Sunday, 30 October 2016

Not angry, just... irritated

Yesterday’s game against Hull was hugely irritating; for Watford to be so dominant and yet fail to get a shot on target is the kind of performance that drives fans mad. Most irritating of all is the thought of how good this Watford team could be, if the many obvious talents it contains could just knit together a bit better. And yet we’re seventh in the table, having kept three clean sheets in a row. I realise that it looks churlish to complain.

We’ve been here before, of course. Last December, Quique’s team were riding on the crest of a wave, scoring goals and winning matches they weren’t expected to, and it looked like the only way was up. We all know what happened next, so I’m reserving judgement for now.

In the meantime, to give vent to my frustration, here are five more things about Watford that I find irritating at the moment:

1) Lack of fixture congestion
One of the wonderful things about being in the Premier League, we’re told, is the chance to play all these exciting games against great teams. Except it isn’t, is it? Yesterday’s match was our first at Vicarage Road for 28 days, and it’s another 21 till the next one. So that’s a 49-day period with just 90 minutes of football for home fans to enjoy – 90 minutes against an opponent that packed the midfield and showed minimal attacking intent.

2) Woke up one morning, almost missed the game
It’s not exclusive to the Premier League, but the moving of kick-off times is a major irritant. Midday on a Sunday for a home game against Stoke next month? And then the away game in January against the same team moved from a bank holiday afternoon to the following evening? Others have complained far more eloquently than I can about this issue, so let’s just register it and move on.

3) The lost boys
I really miss the days when any Watford team that took the pitch included at least a couple of homegrown players, and it would be nice to think that we can roll out the “he’s one of our own” chant again one day.

I get it, of course. At the level we’re now playing at, we need greater skill and experience than any youngster produced by our Academy is likely to possess. In summer 2015, the transfer policy deliberately prioritised older players with the nous to keep us up for that first crucial season in the Premier League, and this year we’ve apparently got the oldest team in the division.

It doesn’t help that, judging by what I read about Harry Kewell’s under-23 ‘development’ squad, they would struggle to beat Wealdstone at the moment. If the aim of that set-up is for young players to learn lots of different ways of losing to clubs with inferior resources, they’re doing a great job. But it’s hard to see any of those youngsters bridging the gap to the first-team squad any time soon.

4) What’s the score?
Why don’t we get a full set of half-time scores from all four divisions (plus Scotland) any more? The other Premier League scores are read out, and maybe the Championship if we’re lucky, and that’s it. I used to hate that when it happened at away grounds (usually at clubs that considered themselves too grand to look downwards – Leeds springs to mind), and now we’re showing the same arrogance.

English football consists of four professional divisions, and Watford should celebrate that heritage, which we’ve been part of at every level in the not so distant past. The examples of clubs like Portsmouth, Bolton and Coventry show that it would be foolish to assume we’ll never find ourselves back in the lower leagues again.

Besides, I miss the chance to cheer when it’s announced that Luton are losing at half-time.

5) Z-Ca-
One tradition the club has, thankfully, maintained is the playing of the Z-Cars theme when the teams run out. Well, sort of. We get the first verse or so as the players make their way from the tunnel to the silly branded arch they have to line up in front of, and then the music abruptly switches to something modern and pompous, destroying the mood. I miss that bonkers solo in the middle (is it a clarinet?) more than I can express.

You can see the thinking. Playing Z-Cars is a sop to the fans (especially old gits like me), but it’s the sort of thing the club would prefer to keep to a minimum in the shiny modern world of the Premier League.


Colin McBain said...

The Prem is a drag waiting for the next game! I think, being Football junkies we have been hooked on getting our hit of two games a week in the EFL days. Now we are experiencing withdrawal symptons. Need another cup run to fill the spaces and stop this silly idea of breaking for internationals. Would be good idea I think, to to have a winder break for all clubs and play 5 internationals qualifyers in the winter break.

Anonymous said...

I used to love hearing Z Cars which even now generates a frisson of excitement. However I think we should now ditch and select something more modern that everyone can sing along with. Having to listen to Z Cars at Wembley as our anthem last season was, frankly, embarrassing, Very much time to move on.

Simoninoz said...

Dear Anonymous,
I beg to differ. Z Cars is Watford. Exiled as I am on the other side of the World it's the sound of that tune playing as Troy leads out the boys that makes me lacrimose before every game televised here in Australia. For just a moment I am back in Hertfordshire and I am 40 years younger. Sporting teams ignore their roots and their traditions at their peril.

TimT said...

Thanks Simon, you saved me the trouble of replying. Much as I love Watford playing in the PL, there's a danger of forgetting who we are and where we came from - the point I made about the half-time scores is a perfect example.

Simoninoz said...

Sometimes you can tell a bad idea by the company it keeps. Didn't Bassett ditch Z Cars memory....the Superman theme? Or am I slandering him?

Fred Harrington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred Harrington said...

Teams go through these ups and downs. From what I have seen, its about the bounce back and that usually comes from a place of passion and remembering where we came from.

Fred H |