Lloydinho and Company

Posted by on Apr 25, 2010 in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Nigel Gibbs’ waving to all four corners of the ground and a perhaps overly gracious treatment of that imposter Triumph from BHaPPY’s Matt Rowson should not mask the fact that Watford performed excellently to save their Championship skins yesterday. True, Reading were woeful, but that’s largely because the old style pressing game employed by their hosts, within the framework of a brusque 4-4-2, did for players who wanted a whole lot more time on the ball than they were ever going to get. It was a full side that Reading fielded and they were most certainly up for the game, but once Adam Federici decided to advance but a miserly yard off his line to deal with the threat of Danny Graham, last orders were called.

Graham was great throughout, barring a late blaze skywards that would have produced the first Vicarage Road hat trick for 13 years. He and Heiðar Helguson caused immense problems for a shaky Reading backline, where Zurab Khizanishvili was overly casual and Andy Griffin had his first bad game for the club. They were supplemented by a midfield of solidity in which John Eustace in particular did a limpet like marking job on the ineffective Gylfi Sigurðsson and wide men Jon Harley and Don Cowie tucked inside with discipline, never a duo to push the ball forward and make for the byline, but darned hard to bypass for the Reading wingers. The fourth midfielder, on loan Henri Lansbury, has a tendency to prance a bit too much, but kept possession without bother, providing just enough of the unexpected to keep his front men happy. The absent Tom Cleverley, bid farewell on the programme cover, was scarcely missed.

But the man who really caught my eye on the day was Lloyd DoyleyLloydinho – the proud possessor of a goal of the season award and the complete negater of the Jimmy Kébé threat on this occasion. Doyley has been around for quite a few seasons now and it suddenly dawned on me yesterday what I had perhaps known all along: he’s actually really very good. Equally adept yesterday was Lee Hodson at right back – if returning anti-hero Jobi McAnuff had let his head drop anymore, he would have needed a shovel to dig up the pitch. Elsewhere in the rearguard, Aidy Mariappa and the Gargantuan Martin Taylor, as well as keeper Scott Loach enjoyed a panic free afternoon.

Malky Mackay deserves credit for keeping things basic on the day and easily countering the relegation threat. One or two smart loan signings and next year should be a more comfortable one for the ‘Orns.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

15 Comments

  1. scarf
    April 26, 2010

    Doyley has always been a solid performer whenever I've seen him, too. Watford's problem is – as ever – strength in depth. When they have everyone fit then they're a decent outfit; when they don't, they aren't. They had everyone fit on Saturday and as such performed well. I expect a similar story next time round – their finances just aren't good enough for anything better than survival in the Championship at the moment, unfortunately.

    Reply
  2. Lloyd
    April 26, 2010

    I'd echo scarf's comment in regards to Watford — I don't think they can do much but firefight at the moment. Even if they do get some good loanees in, they'll only be replacing the ones they've lost.

    They do seem to have great spirit though and Pompey and Hull are probably going to give everyone a head start, so survival is eminently attainable if they can deal with their own financial problems.

    Maybe I should shut up, and just let them enjoy the moment though! Congratulations 'orns.

    Reply
  3. Matt R
    April 26, 2010

    Thanks for that, chaps. As has been well documented we've had our problems and survival should be celebrated for the achievement that it is, in context.

    Two successive summers of fire sales have left us with a parlous squad – as scarf points out, strength in depth a real problem. I would agree with Lloyd's prognosis of next season also, although with a number of big contracts coming to an end this summer the “restructuring” is further on than it might be. Nathan Ellington, alas, still in contract until summer 2011…

    But our recruitment has been very very good over the last eighteen months or so. Not flawless, but a very high success rate given the market we're operating in (Mike Williamson, Don Cowie, Danny Graham, Martin Taylor all look decent signings at worst, Will Buckley and Stephen McGinn promising).

    As for Lloydinho… he's finally achieved cult status after years of occasionally veering towards boo-boy territory exacerbated by wayward distribution. He's a terrific defender though, and continues to improve all aspects of his game.

    Reply
  4. Matt
    April 26, 2010 Reply
  5. Matt R
    April 26, 2010

    And… the first Vicarage Road hat trick BY A WATFORD PLAYER for 13 years. Andy Johnson, during a particularly painful visit by Crystal Palace, is one to have done so in another shirt since, there may be others. Kevin Phillips, whose first Watford (and League) goal was at Elm Park incidentally, was the last Watford hat-trick.

    Reply
  6. Matt
    April 26, 2010 Reply
  7. Lanterne Rouge
    April 26, 2010

    Sorry for the inaccuracy Matt – I guess the Observer misquoted you yesterday on the hat trick issue. I remember that Elm Park strike from Phillips in a 4-1 win for Reading – the now forgotten Uwe Hartenberger scoring one of Reading's goals.

    Reply
  8. Matt R
    April 26, 2010

    Didn't get the paper yesterday, but it's quite possible that I miscommunicated the facts also. They always manage to ring me just as I've completely forgotten that they were going to, so am invariably unplanned.

    I was at the 4-1 at Elm Park. The same day that Man United put nine past Ipswich. The other memory is of Lee Nogan diving to get Nigel Gibbs, no less, sent off. He became the first play to receive three red cards for the club, although this one was rescinded on the basis that the ref noted that Nogan was a horrible little scrote and kicking him was fair enough.

    Either that or he watched the replay and realised he'd never touched him. One of the two…

    Reply
  9. Matt
    April 26, 2010 Reply
  10. Lanterne Rouge
    April 26, 2010

    I remember when Lee Nogan signed for us and after a 2-0 defeat at the New Den that same season, I turned to a friend and proclaimed him to have “no discernible attributes”. A few games later, he had been banging them in as we marched to the play off final.

    Reply
  11. Ben
    April 27, 2010

    Cleverley and Lansbury were both great loan signings – Helguson's been useful too. I've been surprised at how easily Williamson has slotted into our defence, but with Martin Taylor performing well at Vicarage Road it doesn't seem like the Hornets are exactly missing him.

    Reply
  12. Lanterne Rouge
    April 27, 2010

    Really impressed with Williamson at Newcastle. Portsmouth were probably too quick to discard him. Martin Taylor is pretty agricultural by comparison.

    Reply
  13. scarf
    April 27, 2010

    Portsmouth weren't quick enough to discard him – they shouldn't have signed him in the first place. The reason Williamson didn't play at Pompey has nothing to do with footballing ability – it's because they would have had to pay Watford a sizeable chunk of money (over a million, I think) if he played a game. So he didn't.

    Reply
  14. Matt R
    April 27, 2010

    Taylor's done pretty well, but he's not in the same class as Williamson who completely shored up our defence for six months. Of the loanees, Cleverley has been terific, Lansbury on a par with him on his better days – he's inconsistent, but still young.

    Reply
  15. Matt
    April 27, 2010 Reply

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