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End of Term Report 2022 – Part 4 13/06/2022

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

15- Craig Cathcart

My six year-old niece wants a suitcase for her birthday.

A suitcase is a pretty functional thing.   Its purpose is uncomplicated but not easy, not to be taken for granted.  We’ve all had a shit suitcase.  It can be gaudy, expensive, flash, but that’s not really the idea.  If you’re buying a suitcase primarily as a fashion item you’re doing it wrong.

And it’s absolutely vital.  Try going on holiday without one. A necessary condition if not a sufficient one for a successful trip.  If you’ve got a reliable suitcase that does the job you’re unlikely to need or want to prioritise replacing it.

The problem comes when it no longer does the job.  And…  there are signs here.  The zipper beginning to jam, perhaps, the pull-out handle no longer works.  Craig has been a bastion of dependable, sensible honesty, of reliably being in the way throughout his time at Watford but made more mistakes last season than I’ve seen him make before.

He’s not alone in that.  Heaven knows it’s hard to look elegant in a season like that one, and worth noting that he was involved in all the good stuff too such as it was – all the wins, all the clean sheets.  Nonetheless, Craig will turn 34 during next season and looks a bit wobbly for the first time.

Next Season:  Versatile, humble, good bloke, will put a shift in.  Stick.  Probably.

19- Moussa Sissoko

Moussa Sissoko is great.  Works hard, drives forward.  Takes responsibility, scraps, battles, great stamina, tidy, unflashy.  Can’t shoot for toffee, but you can’t have everything.  Add to that a gazillion caps in a super-competitive French midfield and long experience at the top of the game and you’ve got a great signing for a promoted side.

And in a better squad, in a more complete midfield he might have been much more successful.  As it was we were out of necessity looking for both leadership and creativity towards a player not really geared to deliver either of these things.  Which isn’t entirely his fault… certainly, I never saw his head drop, I never saw lack of interest or energy or any hint of too-good-for-thisness.  And as above, in a side where others were providing the leadership and the creativity, a squad like the 2019 squad for example with Deeney and Gomes and Capoue and Pereyra….  he’d have been a successful and worthy addition, more effective for not having to do unnatural jobs.  As it was, he’s likely to leave us with thanks and an unmemorable C+ on his report card.

Next Season:  More than capable of doing a job but more a lieutenant than a captain, a return to France seems most likely.

21- Kiko Femenía

We always used to say about Lloydinho that if he could pass straight he wouldn’t be playing for us, such were his other capabilities.  Similarly Kiko’s dodgy GPS when it comes to defending balls coming over his head (a bit like trying to use Google Maps to find your way to whichever pub as you come out of a busy underground station) has surely restricted his progress since his inhuman stamina and attacking verve are both beyond dispute.

But add to that a  resilience of character that saw Kiko persistently chip away in defiance of the team’s (and occasionally his own) wobbly form, often coax the most effective performances out of his ally on the right flank, Ismaïla Sarr and almost uniquely maintain a healthy supply line with six assists from right-back and you’ve got a player who would still have been an asset in a Premier League squad, let alone in the Championship next season.

Next Season: Right wing-back in the Championship would suit him and us down to the ground, you’d have thought, but reports linking us with Rob Edwards’ former charge Kane Wilson (who since signed for Bristol City) add weight to the suggestion provided by the rather odd listing of half a dozen interested Spanish clubs that Kiko is heading back to Spain.  We’ve heard that before, mind.

22- Samir

Samir is a bit of an odd character.

Because he did make us better, defensively.  Or rather… his arrival coincided with a general improvement in our defensive play if also with that of Roy Hodgson, more or less.  Everything’s relative of course, there were still bad days for him and the team in this regard but certainly he was demonstrably the most effective of the central defenders that we tried out.

Thing is, I wouldn’t recognise him if I passed him in the street.  And I was at most of those outings, behind the Rookery if with my head in my hands a lot of the time, there’s no excuse really.  This reflects his low profile and the effort required to engage with the team, any team, on a miserable run.

And the fact, I guess, that he always seemed destined to be a short term hire.  A contractor, a locum, good enough to come in and fill in capably before quietly packing up his desk and moving onto the next task.  There’s a lot of criticism of our “faceless mercenaries”, some individuals deserve such disdain but Samir did pretty well in a poor side.

Then, we expect, he’ll leave.

Next Season:  Udinese, one presumes.


1. John Smith - 13/06/2022

You are spot on with your assessments Matt as are your match reports.
The first impressions of our new coach are good but there is a lot of ins and outs before we know the make up of our new squat. In the meanwhile keep up the excellent work.

Matt Rowson - 13/06/2022

Thanks John.

2. Tim Caldicott - 13/06/2022

Would love to see Sissoko stay, he’d batter the Championship.

James - 13/06/2022

Maybe up to 80k reasons a week why he won’t stay imho.

Would like to see more evolution than revolution to allow Rob and club finances time. Kiko and Craig (suitcase only needs to be good enough for regular travel to the North W) fit that bill.

Again thanks for the excellent thoughts Matt.

Matt Rowson - 13/06/2022

cheers James

3. Jeff - 13/06/2022

I absolutely share your Sissoko assessment. In a half decent side he’d have been outstanding. He never hid either which would have been easy to do.

Those clubs in Spain on the Kiko hunt might want to investigate a second right back to cover his physical fragility?

crisb - 13/06/2022

that is the main reason to let Kiko leave imho. He simply cant handle the demands of a whole season, let alone one where we’re playing twice a week for large chunks of it.

4. iamthesunking - 13/06/2022

Not long until fixtures are announced!

Matt Rowson - 13/06/2022

Deeply insensitive ;). Some of us have to wait another week…

iamthesunking - 13/06/2022

I know. That’s “not long” …! 🤣

5. Jez Fayerman - 13/06/2022

Sissoko a funny one for me. Clearly he’s a very good player, and despite the rumoured wages, never seemed to be just collecting his pay cheque. But why make him captain? There might not have been many obvious alternatives, and that was part of the problem, but Clevs, for example would have made a fine club captain, even if not playing every week. Troost, Foster or even Kucka seem more natural leaders than Moussa.

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