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End of Term Report 2020 – Part 2 06/08/2020

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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7- Gerard Deulofeu

Things being as close as they turned out to be, there are any number of “if only” moments.  Moments which, had the wind been blowing in a different direction might have changed, you know, how it ended.  You’ll have your own favourites, we could drive ourselves crazy thinking along those lines;  Bournemouth will no doubt have a similar list.

But Geri collapsing in pain in the Liverpool game was a big one.  For all that the game exploded beyond our most ambitious hopes thereafter, the loss of Deulofeu lingered at the back of your mind as a “yes, but…”, the knowledge that this could be quite expensive ever so slightly tarnishing the enjoyment of the evening.  So it proved.  We were startlingly more effective with the twin threats of Sarr and Deulofeu either side of Deeney, so much harder to defend against.

He’d joined Watford to play regular football, displaying a degree of humility and self-awareness that not all young graduates of the Barcelona school might possess.  “Why on earth is Gerard Deulofeu playing for Watford” was a mantra borne of highlights reels, but over his two years in the first team at Vicarage Road that regular start saw him become more disciplined, more dependable, more of a leader.  We needed him to stand up at the start of the season when, for much of the time, he was our forward line and he did a better job of it than you’d have credited a year or two earlier.

And if he still has good days and bad days then the former more than fund the latter.  At his best he’s a gem, quick and clever and brave.  You’re not trying hard enough to enjoy the journey if you can’t appreciate the good bits.

Next Season:  But if “Why on earth is Gerard Deulofeu playing for Watford” didn’t stand up to scrutiny, “Why on earth is Gerard Deulofeu playing in the Championship” is not credible.  There are few players less obviously suited to that challenge.  Sadly, that aborted evening against Liverpool seems likely to be his last in a Watford shirt.

8- Tom Cleverley

Tom Cleverley is tremendous.  Honest bloke, honest footballer.  Does simple things well, can play in a number of positions, invariably improves the mentality of any team that he features for.  Calms things down.  At his best, for me, in an attacking central position that he’s been afforded too rarely in his career… he attacks the box really well, he makes things happen, and he’s a leader.

He’s also injured a lot.  No escaping this.  Three and a half seasons back at Vicarage Road now and only in his first half-season on loan under Walter Mazzarri has he had a clear run.  That he’s almost always involved, either from the start or off the bench, says a lot but nonetheless.  Three full seasons, all capsized by injury one way or another.

This might go either way.  His injury record means he’s less likely to be attractive to scavengers (though quite how this will all work in the panicked frenzy that must surely be coming is anyone’s guess at the moment) and with Doucs  and Caps amongst the candidates to be picked off that’s a good thing.  If he can stay fit.

Next Season:  You fancy he might stick around.  Good Thing.

9- Troy Deeney

Few indeed are the players who spend ten years at a club “nowadays”.  Fewer still those who hadn’t been associated with the club as a youth, brought up and based locally.  Fewer still whose ten years have been quite as eventful.

Troy has done the lot, really.  He started off as a bit-part back-up, was fielded on the right wing for a bit, evolved as a central striker, spent time inside (in more than one respect), was given a chance and took it.  Came back more focused, more professional, a force of nature.  No coincidence that the first Pozzo team clicked into gear almost as soon as he rejoined the fray at Huddersfield.  He then became a prolific goalscorer with 66 in all comps over the next three seasons, captained us into the Premier League and decamped there to become almost a household name, a celebrity.

And than celebrity status has put a few off, I think.  I don’t think he’s courted controversy particularly, he’s just been frank and direct and a bit less guarded than he should have been once or twice… but he certainly has an eye on a future in the media and his willingness to give an engaging and entertaining opinion feeds those opportunities.

So this season, when he’s struggled for fitness it’s come back to bite him and the notoriously short memories of football supporters have come to the fore. Not that he’s gotten stick from Watford particularly… but when watching a man struggling to return from injury in a fumbling side, when clearly struggling physically but putting himself through it because – frankly – we had no alternative, he deserved more slack than he got.  His force of personality was achingly visible when he wasn’t in the team, particularly at the start of the season when any kind of leadership was lacking, and as discussed further up he was a full-throttle part of our better performances.

Next Season:  But with one season on his contract, clearly falling into the “higher earner” bracket it’s not hard to see Troy leaving this summer.  I’d fancy him more at a West Brom rather than a Spurs, Troy likes being the man and wouldn’t be so under Mourinho.  But if I’m wrong and he stays I’d be delighted.  Against the odds, he’s become incontrovertibly a Premier League star.  Another, however, for whom fitness has to be a concern.

10- Danny Welbeck

Good decisions don’t guarantee good outcomes.

I was so excited when we signed Danny Welbeck.  Proven quality.  An added weapon, albeit adding to a forward line low in numbers.  A worker, a grifter, a likeable guy.  Tom Cleverley’s best mate.  The sort of guy you include in a World Cup Squad because you know he won’t sulk about not starting, he’ll put in a shift, he’ll support the squad.  What a great signing.  Assuming he stays fit.

Ah.  That was the gamble, of course.  And as it turns out we haven’t quite seen the best of Danny Welbeck.   What we’ve seen has been ok, occasionally pretty good… but a tentative individual has had to twice come back from injury this season, the first time an injury sustained many months earlier at Arsenal.  Both times he’s gradually picked up speed, picked up sharpness.  But not quite gotten there the first time, and only for a handful of games looked the real deal as the season ended.

He’s clearly a top forward.  Assuming he can stay fit.

Next Season:  A fit (!) Danny Welbeck would rip up the Championship.  His profile, and the annual panic about lack of striking options in the bottom half of the Premier League mean that someone will take a punt, one suspects.

Comments»

1. Dave - 06/08/2020

Most of the Deeney dissing (is that a word?) by ‘our fans’ on social mediacomes from those who don’t like his political profile. Their idea of a good day out ius to fight the police in Trafalgar Square and piss on a monument to a fallen PC. I’m worried about how many of these types have crawled out of the woodwork of late. Not seen anything like it at WFC since a few half hearted attempts to sell NF News on Vicarage Road on match days back in the early 90s. Ignore thyeir bile, TD is a club legend and owes us nothing.

Rodney - 10/08/2020

Well said

2. Adrian P - 06/08/2020

Something tells me Deeney stays. I think his support from Gino in the bad times has created a real bond. I know logic says he will leave but I think he’ll stay.

Mark Scholfield - 06/08/2020

Who is going to crazy enough to buy an unfit 32 year old on at least £70k?

3. davewatfordnil - 06/08/2020

Thanks for this summary, Matt. Spot on as always. Hopefully Danny will stay until at least January with potential purchasers looking to see him prove his fitness. With decent service he could have 15 goals by then.

4. davejackson - 06/08/2020

Thanks for your excellent summary of the season, Matt. As regards Welbeck, hopefully any clubs thinking of signing him will give it until January for him to prove his fitness. By then he should have scored about 15 goals for us.

5. PirateTawnee - 09/08/2020

Given how close it ended up being, it’s possible to argue that even having one of these four fully fit for the entire season may have made 2 points difference. I love them all, and in their different ways, they’re all my Watford.


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