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End of Term Report 2020 – Part 5 17/08/2020

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

22- Isaac Success

So there’s a big part of me that wants to say…  here’s a big chance for Isaac.  A season in the Championship, perhaps overdue.  A chance to finally prove his worth, to make good his potential.  For me, he’s always been a better striker than a wide man.  Born to play the lone front man role, or the centre of a three holding the ball up, letting things roll off him.  Here’s his chance.

Thing is, he’s had a few chances has Isaac.  Cruelly perhaps it was bad luck rather than anything else that denied him this season;  his groin injury in August coincided with Troy’s absence, an achilles injury ruled him out after the restart when we badly needed some kind of relief for his captain.  But he’s started one Premier League game since the start of last year.  Time’s running out.

Next Season:  Strikers being strikers there’ll always be someone, somewhere willing to take a punt.  He’s got three years left on his contract though, so it’s going to cost someone some money for him to move on.  I’m not convinced that Isaac hanging around would be such a bad thing.

23 – Ismaïla Sarr

This is the bit of being relegated that’s hardest to put a brave face on.  Ismaïla Sarr may have started slowly, looked like a young child on his first day at big school quite a lot of the time, looked like a young child sulking about being made to stay in and do his homework quite a lot of the rest of the time…

But beyond that he was brilliant.  Quick, aggressive, bold, positive, and at his best completely uncontainable.

That “his best” was only intermittent wasn’t entirely his fault…  as we stumbled towards the end of the season the entire team malfunctioned and Sarr was self-evidently the biggest threat and watched accordingly.

But the trajectory, the direction of travel is startling.  Had we been in the Premier League this coming season we’d have been drooling at the another season of Sarr.

Next Season: As it is, we await what is surely inevitable with a degree of resignation.  And try not to get too excited when Sarr announces that he would happily play in the Championship if no bid is accepted, and the club declare that they aren’t in the position of needing to sell.  Because in both cases that’s what you’d expect them to say, right? Right?

25- José Holebas

Oddly, for such a long-serving, remarkable and colourful character there’s very little to say here, simply because it’s been said already.  Said by plenty of us as José made a characteristically huffy exit (you’d have been disappointed if it was any other way), packing his bags on social media as the season drew to a close.

But let’s say it anyway.  As we prepared for life in the Premier League in 2015 you would’t have put money on José being one of the new signings who stuck around for five years (Capoue the other).  His arrival saw him first denying all knowledge of the transfer, then insisting that he didn’t want to come, then visibly sulking as Nathan Aké was preferred at left back for much of that first season.

Despite this, despite (or because) of always seeming to be in a strop, Holebas became a cult hero.  It wasn’t all on his attitude either…  he was 31 when he signed for Watford and yet thundered up and down the left flank whenever asked to for five years, put in a wicked cross, was booked 41 times (the first an hour into his debut at Goodison) and sent off twice (one rescinded).  He scored six goals, five of which in victories including a winning goal at Boro and a decisive goal against Palace, and covered at centre back against Manchester City of all things, alongside Valon Behrami.

His final season was odd, since you kind of felt that the bloody mindedness we were lacking, particularly after the restart, was contained in high concentration in this hugely competitive full back.  There was discussion that his “legs had gone”, but for me this was expectation based on his advancing years unsubstantiated by what was going on on the pitch.  His final Premier League start was at Southampton in November, his final appearance off the bench against the same opposition at Vicarage Road when, fittingly, his brief cameo provided an assist in the shape of a fizzing cross turned into his own goal by Jan Bednarek.

He may not have wanted to come, he may have left in a strop, but he was huge fun during the five years in between.

Next Season:  Latest rumours have him returning to Olympiacos.  Greek refs will be bracing themselves.

26- Ben Foster

So seeing as we’ve got to mid-August and nobody’s mentioned it it seems that we’ve quietly forgotten about Player of the Season this time around.  Had we not done so, it seems likely that Ben Foster would have achieved the questionable feat of twice receiving the award on relegation from the Premier League – and thirteen years apart to boot.

Thing is, he really didn’t start the season well.  I remember coming out of Goodison Park being quite worried about the goalkeeping situation (although that was a year ago today if you’re reading this piece on the day that it’s published so forgive my memory for fading a bit).

During the season he picked up dramatically and kept us in games and scorelines respectable. He’s also clearly a tremendous bloke, and was heroic off pitch as much as on it.

There have still been a few mistakes though.  And, well, nobody comes out of this season with an unblemished record.  But still…

Next Season:  Plenty of clubs have been linked with an interest in Ben both before he signed a new contract and since.  When West Brom went down he claimed to be on the verge of quitting the game;  it will be interesting to see what he decides this time.  If he stays, we’re all the stronger for it.




1. Ray Knight - 17/08/2020

Another great write up Matt. Ben Foster – now a WFC legend, a GK often written off by the EPL naysayers. Ironic he is now linked to Chelsea of all clubs. Holebas more a legendary character who made me smile due to his antics. Global football has become bland so Holly bucked that trend. You know I don’t rate Success and don’t share your optimism he can now lead the line and deliver. He will cost the Pozzos a judge wedge over the life of his contract. Would luv to keep Sarr but can’t see it happening. If the Pozzos have to accept less than £40 million they must insist on a large sell-on fee, appearances and goals payments in the future. The Jadon Sancho experience must be heeded. Otherwise starting to look ahead now.

2. PEDantic - 17/08/2020

Thanks for the reminder about the lack of a Player of the Season for 2020. I actually think it’s a bit of an insult to the fans to not give us the opportunity to pick one seemingly just because we were relegated. It’s not as if it’s the first time that’s happened!
Otherwise, I fully agree with your comments on Holebas, but Success? No, just no.

3. John Ford - 17/08/2020

The whole site has been a ray of hope during this bleak period – thanks Matt & Ian.
I think with his unfortunate surname Success was always doomed to underachieve.. My abiding memory is of him being dumped on his backside by a quicker & more agile defender and then waiting forlornly for someone to give him a hand up whilst the game proceeded apace. One of the opposition eventually took pity and obliged…

4. Harefield Hornet - 17/08/2020

Holebas – brooding, sulky, wickedly crossing and shooting, arguing with the fans at Southampton, moaning at officials, hacking annoying opponents, just generally being a bloody pain in the arse – I absolutely loved him!

Sequel - 18/08/2020

I would love Success to be, well, a success, but he’s never quite lived up to his name. But, think back ten years. Would a young Troy Deeney have fared any better if imported into a top flight team? Probably not, but he became a decent player in a lower division. With a run of games, maybe Isaac would, too.

5. Tim wells - 19/08/2020

Holebas was a marmite player , divided opinions sometimes excellent at his worst awful but the good contributions outweighed the bad for me he scored some cracking goals and provided wxcellent crosses from set pieces shame he didnt get much chance to help at the end he would have battled.

Success been disappointing for the most part but i agree with Matt that there could be a good player in there he has been out for most of the last season with injury a new coach could mean a clean slate and a lower league possibly he could make an impact id at least give him till Jan. Like everyone else i hope we keep Foster and Sarr 2 of the best players

6. Ray Knight - 19/08/2020

Liverpool fans moaning and moaning and moaning about Sarr’s price tag of £40 million. They have won the league and more over the last two years. But they revert to pleading poverty. Absolutely ridiculous. Just glad we are playing hardball. We still win if we retain and move a few others on.

Matt Rowson - 19/08/2020

Hilarious. As if the terms are theirs to dictate.

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