In previous failed campaigns, these games have been like cup ties in which we might pull off a giant-killing, something to take with us back downstairs. Here, the announcement of the Chelsea teamsheet – him, him, him, him, him, him, him, him, him, him and him, with the other ones on the bench – might’ve led you to expect similar, whatever the league table might say. But none of that: as the game settled down into a pattern, it was our pattern, our style, that increasingly held sway.
Rotherham is not an obvious place to dig for salvation in the Premiership. They are bottom of League One. But last month’s recruits, Will Hoskins and Lee Williamson, did not look out of place in Watford’s colours. It said as much about their new club as the normally voluble Aidy Boothroyd could manage afterwards.
At the finale, two men in black overcoats stood on the sidelines. Neither exuded happiness, but Sam Allardyce at least could claim relief, having bagged his first win in five weeks. After a triumphant December yielded a manager-of-the-month award and five straight league wins, a dreadful January ensued for the Bolton manager with just two points in four games. And Vicarage Road was hardly a popular destination for Bolton, 12 visits had previously brought just one win. For Aidy Boothroyd’s side, a win, as always, was needed. There were the eight new signings to justify and the small matter of scraping the side off the bottom of the table. Preceding the midweek Manchester United whipping, Watford had managed two wins on the trot and were hoping to continue their handiwork.
The game didn’t start as much as detonate, and for the first forty-five minutes we were carried away by a torrent of action. Only two sides playing inventive attacking football and defending like goons can generate excitement like this.
It’s hard to explain: the football dumb, simple, slapstick, shambolic but this is better, for me, than eking out a Coventry existence in the Premiership where only your mistakes make any headlines. My team have got silly weaknesses, but…well…so have I. I quite like it that way.
Game was postponed from Tuesday 28th January.
The game was postponed from Tuesday 28th January. The crowd of 34,099 is our highest ever home attendance.