Previously v Millwall
Previously v Millwall
The 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of World War One was commemorated at this game. Our change shirt for the season was based on our kit from 1914 and was worn specially at the game. Before kick off The Last Post was played followed by two minutes silence which turned into applause during which all those in the Rookery Stand held up foil banners to make an enormous display of a poppy on a black and white background.
Martyn Woolford had fired the visitors into an early lead, but Matej Vydra equalised before Daniel Tozser gave the Hornets the lead shortly before the interval. Slavisa Jokanovic’s men were largely comfortable in the second half and made sure of the points when Gianni Munari netted a third.
So perhaps stability doesn’t equal success after all. Watford may be on their fourth manager of the season but they are also on top of the Championship after coming from behind to win and maintain Slavisa Jokanovic’s unbeaten start as the latest incumbent of the home dugout.
It’s been a little while since I was last here; the usual excuses apply. I’ve missed two managers in that time…but if I’m honest, I’ve quietly enjoyed our little spell as the division’s in-joke. No better way to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come under these owners than to wipe the egg from our faces and have a look in the mirror; the in-joke within the in-joke is that far from being the next basket-case to trouble When Saturday Comes’ “Clubs in Crisis” page, we appear to be thoroughly good shape. The point is emphasised by the pre-match remembrance display, indicative of an administration that’s doing significantly more than the bare minimum and is being solidly backed by fans as a consequence. (That’s hardly the main purpose, of course, but there’s no shame in feeling proud of good intentions.)
Shaun Batt’s late effort earned a win for Millwall as Watford missed a chance to narrow the gap to second place. Batt tapped in from a Martyn Woolford header to leave Watford six points behind promotion rivals Hull – beaten at Wolves – with three games to go.
This was the calm after the storm. Following Saturday’s shameful scenes at Wembley, Millwall enjoyed a subdued and peaceful night back on home soil. The vicious fighting among their fans that marred the FA Cup semi-final against Wigan was mercifully not repeated, with the club’s supporters on their best behaviour.
We spent the evening pressing our noses against the toy shop window and staring at the lights inside until our eyes started to water. We had Millwall on the ropes and wilting under pressure, in front of a sparse home crowd comprised of the few thousand people who hadn’t spent all of their money on semi-final tickets and beer. Then news came through that Wolves had taken the lead over Hull…and it was suddenly all laid out before us, opening up in a great surge of hope and optimism and excitement.
I confess, I’ve found all of this a little difficult. In truth, I have a natural resistance to change that’s perfectly willing to defy sense if needs be: no matter how absurd it might seem, there’s part of me that’d prefer the comfortable, flawed, everyday familiarity of Carl Dickinson to the altogether more continental, polished and exotic Daniel Pudil. There’s part of me that hasn’t really got the hang of Manuel Almunia, no matter how fine and handsome and musketeery he might be; part of me that’s desperately eager to damn Fernando Forestieri for being a cheating little fraudster rather than gasp at his magic tricks. There’s part of me that simply doesn’t believe in Neuton, that tries to picture him and then gets lost in the same impenetrable brow-furrowing fog occupied by things like quantum physics, Jupiter’s moons and Sarah Palin. And if we really get to the heart of the matter, there’s an awful lot of me that just wanted Ray Lewington to be the manager forever and hasn’t entirely let go of the idea, even now.