The Watford Way is Smallfry Compared to the Game’s Real Problems
Last week, Watford were likened to “a young super hero coming to terms with his new-found powers”.
And I’m sick of reading such nonsense.
It’s nothing personal. I like Watford. I’ve enjoyed trips to Vicarage Road a couple of times; their fans are good value; and I’ve always liked the bright shade of yellow they use on their kit. Pushed, I’d also prefer to be a Hornet than a Bee; it just sounds a bit… more substantial…
But coverage of the club reached saturation point weeks, if not months, ago.
Since their change in ownership last summer, the rights and wrongs of the Watford Way have consistently featured in the blogosphere as well as national and local media.
Ok, so at first it was kind of interesting. Curious. Novel, certainly.
And it was understandable, with this season’s Championship otherwise restricted in newsworthiness to a tired set of relegated teams from the Premier League and a similarly nouveaux — but at the time less remarkable — Nottingham Forest.
All manner of questions, therefore, were asked. Did this deal — and its acceptance — leave any reason why big English clubs couldn’t take over a smaller one and set up a similar model? What would the implications be for Watford’s excellent academy? Had the club now lost its soul and sense of direction? Would the Football League now become a finishing school for foreign teams? Most infamously, was the Pozzo takeover really a snapshot into EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH THE MODERN GAME?
In the search of hits we ourselves were guilty of ascending the bandwagon, hosting a bluffer’s guide to the club’s various new arrivals; a short overview of the Pozzo’s involvement with Granada and Michael Moruzzi’s excellent retort to Watford’s detractors.
That said, in the last month or so things — to me at least — seemed to have quietened down considerably following another spike created by Ian Holloway’s rant (that this lean period in coverage had corresponded with one of the Hornets’ worst runs of form this season was no coincidence, some might suggest).
But in the last seven days, a combination of former owner Laurence Bassini’s very public exposure as a fraud and a liar as well as a quiet news week due to the international break has seen Watford make the headlines yet again as we were all treated to another Very Short Introduction to Watford FC (2012-).
The Watford Way does of course pose a number of useful questions related to what our football clubs stand for; how youth teams should best be developed; and what is and isn’t fair.
But there are bigger questions to concern ourselves with, such as declining crowds; models of ownership more generally; EPPP; parachute payments and the drawbridge being raised between the top flight and the rest of us.
Put another way, instead of exhaustively covering the way a single club is responding to these problems, surely we should be more worried about how a landscape has been created where rule-bending is one of the only ways a have not such as Watford can seemingly get on in the modern English game?
But I won’t hold my breath. Anyone who’s caught a glimpse of this Watford team can see that they’re going places, so the stories — and the nauseatingly detailed introductions — are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. So long as Watford are a threat, they’ll need to withstand the criticism and lobbying against international loans from other clubs and supporters.
Meanwhile, the big issues go unscrutinised, are left unresolved and our game continues to evolve into something I really don’t hold much affection for. But at least I have a pretty Watford team to look at when they’re on Sky.