Back in July, I wrote an excitable post about the number and range of striking options available to Walter Mazzarri as he took charge of his new team. Given that Stefano Okaka’s brace against Everton are the only goals scored by a Watford striker since Troy notched up his 99th goal against Bournemouth on October 1st, it seems like a good time to revisit that list. Where did it all go wrong?
He will deny it, of course, but it’s hard not to conclude that the pressure of being on 99 Watford goals is getting to Troy. In every game since Bournemouth he’s had chances to reach 100, but he’s muffed them all. It’s a shame, because that cultured lob at West Ham was the goal of a striker at the peak of his powers. If we ever get awarded a penalty (I don’t think we’ve had one yet this season), that may be his best chance to get the monkey off his back.
A shadow of his former self, and now fourth choice when all the forwards are fit. As I’ve written before, I can’t help thinking the illness and subsequent death of his father had something to do with his drastic loss of form. All strikers go through dry spells, but we’re beyond that now. I would send him on loan to a Championship club in January in the hope that he can rediscover his mojo against weaker defences. If that doesn’t work, or if he refuses to go, then sell him.
Currently on a season-long loan to Zulte Waregem in Belgium, where he’s scored one goal in nine appearances. It’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll ever see him in a Watford shirt again, but I don’t think we’ll be negotiating an emergency recall just yet.
I said in July that if we received a decent offer for Matty, he’d be off, and Derby duly obliged. Two goals in 17 appearances to date suggests that he’s not finding Championship defences as obliging as he used to, and that we made the right decision.
Here’s a thing: the big Swede is still a Watford player. He’s been on loan at Djurgaardens in Sweden, where the season ended in November (he scored six goals in 25 appearances), so he should theoretically be back at London Colney now, training with the rest of the Watford squad. I say ‘theoretically’, as I doubt that’s the case, somehow.
The teenage prodigy (he’s still only 19) is on loan at Udinese, where he’s only made five appearances (four off the bench) and has had injury problems. Jon Sinclair’s invaluable player listing at wfc.net says he’s due to join Watford properly next season. We’ll see. Another one for the future.
A handful of exciting substitute appearances and an all-action performance at Middlesbrough have been enough to saddle Isaac with the burden of the fans’ expectations, and with Troy and Iggy faltering, it would be great if he could step up over the Christmas period. But the fact that Walter is so reluctant to give him a start suggests that he still hasn’t put his injury problems behind him.
Another who Walter has used sparingly, until his surprise selection in midweek, suggesting it’s taken him a while to get up to speed. I haven’t seen him play yet, so I can’t really comment. But at the rate the injuries are piling up, he may get his chance soon.
Last year’s under-21 goal machine is currently warming the bench at League One Fleetwood, where he’s only made it onto the pitch three times. Given that he’s the same age as Sinclair and Success, and a year older that Peñaranda, I don’t rate his chances of making it at Vicarage Road, sadly.
Not included in my original list, as he hadn’t signed at that point, but I’m very glad he did. Like Success, injury has limited him to a handful of promising cameo performances so far. If he could get properly fit, he could be a key player in the second half of the season.
So there you go. We still have nine strikers on the books, and yet they’ve only scored seven league goals between them so far. It’s not good enough, is it?
Personally, I’d like to see us line up with a front three of Deeney, Okaka and Success, or Deeney and Okaka supported by Success and Amrabat on the wings. There’s enough muscle and talent there to frighten any Premier League defence. Whether we’ll ever get the chance to see that, though, is the big question.