it.

Kabasele should never have been booked for that challenge on the keeper. You are, at least in theory, allowed to challenge the goalkeeper for an aerial ball. Referees never seem to allow it in practice though. I wasn’t surprised to see it given as a foul. No way was it a booking though.

At the time I thought we had a pretty good penalty shout as well, when Pereyra was shoved in the back while attempting a shot. I couldn’t stomach watching MOTD to confirm my initial judgment though.

I wonder if Troy’s media comments about our targeting of Zaha contributed to yet another unfavourable refereeing performance vs Bournemouth?

Matt Rowson - 07/10/2018

Obviously we didn’t see things the same way. We were doing fine until we went behind but we were playing the game Bournemouth wanted us to play. We knocked on the door, didn’t get through and they broke on us.

Kabasele… not with your arm up. He might have got away with it but silly anyway.

Pereyra… wasn’t looking for the penalty shout, will look again. Certainly we were one good touch away from going ahead there.

Unfavourable refereeing performance… thought the third might have been offside, but otherwise I thought Moss was just his usual rather lazy self, not particularly favouring either side. It just aggravated us because we were 4-0 down.

Harefield Hornet - 07/10/2018

We had a good handball shout ignored just before they scored. I can’t renember who it was but they stuck out their arm and there was definite contact. Again another Moss spec savers moment!!

3. Harefield Hornet - 07/10/2018

As bad as yesterday was – losing to Bournemouth 0-4 at home must have ranked as a lot of people’s worst nightmares, until it became a frightening reality, I sat fuming as EH said afterward that they weren’t at their best and could have played much better! Smug B*****d!

James - 07/10/2018

I didn’t watch the interviews, but I think he was right. Neither side were particularly good. Both gave the ball away repeatedly under little pressure. Neither side looked remotely organised at the back. The result came about as much through luck and our mistakes as anything Bournemouth actually did.

Harefield Hornet - 08/10/2018

Fair enough but he’s still a smug so and so! The

4. Robert Hill - 07/10/2018

ThE Troy situation is probably not welcome at the club. Of course it is a personal issue but no one can say that his behaviour was not part of the performance yesterday. In my book he wasn’t at his best by a long way. Taking a defeat like that from Bournemouth is quite disappointing to say the least. Our performance was poor, and yes the sending off had such a huge change to the game. You could see the difference in the Bournemouth team after that had happened but do think that perhaps a Mariappa would have bolted the door better than Capoue. So I think that putting Capoue in his position was suicidal. He should have taken off Capoue or a midfielder for Mapps. I do like Javi but I do think he got this one wrong. The 1st thing you do in this situation is lock the door and play on the counter. So disappointed at that decision. That could have made it so much better for us where we could have shut up and played on the counter.

Matt Rowson - 07/10/2018

agree that he wasn’t at his best. but Kabasele, Femenía, Pereyra etc don’t have such issues to contend with and they all had stinkers too. Impossible to tell to what extent Troy’s situation affected him – bearing in mind that all that’s happened this week is that we’ve learned about it. It’ll have been going on previously when his form was strong.

Robert Hill - 08/10/2018

Yes but it didn’t straddle the press like it has done now. Bournemouth were clever and certainly aggravated our back four, playing up to the referee and Tindall on the line calling for every decision. Not pretty or the way the game should be handled by those on the bench. There was definitely a massive aggression in Bournemouth that I’ve not seen before and all I can say is that they won’t get away with it when playing the top sides. When we go there on New Years Day we really need to be up for it and be a little more ‘professional’ ourselves if that’s the way they want to go. For me a great result for them but more than tinged by their aggression to get our players booked and sent off. In my opinion Howe is changing his ways and not for the better.

5. Old Git - 07/10/2018

Bang on, I think, Roger. We’ve put Troy up on a pedestal and have gone for the idea that he’s a reformed character, a role model, mentor to the younger players, devoted dad and family man. To us fans, we see him as a True Legend. Of course, we don’t know him, or indeed the truth but hopefully the real Troy is not the one we saw against Stoke last year but unfortunately I can’t help remembering our previous hero worship of Marlon King, before his cover was blown. If Troy really has behaved as reported then the lurid headlines will certainly be affecting him and inevitably cause him to lose focus both in terms of his individual performance and in terms of his role as team leader.
One for the head coach to think about…

6. Harefield Hornet - 08/10/2018

I know the Mail Online is not everyone’s cup of tea but there’s an interesting article on there about teams tactically trying to get opponents sent off. Bournemouth feature in it not surprisingly!

7. Robin - 08/10/2018

Hope you don’t regret the poison being effective. A dead rat rotting in an inaccessible place under the floorboards is not a smell you want to come home to day after day.

Any comparisons you might wish to draw with Bournemouth are not my responsibility.

Matt Rowson - 08/10/2018

No floorboards, tiles over concrete. It’s getting into the wall cavity and nesting outside (we think); plan is that poison makes it sleepy so it goes home for a kip and then… doesn’t wake up. Agree that horrific smell would be unwelcome, but at least then we could block up entry point and know that end was in sight (albeit after a nasty couple of weeks)

Matt Rowson - 08/10/2018

Those who didn’t come here for This Type Of Thing… live with it. I can’t think about much else at the moment…

8. Sequel - 08/10/2018

Matt, I’ve worked in the pest control profession for over 30 years, so I know what you’re going through and, believe me, dead rats smell even worse than Saturday’s performance.

Peter - 09/10/2018

as a pest control expert, please would you deal with Mr Howe – away from smelling distance.

9. RS - 09/10/2018

Borrow a Jack Russel or similar for a week

Sequel - 10/10/2018

A sheepdog would have been more effective than Jon Moss on Saturday

Harefield Hornet - 10/10/2018

The one from the spec-savers advert preferably!

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