report: with NOTHING coming into the gap between the opposition midfield and defence the strikers are playing perpetually with their backs to goal; the ball goes wide, then back to midfield, then wide, then we lose it.
Don’t let me paint this as a crisis. It isn’t, and it doesn’t need to be. But it shouldn’t be taken lightly either, just because the start to the campaign was so exuberant and so refreshing. For the second time, we dropped points at home in a tight game, leaving a striker on the bench with a substitution to spare.
Confident? Only slightly, to be honest. During the summer, I said that I didn’t believe the current squad would be capable of winning promotion – less to do with the quality of the players, more to do with the total lack of strength in depth. I wish I’d changed my mind but I haven’t. We had three YTS players on the bench last night and, while it’s great to see that we have so many young players progressing through the club, that indicates that we’re dreadfully short of options.
More games from 15th October at https://oldwatford.com/tag/oct15/
Taken from 10th August 2010-League Cup First Round, Aldershot Town 0 Watford 3 programme. The date of the match is incorrect and I assume the ‘Around this day in 1984’ was a printing error.
Despite having just 39 per cent of the ball and registering just two shots on target, Watford created the big opportunities in the match but Andre Gray, Danny Welbeck and Craig Dawson were denied as Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson redeemed himself after last weekend’s error against Liverpool.
Watford’s teamsheet read like a classified ad: Desperately Seeking Solidity. Their manager, Quique Sánchez Flores, tried to repair a defence that had conceded 20 goals in their previous seven league matches by changing formation and giving Sebastian Prödl a first league start for 17 months, putting him in the heart of a five-man rearguard. Flores later denied it was his intention to sit deep and hope for counterattacks at home to a newly promoted team; but that is how things panned out. The Blades had most of the ball but were unable to unpick the Watford padlock.
Six months ago, as we entertained realistic hopes of European competition, it would not have seemed credible that we’d go into a match at home to a newly promoted side, even a Sheffield United who have started the season in decent form, not being strong favourites to win.
The main positive from the afternoon was that this was the first clean sheet since February. Our defence has been dreadfully leaky and we looked much stronger with three at the back, although this improvement at the back may have been helped by the opposition being Sheffield United. Still, Prödl had a great game, he is much more of a commanding presence at the back than either Cathcart or Dawson. Kabasele was immense and was named man of the match by the sponsors and thoroughly deserved it.
“We have problems, we have insecurities. We made easy mistakes that give advantage to an opponent. All these things happen when you are a bit down,” Sánchez Flores said. His general criticism soon gave way to a more specific critique however, with the Spaniard suggesting his players had not understood, or failed to act upon, his instructions.
Danny Welbeck, leading the line in his first Premier League start in almost a year, produced Watford’s best effort, the former Arsenal striker drawing a good save from Rui Patricio in the second half, but that was the only time the visitors really looked like scoring.
Wolves’ second took any fight out of us, and there was no praying for minutes as the board goes up, no suggestion of a fightback. Maybe all it would have taken was a goal, home fans suddenly nervous in the closing minutes, we’ll never know. In the same way there are several ways to interpret this game… given this vantage point, given last week, given no wins and such little fight it’s difficult not to be negative.
As I left work on Friday, I had a chat with one of my colleagues about our chances for the weekend. He reminded me that going to football was supposed to be fun. He is so right and, sadly, the games really aren’t fun at the moment. I hope that changes very soon.
Bernardo Silva scored a hat-trick as Pep Guardiola’s side ran riot to clinch their biggest league win since he took charge in 2016. They also hit the woodwork twice and continued to chase further goals until the end, but a record victory eluded them.
Quique Sánchez Flores took out Christian Kabesele and Andre Gray for Dimitri Foulquier and Adrian Mariappa, the manager perhaps wishing he had the roughhouse qualities of the injured Troy Deeney to give Otamendi and Fernandinho a differing challenge to that of Shakhtar Donetsk, whom City coasted past to a midweek 3-0 Champions League win.
There must have been moments out there when Quique Sanchez Flores will have wondered what he might have been doing this weekend had he not taken the call from Watford owner Gino Pozzo earlier this month: sitting on a beach, meeting old friends, undergoing painful dental surgery.
When I sent out the e-mail to our group asking who wanted tickets for this game, I couldn’t help noticing that there were more apologies for absence than usual. I can’t say that I blamed them as the memory of the cup final is still rather raw and, given our start to the season, this was not a game that I was looking forward to.
Quique Sanchez Flores first programme notes from his second spell as Manager.
Watford had the chances during a breathless finale when the outstanding Gerard Deulofeu fired inches off target and Tom Cleverley saw a shot deflect wide off David Luiz before, at the very last, Abdoulaye Doucouré blew a gilt-edged opportunity, shooting too close to Bernd Leno.
And so Quique’s back, and inevitably he’s given a warm welcome because such is the way of things in such situations even if the man in question isn’t a good bloke from recent memory. His first team selection is encouraging in its shape… a return to the 4-2-3-1 of Marco Silva’s brief successful period with Tom restored to the buzzing around role in front of two sitting midfielders, Étienne Capoue stepping into the role vacated by Nathaniel Chalobah after his knee injury. More odd was an extremely conservative bench, no out-and-out striker with Welbeck (reportedly injured in training on Friday) and Success omitted from the squad.