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Monday, 11 February 2013
Silence is Golden
We’re all unique. Every single one of us has a number of attributes that make us different from everybody else. These differences can be incredibly powerful. Over time, little differences have powered evolution.
But differences can work against us too. Sometimes people look for differences to find enemies. Being on the receiving end of such an attitude is unpleasant and leaves you with two options. Depending on the circumstances, you have to choose whether to fight back or ignore it.
Right now, the main thing that distinguishes Watford from other clubs in England is our relationship with the Pozzo family. Their ownership has brought us some much needed stability and financial security off the pitch. However, the most visible benefit of the association is the number of players we have signed on loan from Udinese and Granada.
After the game on Friday night, Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway used his post-match interview to draw attention to our new look squad and claim that such arrangements aren’t right or fair. To many it seemed a strange topic to dwell on. His side had just overturned a two-goal deficit to snatch a point. Surely he would want to focus on praising his players. Instead he turned the spotlight on us.
In the face of such an attack, many Watford fans took to social media and radio to defend our transfer policy and clarify the situation.
Such a reaction is understandable. But it misses the point. Holloway doesn't care whether a year-long international loan counts as a transfer. Nor does he care whether local lads are missing out on the chance to pull on a Hornets shirt. He is looking at the bigger picture.
The battle isn't about who has the most ethical business practices, it's about who gets promoted.
That's all that matters. And it won't just be decided on the pitch.
The New Watford
One of the differences between the pre-Pozzo Watford and the current Hornets team is that we are now a threat to teams who fancy their chances of promotion, amongst them, Crystal Palace.
Last season, Manchester City won the Premiership title on goal difference. That's the margin of success and failure. In professional sport, anything that gives you a competitive advantage is to be exploited.
Following Holloway's outburst, we are now under scrutiny. Footballers are humans too and while some thrive when they are the focus of attention, others struggle.
He's manipulated the puppets in the media and made us the bad guys. And he’ll be hoping that the extra attention affects our form. It might not be nice, but we have to get used to it because as we get to the business end of the season, we can expect more attacks.
It is said that in war, truth is the first casualty.
The fact that we have English, Irish, Swedish, Czech and Swiss players in our squad is irrelevant. Our visible link is to Italy, so we'll probably be accused of diving, gamesmanship, of influencing officials and much more before we head off for our summer holidays.
The fact that we started the game against Palace with only four players from the Pozzo portfolio is irrelevant.
When people have an opinion they tend to adapt ‘reality’ to suit their own viewpoint. So, there is no point entering into a debate or arguing with everyone who has a go at us. They almost certainly aren’t interested in being enlightened.
Just as the players need to show they can deal with the pressure that come with success, so too the supporters have to learn to roll with the punches. Particularly as it will be ten times worse when we go up!
If we respond to every attack, all we do is fan the flames and do Holloway's job for him.
Oscar Wilde was spot on when he observed that the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. So over the next few months, whenever someone has a pop at Watford and tries to distract us from our goal of promotion, let’s accept it as a compliment, ignore them and keep our eyes on the prize.
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