Aidy Boothroyd’s first programme notes.
I was there, obviously. But less so, much less so. That’s not to suggest that I didn’t fully appreciate that this was a vital match for Watford Football Club, nor that I didn’t applaud a courageous, occasionally inspired, and much less deeply flawed team performance that rose to the occasion and deserved to take more from it than mere encouragement. I saw it all, with nose pressed up against the glass, conscious of everything and yet not part of it. When we scored, I heard myself saying “Yes!” and felt myself rising to my feet; the instincts that would’ve done those things in a reactive blur don’t seem to be working properly. I saw it all, and felt only echoes, remote tremors.
Why? I don’t know. This is new to me, all new. What I do know is that, like so many amazing things that happen in football stadia, the total support demanded by Graham Simpson requires the suspension of disbelief. It needs the conjuring up of an “us” from so much that has so little in common; an “us” that encompasses the stands, the dressing room and the directors’ box to become a football club rather than just a PLC with employees and customers. But you can’t put all of that on hold for three weeks – three weeks of exercising absolute power and authority, of claiming leadership, of seizing complete responsibility – then expect to resume where you left off. “Us” is for fifty-two weeks of the year, or not at all. And you can’t generate genuine belief in a long-term plan for survival and eventual prosperity, then demand the same belief in a new approach when you suddenly change your mind.