LATEST EPISODE: Critical Friends
Recorded on the night that it was announced that Billy McKinlay was being replaced by SLAVIŠA JOKANOVIĆ as the Head Coach of Watford FC, Jon Jason and Mike chat about the extraordinary whirlwind that has been the last 37 days in Watford history.
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Tuesday, 6 October 2009
I took my 8 year old nephew to Watford on Saturday, and whilst I could answer most of his questions adequately enough, I must admit his query about shooting struck me as being quite pertinent.
Whilst it is fairly obvious that our record of 10 goals conceded in our last 3 home games is causing us increasing difficulties, our reluctance to shoot has been equally evident against Leicester, Coventry and most recently in this horror show against Cardiff.
The sole encouraging factor is that wer are creating space and opportunities in which we would expect our strikers to shoot. I guess that's half the battle. Oh alright then, a quarter of the battle, but we definitely have been playing some decent football in the final third, play that deserves more output. More shots. And perhaps even, whisper it, more goals...
For those still in any doubt, we were well beaten by a strong and competent Cardiff side, and not even the most hardened, partisan wearer of yellow tinted specs could argue otherwise.
Anyway, you've probably gathered that all this talk about attempts on goal is merely a futile effort to avoid talking about what is going on at the other end of the pitch. We're now shipping goals at an alarming and potentially fatal rate. Admittedly we have had a tough week, with bizarre injuries and illness taking their terrible toll on our already thin squad, but the fact that the aggregate score over the last 3 home games is now 5-10 in favour of the visitors doesn't bode particularly well.
I have used these pages to share my enthusiasm and excitment about the young players coming through and playing their part this year, and I maintain that the future looks bright. However, the past couple of weeks have left us in no doubt that we will need to work hard and stick together to ensure we make it to that future with our Championship status intact.
I'm under no illusion as to our sole objective this year, and you shouldn't be either. We need to stay up. Nothing more, most certainly nothing less. Failure to achieve this single goal would be catastrophic to what is clearly a rebuilding process both on and off the pitch.
We have a team containing some decent players, some good loanees and more than a sprinkling of academy/youth team graduates. We have a management team in place who care about the club, and at Board level we seem to be as stable now as we have been for quite some time. This is a football club, a football team, that we should be able to get behind. A team that we can love, support and identify with. It's going to be a tough season - they always are, but supporting a club like Watford is a two way process. You get out what you put in. If you turn up at The Vic expecting free flowing football, win after win, and a constant influx of high profile players - you're going to be disappointed. If you understand where we as a club are, and what our objectives should be, you'll (more ofthen than not) enjoy it.
Obviously there will be poor days in the office, and Saturday was undoubtedly one such example. I think my My nephew summed it up pretty well with another little gem. "Uncle Mike, I do love Watford, but they haven't been very good today have they? When can I come again?"
Thursday, 1 October 2009
It should have become apparent that we'd be in for a tough night when young William Hoskins defied physics, gravity and every other logic defining law to spoon the ball miles over the Coventry City bar from barely a yard.
A slightly more impressive effort from the ex Rotherham man - a smart backheel from a corner - elicited more groans from the Rookery end (which reminds me, follow www.twitter.com/rookeryend for interesting WFC "tweets") and when Danny Graham missed wonderful chances either side of half time, you just knew there wasn't going to be a happy ending.
And of course there wasn't. We ended up beaten 2-3 by a very average* C0ventry, despite creating enough clear cut chances to win 3 games. Initially, the overriding emotion was frustration. Having managed to battle back from a goal down (again), it was disappointing that we ended up with nothing, and as I blathered on at my long suffering brother, all I could see was three points dropped and a season rapidly turning into what we all feared it might.
By the time I'd got to the car however, I was in more reflective mood.
The Watford FC class of 2009/10 isn't exactly bursting at the seams in terms of numbers or experience, and when the squad was depleted further by suspension, illness and random injury (has anyone other than our American hero ever cut their eye with a contact lens?!) we looked mighty thin on the ground.
The result was that we saw the future. Admittedly Mackay's hand was forced, but Hodson, Bennett, Henderson and Oshodi all featured on Tuesday night, and have to my knowledge all come through the Watford youth ranks. So have more established, experienced names - Doyley, Mariappa, Richard Lee. We should be proud and excited by that.
Our club has gone through an exciting yet turbulent decade, with two near-fatal dalliances with wreckless spending. Whilst we struggle to right the good ship Watford, the emergence of these youngsters prove that somewhere along the line, our club is operating as it should be. Perhaps better than it should be - how many other clubs can boast such a successful conversion rate of their academy players to the 1st team?
Alright, so Liam henderson should have scored at the end, and young Eddie Ashodi looked a bit tentative. Who cares. With a name like that he can do no wrong. These are our kids, our future. And they are a welcome sign that there will continue to be an our Watford.
*Nothing average about Clinton Morrison though. He has to be the most sulky footballer I have ever seen. If he chanelled half as much energy into his game as he does at hurling abuse at his team-mates, his name might appear on the scoresheet a bit more. What a clown. Entertaining to watch though.