Opinion Piece - A Fan's Conundrum (Jack Foster)
In ten days’ time, I will be attending my first Watford match. I should be excited for it, but I could scarcely imagine a worse time to be a Watford fan. After the 2-0 defeat in the M1 derby, the season feels like it has finally been put to bed. The fans can come to terms with an extended stay in the Championship, but the manner in which the season has played out has us wondering how the team could possibly move forward.
Regardless of unconvincing performances in previous weeks, we all expected that the players would understand the gravity of this particular M1 derby. Not only were we facing our most hated rival, but the game had serious implications in the table for both clubs. It was obvious to every fan that if there was ever a game to pour your heart into, it was this one. To the fans that made the trip to spend an afternoon in the haunted tetanus shack that is Kenilworth Road, I salute you. There is no greater display of passion for a team than to follow them into the most hostile environment. But, of course, the Watford players showed us that it was just another day for them. The impression that I and many other fans get is that this squad wants the season to be over. A number of them will be off to potential greener pastures, and they seem to think they can just ride the wave until that happens. Inevitably, some players from this squad will return next season, but I can’t imagine they have much passion for the club left.
The fans have come to a general agreement Gino Pozzo and Scott Duxbury, as owner and chairman, have created a culture within the club that is devoid of accountability and consistency. For the second consecutive season, Watford have employed three different managers, and current gaffer Chris Wilder already seems to be fed up with the situation he’s been handed. It is widely expected that he will depart at the end of the season, but we barely know if he’ll make it that far, given recent struggles. Because of this uncertainty, the gents of Do Not Scratch Your Eyes have formed the #ParlaciGino campaign in an attempt to create more open communication between club and fans. The has born some fruit, as there will be some sort of conference between Pozzo and fans at some point during the off-season. However, a previous attempt to organize a meeting like this resulted in Pozzo and Duxbury largely pulling the wool over our eyes and creating infighting among the fans. That disaster cannot be repeated under any circumstances.
This brings me to the conundrum mentioned in the title. I will always try to be diplomatic rather than combative. I think that having the label “The Original Family Club” is a very good thing. Everyone should be able to enjoy their day at Vicarage Road, and a part of me wants do just that. At the same time, the state of the club is making us furious, and dissent needs to be voiced. I am skeptical that “Parlaci, Gino” is the message we ought to be sending. I’m afraid that Pozzo believes we will not stand up for what we want for the club, and that he intends to create the same sort of charade with this upcoming meeting. A part of me thinks that “Vaffanculo, Gino”, though it is far more crude, is the sort of message we need to send to make it clear we mean business. I could very well witness another disgusting display when I attend, so perhaps I should boo the team for 90 minutes. On the other hand, we all go to football matches to enjoy ourselves, and I might not be back to Vicarage Road for quite awhile. People who don’t wish to participate in these protests shouldn’t have there experience dampened, and yet the atmosphere in the ground and on the pitch is unlikely to improve until we make our point known. How do I, and the rest of the Hornets faithful, go about achieving it?