A bit late I know, but I just wanted to say well done - to Brendan, to the players, to the board, hell, even to the fans. To have got through the past 12 months and come away with a 13th-place finish in the Championship is quite an achievement, all things considered. And to finish with a smile on our faces is, if anything, even more of an achievement.
Last season (2007/08) was, as I kept saying at the time, a very strange season - and so was this season, albeit for different reasons. Above all, because, no matter what was happening in the boardroom or the dugout, the goals kept flowing (at both ends). Who’d have guessed, after the tedium of last season, that Vicarage Road would see more goals than any other Championship stadium? And that the last game of the season would see us so far ahead at half-time that the Rookery could spend the second half yelling ‘Shooooot!’ at Lloyd Doyley every time he got the ball in the opposition’s half? (Mind you, I was so confident that Lloydinho was finally going to break his duck that I put a tenner on him to score. Maybe next season...)
Others have reviewed the season gone by a lot more thoroughly than I can. So for what it’s worth, here are a few things I think Watford need to do to build on the progress made in 2008/09:
1) Sort the pitch out
A few years ago, the club boasted about some new technology they’d used whereby the grass was interwoven with plastic or something, making it stronger and more resilient. I can only assume the plastic melted, because for the last couple of seasons, the Vicarage Road pitch has been a disgrace. I’m sure the Saracens are partly to blame, but I can’t believe it’s entirely down to them that the pitch is bumpy and skiddy, often both at the same time. Bottom line: if we want to play proper passing football, we need to lay a new pitch and look after it properly.
2) Buy Gregor Rasiak
A tricky one, this: reports repeatedly stress that he wants a hefty sum in wages, the sort of sum we really can’t afford these days. Only this morning I read that Sheffield Wednesday have given up hope of signing him for precisely that reason. So I can only hope that he’s developed enough affection for Watford in his time here to take a pay cut, because he makes a real difference to our front line: strong in the air, skilful on the ground, able to hold the ball up and gobble up the slightest of half-chances, Old Greg is the kind of all-round striker we’ve seen all too rarely in recent years. Especially if Priskin buggers off elsewhere (as I suspect he will), we need Rasiak.
3) Give youth a chance
Our youth, I mean. Brendan keeps talking about his passion for developing young players, but so far he’s preferred to give match experience to other clubs’ young players. It’s hard to object to Jack Cork, who is clearly a star in the making and already out of our league. But Bridcutt, Hoyte, Rose - why did these players get game time ahead of the likes of Jordan Parkes and Lewis Young? And how many loans does Theo Robinson have to go on before the Watford hierarchy makes up its mind as to whether he’s worthy of a place in OUR team? I don’t pretend to know whether these youngsters are going to make it, but I do know that we’ll only find out by playing them in the Watford first team in serious competitive games.
4) Keep talking
An obvious point really, but after the secrecy and mistrust of the Simpson-Ashton regime, it’s essential for the new board to keep talking openly and honestly to the fans. We know that there are difficult decisions to made, and that we’re not out of the financial woods just yet. All we ask is that you tell it like it is.