Friday, 18 April 2014

Resilience, Focus and Bravery.

Hello and welcome.

Having previously written a couple of fairly well received articles that Vital Watford kindly shared, I thought I'd post my latest wittering via my own page and see how we go.

Out walking the mutt this morning, with the sun shining and my thoughts immediately turned to the weekend and of course Watford FC. Not only the impending fixture with Ipswich Town but as is often the way with me, to the ups, downs, the whys and what fors surrounding the season to date and visions for the future.

As my mind wandered through a myriad of scenarios of what could have been, the reoccurring theme, as to why we are not where the majority thought we would be at this stage of the season (when they were asked last summer), was that of resilience, focus and bravery (in fact, the lack thereof).

I think it is clear to many who watch, week in week out, that Beppe Sannino has done a grand job of halting and indeed reversing the tailspin we were in during the final days under Gianfrano Zola.

We have become harder to beat, particularly at home and with that, Beppe Sannino has, for me, earned a crack at a full season's assault on promotion but that will not come to fruition unless there are some changes. A little in personnel but more in attitude.

In goal, Manuel Alumina, a mentally fragile keeper throughout his career in England, had arguably the best season of his life, during 2012/13's run to Wembley and was deserving of the number 1 shirt on the opening day of the current campaign. A thoroughly decent man and a fantastic keeper on his day, 2013/14 has been a bit of a nightmare for him and it is just not feasible that a keeper making so many errors (especially at this stage of his career), can be first choice for a team aiming for promotion. If he stays it must be as second choice.

Jonathon Bond should go out on loan to a decent League One side or perhaps a Championship side with less lofty ambitions than Watford. If this happens, Watford FC must, as much as possible, make sure the loan club guarantees Bond a full season of first team football. 

I believe in Bondy and rather than make the sort of mistakes that a keeper of his age will inevitably make, in a Watford shirt, he can do it elsewhere, learn and come back to Watford to be number one, with 40 odd games at a decent level under his belt.

In the meantime, I feel that Watford should go out and get a Jussi Jaaskelainen, a Brad Friedel or a Mark Schwarzer on a 1 year deal. All keepers sitting around on the bench at their respective clubs. Keepers who are not going to impede the vision of Bond's career path. These chaps are all mentally tough, vastly experienced and leaders. Perhaps one of them would like to pick the splinters out of his arse and have one last crack at glory?

Marco Casssetti has been better at centre back than he has been at wing back this season but the fact remains that the legs are not what they were and perhaps the worry over what happens next (contract up at the end of the season and his family have not joined him in England) has, perhaps, accelerated more uncertainty into his game. Rather than cajoling, rallying and leading the back line, I have often noted him bawling out his team mates after a lapse, the arguing often continuing long after 100% focus should be back on the game. As with Manu, I have huge admiration and respect for Marco. In general, I have thoroughly enjoyed his contribution to the Watford cause but think that, as this season ends, so should his career in England.

Tommie Hoban is a young man I envisage filling the Cassetti shaped gap and more. Although appearing ungainly at times, he is strong both on the floor and in the air. He brings to mind a young Tony Adams and like Adams, he suffered a huge setback just as his career got going. For Tony, it was being ripped apart by Marco van Basten and the gang at Euro 88 and being depicted as a Donkey by the merciless tabloid press. For Tommie it's been a very long injury but one he fortunately seems fully recovered from.

Tony Adams came back from his Euro hell to captain Arsenal to the league title the very next season. If Tommie wants it enough, he can similarly take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn what appears to be a genuine natural defensive football talent, into something more.

He is a Watford captain in the making and with the mercurial Angella alongside him and with Beppe perhaps having an eye on 4-4-2 for next season, Tommie can be the rock the defence is built on. He appears a quick learner and with the likes of Fitz Hall and Lloyd Doyley still around, he has decent, no nonsense defensive role models to learn from. The defensive line needs to be braver. Tommie can hopefully lead by example.

If Watford can keep the majority of the current squad for the next campaign and naturally address the metal fragility that stems from the keeper through the heart of the defence, then the future is bright.

Communication should become less of an issue, as the Coach especially, fast-tracks his learning of English.

Signing up Daniel Tozser for at least a further season, will be a massive piece of business, given how quickly he has settled and the return of Almen Abdi...... well, it doesn't need me to tell you.

As much as I currently refuse to contemplate a Premier League side picking off our brilliant talisman, Troy Deeney, my mouth waters at the (perhaps distantly rumoured) prospect of MatÄ›j Vydra returning with a huge point to prove, following his West Brom nightmare.

What I hope does not happen, is that we continue with the recent policy of throwing a lot of players at the head coach, hoping something sticks. Of course we must use the resources available via our relationship with Udinese and Grenada and of course via the domestic avenue but in a much more measured way.

We can hope, following this season's merry-go-round in the transfer market, that future signings are on more of a 'horses for courses' basis (rather than supermarket sweep style). Sannino seems like a guy who will speak his mind and have some influence over who comes and who goes. Which is a must, as a director of football and head coach should work together to achieve their goals. It doesn't work unless there is a happy overlap in the two roles.

It's no surprise that during Beppe's tenure, the squad has been streamlined, by way of letting players surplus to requirements go out on loan (some will not return) and results have been ok with a more settled and compact 20 odd players to pick from.

Undoubtedly, there will be comings and goings in the summer and we wait in anticipation but ultimately, the continuation of the instilling of resilience, focus and bravery into the mind-set of the available personnel, will be as key as any physical signing.

Beppe Sannino, I am not afraid to admit, has my unwavering support and I am very much looking forward to what comes next.

There! Got that off my chest.

You can also follow myself and my son, Aidan's Watford related ramblings on Twitter @hoganwatford

Wishing you all a very happy Easter and 3 points tomorrow.

Many thanks for reading and feel free to share.



  1. Nice one Paul. Have to agree with all that. We need our defensive boys to be throwing themselves in the way of everything. Lloyd Doyley does that and wish it had been him and not Ekstrand in the way of the shot that Almunia muffed in last weekend. Even with results mostly going our way, so far this weekend, it is more likely we'll be having to go again in this league next season. To go up we need to play and be focussed until that final whistle, every game. I Like the way you just go at it and don't try to be fancy in your writing. Good stuff and look forward to more of your Hornets related ramblings as they come. Thanks, Ed.

    1. Many thanks for reading GB and thanks for your comments.

  2. Nice one. Not 100% sold on Sannino yet but getting there. Have to admit that when rattling my brain for a better alternative, given the club's set up, I am hard pushed to identify anyone, so am willing to give Sannino the first half of next season to show he truly is the man for the job. He has done ok. Regarding Tommie Hoban, he should play every game now until end of season and I do like the idea of a loan for Bondy next season and a better veteran than Almunia doing a year. You make good points. COYH!

    1. Many thanks for reading Stevo and thanks for your comments.

  3. You just brilliantly echoed my own thoughts ! Happy easter to you and your family ,now get out of my head ;)

    1. Heh! Adrian. Have a great Easter yourself and I promise to say out of your head..... At least until after the final whistle today ;)