There are times when you are at a loss for words to describe how you feel after a result and performance like that. We have been here too many times already this season and what made this worse was the fact it was a local derby and you thought that our players, who seem to have struggled with motivation for allot of our Championship games would be well up for this knowing what it means to us fans.
Alas despite a relatively bright start to the match they faded badly and once the host got themselves into the lead there was never a point in the rest of the match that you honest felt we could get back into it. There was one header from wing-back Ngakia that just went wide at the beginning of the second half but apart from that the opposition goalkeeper might as well got his deckchair out such was his lack of requirement.
In isolation a visit to the team sitting in fourth in the table was always going to be a tough ask plus add to that the spice of the local bragging rights coupled with the “Edwards factor” and it had all the hallmarks of it being a difficult afternoon. There is a reason we now sit 11th in the table and that is we can’t string a consistent run of good performances and we just don’t score enough goals.
As soon as we went behind to what was a well worked but highly avoidable opening goal you look around that starting XI and it is not blessed with a huge amount of goals (24 I make it). For me this was the tale of two centre forwards, one is on loan from Premier League Aston Villa and is allegedly worth £15m and the other was signed from Walsall for a fraction of that value. Both haven’t set the scoring charts alight with 6 & 7 respectively however one lead the line with power & commitment, the other could not trap a bag of sand. In Adebayo and his partner Morris that lot had a real focal point and something to play off, for us Davis was isolated with Pedro wandering everywhere and nowhere trying to nutmeg everyone. As much as I feel for Davis he doesn’t help himself, he doesn’t challenge aerially for the ball enough in my opinion and his body language (like most of his teammates to be fair) is not great. I would not be against signing Davis in the summer but not at £15m, perhaps a third of that figure would be closer to the mark however finances being as tight as they will be in the summer I am sure there will be better value out there in the market. Both Adebayo & Morris prove there is value out there if you are willing to look for it and not automatically go abroad. There is an argument that our own Tony Adeyemo is possibly Davis’s replacement in waiting but he is only 18 and it might be too much to ask at this point in his career.
You can’t just blame Davis though for us being so toothless, the whole set up of the team does not allow for attacking football. Yesterday we played with a back 3 which is fine but the two wing backs whose job it is to give us attacking width were just pushed back so we were then playing with a back five add to this the defensive wall of Choudhury and Louza in the “quarterback” role it means at times there are just three Watford players ahead of the ball. Of those three Kone gets pulled deep, Pedro is just all over the show and the aforementioned Davis ploughs a lone furrow. We are so impotent going forward it is sad to watch, in fact it is difficult to watch. We have failed to score in a third of our matches this season which is plainly not good enough but more than that we just don’t look like scoring. Our set pieces are dreadful, we had two corners in the first half both of which hit the first man almost inevitably, we actually attempted a long throw in the attacking third for once but not one Watford player attacked it as it rolled across the six yard box and don’t even get me started on the decision to play an 90th minute free-kick short rather than loading the box with the centre halves! If you are struggling to make chances from open play then your set pieces need to be a weapon, it was for the hosts yesterday who wrapped up the points with a second from a corner we could not deal with. Maybe another signing in the summer we should look at is a set piece coach?
Defensively we are “fine”, there is no doubt both Porteous and Hoedt have been decent additions although the Dutchman in particular had his hands full all afternoon. Craig Cathcart had an appalling first half by his own standards getting turned far too easily on a few occasions but got marginally better in the second. Another thing that is noticeable about us defensively and all over the pitch is our reluctance to press the ball or close down an opponent. I lost count the amount of time I screamed “close him down” at the TV watching our players stand off and let our opponents all the time they wanted on the ball. We don’t get afforded such luxury then why do we allow such luxuries. They were all as bad as each other but Imran Louza in particular was guilty of standing off allot and the game just passed him by. Even the usual combative Hamza Choudhury was very stand-off-ish and the battle of midfield was lost to the hosts. We were just a very distant second best all over the field and it was easy to see the hosts are a very well drilled, committed outfit who all know their jobs where as we are just a dispirit group on individuals who have no idea what they are doing or where they are supposed to be playing. What Edwards has done since he pitched up at the Kennel is simply build on the good work laid out by that loathsome creature Nathan Jones and kept them pointing in the right direction. It is debatable if Edwards had been given more time by Gino Pozzo then we would have been any worse off than we are now albeit we would have the remnants of a plan to get behind as fans. Of course we will never know and I wish Edwards all the best in his future career and abject failure in his current career.
As Watford fans we can only look at our own club but the thought of that lot being promoted and having to swallow all the congratulations and the “fairy-tale story” nonsense that would go with it would make summer seem incredibly long but that is where we are now. Our season is over, play-offs have gone and the season will now just meander to a conclusion. I expect us to cop a few hidings along the way as well because history tells you allot of these players will have their bags packed for the summer long before the final kick of the season. I can’t wait for many of them to leave and a proper rebuild can start, we all want a team we can depend on and be proud of. This current squad is not remotely capable of that and most of them need to go, we need a spine of motivated British players to come in and fight for the shirt and not see our club as a stepping stone to other pastures. Unfortunately that will require the Pozzo model to be disbanded and our club needs to stop being a shop-window for young talent from all over the globe being sold a dream of further riches and ending up at Ewood Park on a cold, wet Tuesday night. I don’t know about all of you (and please feel free to comment) but I want my football club & team back.
I felt that a defeat at Kenilworth Road might act as the catalyst for fans to rally around change, of course there will be those who will be termed as “happy clappers” and just sit there and take it but I want better for all of us. At the absolute minimum we want players who will run through brick walls for us and look like they give a damn but this will require patience and buy in from the top (seems unlikely) and all of the Vic faithful. I can’t stomach too much more of these performances and the fact they served that turd of one against that rabble up the motorway has made it hurt all the worse.
There are still more games to come starting with the return of everyone’s pantomime villain on Good Friday but this feels like a landmark moment in the Pozzo era of Watford Football Club, what the reaction of the fans to players will be is anyone’s guess, maybe some training videos and “we go again” messages on social media will do the trick? It won’t wash with me but then I am just a small voice however if we get together our voice will be heard. I have found this piece one of the hardest to write due to my mixture of anger and upset over yesterday but I hope you have found this as cathartic as I have and I hope it has been at the very least coherent. It may or may not be the same as your point of view but we can all agree on one thing and that is Watford FC is our club so lets get it back to the one we love.
Take care & stay safe