Before Saturday, my co-editor suggested that Mr.Rodgers needed to give us something to cling to. Well this wasn’t so much a damp rope to cling to as a luxury yacht with well stocked galley and attentive staff. Wallop! And there was me suggesting that we were doomed with him in charge. Shows how much I know. Why are you still reading this?
Adrian Boothroyd faces the threat of being banned from the touchline for the play-off final against Leeds United, comfortably the biggest game of his brief managerial career, after being sent to the stands last night following a mass brawl in front of his dugout. The Watford manager sparked mayhem midway through the second half when he flicked the ball away from Fitz Hall with a hand as the Crystal Palace defender sought to take a quick throw-in.
Immense. Amazing. Rock solid. Tense. Iron-willed. Undefeated. Just some of the words we used, once we’d calmed down, to describe the fight on the touchline which was triggered by maybe a little too much management of the game and, in particular, the ball. But if we focus on that, we’ll be overlooking a job done with just as many of the qualities as we brought to the 60th-minute melee.
Ahmet Brkovic’s first goal of 2006, 17 minutes from time, rescued a point for Luton at Vicarage Road to virtually end Watford’s hopes of automatic promotion. It also means Luton’s slim hopes of gaining a play-off spot were extinguished.
So, much as I enjoyed watching our highly impressive, rousing start to the campaign, this, for me, is Adrian Boothroyd’s first landmark of genuine note. The nature of the man, it appears, is such that he wouldn’t greet it with more than a passing shrug and a sharp quip, but it is an achievement nevertheless. Because the consolidation is much more significant than the initial conquest: we might very easily have slipped back into mid-table by now, looking back upon those late summer days as a glorious, short-lived memory. Instead, we’re still here, claiming the right to consider ourselves contenders. That’s a bloody triumph, to my mind.