Beppe Sannino’s final programme notes.
Championship side Watford scored twice after being reduced to 10 men to secure a 4-2 win against Huddersfield. Keith Andrews headed in a corner after Gabriel Tamas’s 65th minute sending off and Almen Abdi curled in a late right-footed strike to secure the points.
There had been questions before the game, more were raised during the ninety-plus minutes and we’ll get to those, I suppose. But for the moment revel again in that fabulous final half hour or so, which in the manner of a cup-tie blew away all concerns, quibbles, tactics, formations. Primal, ferocious and utterly captivating entertainment. Who could fail to be carried away by it?
While I’ve been writing this report, the news of Beppe Sannino’s departure has broken. In my few encounters with Beppe, I found him a very engaging man, but I hadn’t always been a fan of the way his teams played. There were a lot of dreadful performances last season and the last encounter with Huddersfield was certainly one in which you felt that the players had no respect for the manager. That was also my impression at the end of season dinner. When Beppe took the stage to make his speech, there was little warmth or respect emanating from the tables of players who were just next to us. I was amazed that he was still in charge at the start of the season. The fact that he has now left suggests that the Pozzos have found his replacement. Someone described the contrast of the Zola and Sannino reigns as being from a holiday camp to a boot camp. I hope that the new manager is somewhere in the middle. We have a huge amount of talent in this team, with some organization and discipline we could be unbeatable.
League One Doncaster upset Championship side Watford to secure a place in the third round of the Capital One Cup. Nathan Tyson opened the scoring from the penalty spot against a sluggish Watford, who made a host of changes. The Hornets sparked into life in the 31st minute when Lloyd Dyer scored from a smart flick from Odion Ighalo. But after the break, Doncaster were quickly into their stride and when Liam Wakefield converted on 52 minutes there was no way back for Watford.
The Hornets, who made a host of changes but should still have boasted a team strong enough to advance, paid the price for making a sluggish start in both halves as Rovers scored early in both periods.
Ahhhh, the early rounds of the League Cup, eh? That comfortable familiar dullness, the football season’s equivalent of a Sunday afternoon repeat of Last of the Summer Wine… yes it’s fist-chewingly tedious but at least you know where you are.
Doncaster gave a warning of what was to come in the second minute as Bennett found Tyson on the right whose shot flew just past the far post. At the other end, Vydra cut inside but his shot was blocked. Doncaster had another decent chance as Coppinger fired just wide.
So, here we are, four games in, three wins and one defeat, and the manager’s job on the line. Notably, the pressure comes from inside rather than outside; these are questions being asked by the players rather than the fans. There’s no sense of mutiny around Vicarage Road, nothing more than a familiar impatient tetchiness, common to all modern football grounds. But you look at that squad – a winning squad, for pity’s sake – and you can’t see any structure at all.
When I entered the ground, Macca was being interviewed by Luther. What a joy to listen to my two all-time favourite players chatting. When they finished, I made my way around to the Lower Rous to give Don a bag that he had left in the West Herts. As I reached the disabled area, Don was coming to greet me and pointing rather urgently behind me. I turned and there was John McClelland looking exactly as he did in the 80s. I immediately turned into a gibbering star struck fan. I managed to blurt out that I’d loved watching him play and went to shake his hand and found myself being warmly hugged. It is quite possible that my feet will never touch the ground again.
Having been separated following the play-off final defeat when Vydra joined West Bromwich Albion on loan from Udinese, the Czech international was reunited with Troy Deeney and both players scored in the first half.
The final whistle went to great applause from the home fans. We had been masterful in the first half and, even if Bolton got back into it a bit in the second, it was a convincing win. Even better than that, we had quality all over the pitch. It was a joy to witness. The horror show that was the end of last season is now a distant memory. I’m really trying not to be over-optimistic, but I can’t help feeling that this could be a very exciting season indeed.