There was much about Watford’s performance that was concerning but nothing terribly surprising, and nothing for which a clear solution presents itself. We knew that we were going into the season with a young side that was going to be dependent on senior players; we’ve already seen, in Cowie’s absence, the impact that removing one of those cogs can have on the whole shape of the side. More of the same today; Jordon Mutch and Stephen McGinn both had reasonable games in the middle of the park but the whole side missed the steadying influence, the aggression, the option, the foot-on-the-ball of John Eustace in the centre. Ross Jenkins might have reminded us of what he best offers, an option not really suited to pairing with the skipper for whom he’d have been the most obvious replacement but for his ankle injury.
BSAD report: As match reports go, this one seems about as pointless as the game itself. That is, it would’ve suited everyone if Ray Lewington had been able to make a phonecall to Colin Lee, negotiate a one-all draw, and save the trouble of a Tuesday night spent watching nonsense and listening to nonsense. And save me the trouble of a Wednesday morning spent writing (about) nonsense. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t entertaining…and, yes, we’ll take a point in the absence of anything better. Next, please….
This was the first home game since the players agreed to a voluntary 12% wage deferral to prevent the club going into administration. The collapse of ITV Digital left many Football League clubs struggling financially but Watford’s situation was particularly grim after the failed gamble of trying to achieve promotion the previous season by appointing Gianluca Vialli and investing heavily in new players.
BSAD report: We’d beaten the bottom side by a single goal. Big deal. The result and, while it was thoroughly entertaining, the game itself won’t live long in the memory. But there was more to it than that. So much more. Whatever else we lacked – and we know that we can play a great deal better – it’s hard to imagine a more committed, determined, bloody-minded Watford performance than this. It was absolutely monumental, a great surge of stubborn, blinkered effort that simply swamped everything else – we approached the game like a fifty mile route-march, ploughing onwards regardless of hills and valleys, pain and fatigue. It was brilliant.
When the Fatboys’ supporters (I’ve tried other nicknames – the Slims, the Normans, the Zoës, the Remixers – but Fatboys just feels most apt to replace Seagulls) responded to our chant of “Going down, going down, going down” with a chorus of “Going bust, going bust, going bust”, I felt my blood rise to fight-level for the first time in the past two weeks. The feelings of resignation swiftly followed by resolve that greeted our financial announcements of the past fortnight were gone, and I became angry for this club, and no longer angry at it. I wasn’t prepared to take anyone else’s word for it, least of all a beered-up posse of seaside hooligans (with due respect to ig who actually has to live down there). Their side had given no indication of bringing anything useful to the party, and it was just our bad timing and bad luck which combined to keep the score at 0-0 for so long, and then 1-0 for the rest of the game.
At seven o’clock, debate is raging in the Estcourt. Whatever his mistakes, I can’t help feeling a little sorry for Luca Vialli, who has so far failed to create a team that can speak on his behalf and is therefore in the position of having every word in every sentence in every interview picked apart. Personally, I’m thoroughly bored by it all…so many opinions, so many personalities, so much guff (and I include this guff, of course) where there should be football.
It’s a long time since I have been able to pack life’s niggles into a box and keep the lid on it all the way through a Watford match. For me, going to football used to be all about leaving the outside world behind for ninety minutes, and immersing myself in a world of yellow and red. Somewhere along the way, the boundaries came down, and the world seeped in; the colours lost their brightness.