MATCH REPORT – Watford 0 Preston North End 0 (Jason Rose)
This was the quintessential “bore draw” and to be perfectly honest even if we were still at the Vic now I don’t think we would still have served up a worthwhile shot let alone a goal.
First things first we need to talk about our opponents Preston who set their stall out from pretty much minute one that they wanted a draw and to try and nick a goal on the break or from a set piece. Their goalkeeper took pisstake timewasting to a whole new level and his eventual booking in the 85th minute was just an insult to all our intelligences. I was very disappointed in the refereeing performance because he really should have stamped it out in the first half let alone waiting until deep into the second to start doing something about it. One minute of added time at the end of the first half was a joke and there should have been more than 6 minutes shown at the end after a raft of substitutions, injuries and visiting shit-hoursery. The officials did not have the best of afternoons however that does not explain the atrocious performance from those out there in yellow.
It has become quite tiresome watching Watford at the Vic this season and this was another drab afternoon against another bog-standard Championship side. We lacked either the guile or imagination to open Preston up and apart from a snapshot from Pedro, another one from Sarr & a half chance for sub Davis there was little to get you out of your seat. I genuinely don’t know what they do in training during the week and I actually wonder if they are coached at all! There is pattern, no structure to our attacks and don’t even get me started on our set pieces.
It truly feels that Bilic just throws our attackers at the wall and see what sticks. It is an absolute mess and the fact we score so few goals with the options we have is an indictment of Bilic’s ability to get a tune out of any of them. I also wonder whether we scout the opposition because in what universe did Bilic think that playing Araujo against two man-mountains in the Preston centre halves? I felt sorry for Araujo and it is not his fault that he also had a lack of decent service coming into him.
It clearly was not working and why Bilic did not have the balls to change it after half an hour just shows how poor his in game management is. I would have taken either Sema or Sarr off and put Davis on up top with Araujo. It was all too easy for the Preston defence and they protected their keeper with ease. With news coming out of the club after the match that Sarr had been vomiting before & at half time you have to question the decision to allow him to play at all, again this decision is at Bilic’s door. We are struggling to get any consistency out of Sarr when he’s fully fit let alone when he sick. Another poor decision from out Croatian head coach and more ammunition to those of us who think he is not the right man for us.
The problem every home game for us is because we do not start games quickly we invariably have to try and win the points in the last 45 minutes which is not a good strategy. It has happened time and time again this season and I cannot believe this has not been addressed yet in any way shape or form. There is a lethargy around the team and if we are ll honest in the stands as well.
I love everything the 1881 has given us atmosphere-wise since their inception in the wake of the Play Off final defeat to Palarse but they are so quiet these days. There are no flags or banners in the Rookery and the chanting always drops after 5 to 10 minutes. Now I know there is argument to say the players need to give us something to shout about and that all of us have a responsibility to get behind the lads but it is just so hard to get excited about anything being served up in front of us. As Hoedt stood over the goal-kicks there was some audible moaning about it and I think the Watford public are just getting a bit tired of this version of Bilic-ball. We don’t create concerted pressure on our opponents and it all adds to the general sense of dissatisfaction among the fans. It is really quite boring being a Watford fan right now.
I am at a loss to know where we go from here, we sit 9th in the table and are slipping away from the play-off places with each passing match. I know I have not spent much time talking about the match but that is because there was so little to get your teeth into. The defence played well enough although it could be argued this was Hoedt & Porteous’ least impressive outing together however a clean sheet is a clean sheet. Bilic recalled Craig Cathcart back into the team to play him at right back only for our usually reliable captain to put in one of his worst performances of his Watford career. It was truly like he had his boots on the wrong feet, he was that bad! James Morris was solid if unspectacular at left back and can count himself unlucky to be taken off at half time in order to play Ken Sema is a sort of wing back role. Defensively we are fine and the additions have no doubt helped but it the transition from defence to attack which is just so slow and ponderous.
Once again Hamza Choudhury was the linchpin in midfield and was joined by Imran Louza but both of them were far too deep to have any real effect on the game. The gap between them and the forwards was a chasm and although Joao Pedro is supposed to be the link he was drifting around too much to be effective. The boy really does try and there are moments of stand out quality from him but far too often he takes the wrong option or tries something ludicrous for the position he gets himself in. His backheel on the edge of the box with 5 minutes to go is an example of that when there was an easy ball out side. I absolutely can’t fault his commitment but I just wish he would play closer to the centre forward (be it Davis or Araujo) because it’s the only way we are going to see the best of him before he inevitably is sold in the summer.
Following him out of the exit door will no doubt be Ismaila Sarr and as mentioned before he had another uninspiring afternoon although that could be explained away by his sickness. I think there is affair chance we will have to buy a whole new forward line for next season because you can’t imagine the club will take up the option on Keinan Davis who came on at half time for Araujo and put in another physical performance, he also missed another presentable chance meaning it still just four goals for him this term which is not a good return for any striker.
However you could argue that any striker would score goals the way we play under Bilic because the ball is put in the box so infrequently that chances are a premium. You will certainly feel the theme in this report and that it is I feel we are going nowhere very fast under Bilic. I genuinely thought his experience of the Championship would give us the edge over our rivals, instead we seem so rigid in everything we do that we are in danger of this season petering out with a whimper because of the way he sets us up and has not addressed allot of the problems in the way the team starts matches.
The performances have got steadily worse since the World Cup break and the return of the injured players has not galvanised us in the same way that the introduction of some of the Academy players did in January. I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if Bilic is given his cards by Gino during the week but at the same time I can still imagine him in charge at Loftus Road next Saturday. I want him to succeed so much but it is getting harder and harder to get behind him as a coach.
Lets see what this week brings. Take care and stay safe