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End of Term Report – Part 1 27/05/2019

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

1- Heurelho Gomes

Heurelho Gomes, baby.

I enjoy the routine of the twice-weekly general football podcasts.  The tendency of the one to cover the same anecdotes and curios as the other can get a bit wearing, but they pass the time.

Aggravating, though, how little attention they pay.  Really.  Shouldn’t be a surprise perhaps but… you know.  We’ve been in the top flight for four years, you’d hope that we’re worth more than a cursory glance.  One of the two managed to preview the Cup Final for a good ten minutes whilst mentioning the team that weren’t City only once.

So Heurelho Gomes still wears the mantle awarded during the tail end of his first team career at Spurs nearly eight years ago, still a slight intake of breath before mentioning his name.  This despite his since being part of a promotion-winning side, a squad that is about to go into its fifth season in the top flight, winning Player of the Season in that first, unlikeliest mid-table campaign. All of this in the shadow of his White Hart Lane career.

Whatever.  Gomes has been tremendous during his time at Vicarage Road, even if not enough people have been paying attention.  What looks likely to prove his final season has seen him step backwards into a backup/cup ties role.  It speaks volumes for him that not only has he done so with good grace, but he has clearly been hugely supportive of the man signed to take his place in what has been a tightly-knit goalkeeping sub-team of three.

Next Season:  It would be a shame if Gomes’ career was concluded with a 6-0 mauling in the Cup Final, and the club clearly hope to persuade him to stay on… even if the number of goalkeepers in The List suggests that we’re not counting on succeeding.

2- Daryl Janmaat

It seems slightly peculiar that not so long ago right back was deemed a problem position.  That we were convinced that Daryl was a wingback, that he wasn’t solid enough to be a proper defender.

Now… you might consider right back as a position where we could realistically upgrade but nonetheless, the real question is how we’ve managed to get away with keeping Daryl and Kiko in tandem for so long. Both probably better going forward, Daryl’s approach is the rhinoceros to Kiko’s fleet sidewinder… but similarly capable options in defence, the days when Daryl wasn’t solid enough all but forgotten.

Nonetheless, it’s been clear as the season has progressed that Daryl is the second in line of the two as it stands. Unreasonable to expect him to be happy at much especially since, like his teammate on the other side of the defence, he rarely looks happy about anything much.

Next Season:  Stories throughout the season have had Daryl first suggesting that he’d want to return to Feyenoord “at some stage”, and then that he’d be heading back this summer.  The cup final, in which he was confined to the sub’s bench, may have been a tipping point.

3- Miguel Britos

The funny thing about Miguel is that he’s always been on the way out.  Sent off on his debut against Preston three and a half years ago, a Uruguayan centre half is certainly a reputation to play down…  then the violent assault on Anthony Knockaert, the absolute skinning he took at Anfield in the stuffing-before-last up there.  Those are probably the things that stand out if you saw them live.

The latter particularly harsh of course.  Plenty of defenders have been skinned at Anfield without going into the game on the back of four months out of the side.  And yet if opinion didn’t turn against Britos he was certainly relegated to the role of backup pretty damn sharpish, despite what had been a solid enough career as a left-sided option to that point.

To the extent that Miguel’s thoroughly competent performances in his outings this season were viewed with some surprise… and indeed, made you wonder whether he’d perhaps been too quickly discarded.  Injuries have contributed, but he has made only three League starts since getting injured in the 3-0 win at Newcastle in November 2017: away to Liverpool, City and United, which is hardly an easy brief.  Otherwise he excelled in three away trips in the cup, each of which yielding a clean sheet and reminded you how brutally but unflashily effective he has been for much of his senior Watford career.

Next Season:  Which would now seem to be over, with Miguel’s contract about to end and him having been quoted as expressing a desire to return to Uruguay for family barbecues.  Which paints a picture of a regular down-to-earth guy;  best of luck to him.  It’s probably the right time, but we’re still the weaker for his departure.

5- Sebastian Prödl

Completing the opening quartet is another who could conceivably be on his way out.  It’s not his age – Seb will turn 32 over the summer.  It’s probably not the knee injury either, much as that seems to have kept him out for most of the season (or not, depending on who you believe) – his senior outings this term the win at Reading, plus 13 aborted minutes at Molineux, this in October his last action of any kind.

The real problem with Seb is that, much as he’s a strong centre-half he’s not much bloody use to you unless he’s a first choice.  Whilst he’s had some very strong spells at Vicarage Road – indeed, a very strong 2016/17 that saw him named Player of the Season – these very strong spells have exclusively been when he’s established in the side.  Almost without exception he’s looked a cumbersome mess coming off the bench, or stepping in after a long spell out.  As such, and pending any changes over the summer, it seems unlikely that he’ll work his way back into contention.

Next Season:  Not difficult to see Seb returning either to Austria or the Bundesliga over the summer.


1. John - 27/05/2019

No challenge to any of your views Matt, so far.
Living in Lancashire I don’t get to many games but I do find your reports (and Ian’s) very factual, honest & refreshing.
Many thanks

2. Crisb - 27/05/2019

Haha you’re right about the Totally Football show, I was outraged when they just waffled about city for a few minutes then never mentioned us! Thankfully Simon Burnton was on the other one..it’s funny because they usually mock the lightweight punditry on offer from the telly people, but are not above it themselves.

I mean ask anyone how squirmy they felt when they found it was Bondy in goal instead of Almunia in that Leeds game, its in a different league to Gomes and Foster…

3. JohnF - 28/05/2019

Gomes has been fantastic and a real gentleman but I suspect that club would like to keep him in a coaching role rather than a playing role. He is late thirties and Foster isn’t far behind. I think we need to start looking at bringing down the average age of the squad and Bachmann has had a terrific season with Killlie. He has expressed his desire to fight for a place at Watford and I’m sure he must have had some indication from the club.

As far as the pundits are concerned, I’m quite happy to stay under the radar for the moment.

Matt Rowson - 28/05/2019

All fair…

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