Watford are a Good Team – Get Used To it

Zola
Image available under Creative Commons (c) Nebbish1

Michael Moruzzi kicks off 2013 for us:

If this is wrong I don’t want to be right (or I’m sorry I’m not sorry)

Not so long ago, in a satellite town not very far away (from London), Aidy Boothroyd’s spell as Watford manager was reaching an unpleasant conclusion. Those who hung about to witness the end saw some of the most depressingly clueless football ever seen at Watford. It was a sad end to what had initially been a very successful period for the club. But, the problems didn’t end with Boothroyd’s departure; the club was burdened with failed signings on ridiculously high salaries for several seasons. All the financial benefits of promotion to the Premier League were wiped out and we were back on the bread line. It was all that was wrong with modern football.

And then, only last season, we had someone in charge who claimed to be the owner, but who could never provide much information about where his money came from, or how he was going to pay for all the wonderful things he wanted to do at the club. Turns out he didn’t have any actual money – surprise! – and that his ownership was a complete farce that could have sunk the club. It was all that was wrong with modern football.

Thankfully, someone else was crazy enough to buy the club – enter new owners, the Pozzo family – and Watford are enjoying their best season in ages. They finished the calendar year in sixth place, scoring tons of goals, and with a playing cast that look incongruously skilful compared to the average in the Championship. Truth be told, it’s hard to recall a time when Watford have played more aesthetically pleasing football. Brendan Rodgers got them passing, but never with this level of incisiveness. Zola’s Watford team can look almost disinterested at times, then they spring into the life with a series of rapid passes and overlapping runs, like a flurry of punches, to leave their opponents bewildered and disoriented. There’s something tremendously satisfying about seeing your opponent’s goal keeper banging his fists on the turf and berating his confused defenders with a kind of terrified fury.

So, we’ve got nothing to grumble about, and plenty to be thankful for. The problem is, not everyone wants to share in our joy. There are some who want to take it away, to make us doubt. We’re all familiar with the criticism now – Watford are soulless; the endless stream of loans has destroyed the fabric of the club; what about the old community spirit; the home grown players have been thrown out on the street and forced to beg for food. Watford are all that’s wrong with modern football.

It’s all a giant, steaming pile of horse shit, of course, but it smarts a bit, having nasty things said about you. What do these people want, would they have us back with the previous regime and life of permanent uncertainty? It makes you want to react, to condemn articles and attack authors. And you only have to see the comments below the line on a hilariously ill-informed opinion editorial in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph for evidence. It’s fine to point out the inaccuracies, the trick is to keep the fury at check while doing so, otherwise it looks like the author has touched a nerve. Think about it; it’s only a short step from being a bit irked about some criticisms of your club to ‘Liverpool fan’. Is that where we want to be – leaping in en masse every time someone makes a critical remark about our club?

Graham Taylor didn’t raise us that way. We’ve always had to deal with haters, and it never bothered us much in the past. Yes, lot’s of people are getting it wrong about Watford, but imagine if the Pozzo family had rocked up elsewhere. Let’s suppose they’d acquired Charlton, and were packing their squad full of imports, while Watford struggled to pay for a first XI. We’d be properly green.

Instead, there’s probably plenty of Championship clubs feeling jealous of Watford right now. They feel threatened by our methods – our academy prospects, our access to a global scouting network, and the fact that we’re defying the early doubters and having a right laugh in the process.

We’ve got Fernando Forestieri – a highly skilled Argentine Italian forward with a weird Disney obsession; we’ve got Almen Abdi – an actual playmaker who can thread a pass like no one I’ve seen at the Vic in, well, like no one I’ve seen at the Vic; and, we’ve got Tommy Hoban – a child from our academy disguised as a monstrously brilliant centre-back. Of course Martin Samuel’s pissed off – it wasn’t supposed to work.

Who knows how long it will last, but when it does, no one is going to convince my club are destroying football. This season is supposed to be the one for bedding in, with a promotion push the following year, but football doesn’t work like that. You don’t always get to choose the moment you’re on the up. We need to make the most of now, forgetting about Samuel and Co. We should be singing and dancing and prancing our way to Vicarage Road. Hello Watford High Street! Hello the Church multi-storey car park! Hello Red Lion! Hello burger van outside the Vicarage Road End – is this food safe? It doesn’t look safe. Really? Ok, go on then, double cheese burger with lots of onions please! This truly is a wonderful time to be alive.

Michael is the brains behind Regista, one of our favourite football blogs and his scribblings have also appeared courtesy of When Saturday Comes, In Bed With Maradona and Surreal Football. He can be followed on Twitter at @Regista_Michael.

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10 Comments on "Watford are a Good Team – Get Used To it"

  1. Mark says:

    I think people know we play good football TBF.

    We just get criticisied for the way our club is run but thern last season we got comments saying “what a boring defensive team of journeymen”

  2. Good piece, really hope that it works out for Watford and pleasing to hear that they’re combining the advantages of the owners’ scouting network with homegrown players.

  3. Lanterne Rouge says:

    Good post Michael. having seen some of Watford’s build up play in the recent win at Brighton, how can anyone not see this as a good thing?

    But the most important point you make is about how to react to criticism. It’s basic – but not letting the critics know you are annoyed is the best way of rebutting them.

  4. Tim Turner says:

    I agree with most of this, apart from the final paragraph. Yes, it’s true that you can’t choose when things are going to go right, but I really don’t want Watford to get promoted this season. Our two previous trips to the Premiership were so brief and ghastly precisely because we weren’t ready for it. I’ll settle for 7th place and more of the entertainment we’ve had so far this season.

    The Pozzo masterplan makes sense to me. And if we don’t make it next year, and it takes three or four seasons, so what? At least by then we might be financially stable, and we might even have a four-sided ground again – both of which would give us a much better chance of sticking around for a while this time.

    • Michael says:

      Tim, I think that’s a fine plan and I’d gladly settle for that too – the only flaw is that the Championship is quite a hard league to plan for. There are so many teams of roughly equal ability, the team that can find form and consistency ends up getting promoted. You can’t always predict when that’s going to happen. Also, clubs like Watford are always at risk of losing their best players to bigger clubs., which also makes long-term planning difficult. I’d love to see the stadium finished, but I think that’s a long-term aim. We don’t get the crowds to justify it at the moment, and it will cost a lot of money – I wouldn’t be surprised if the plan was to get promoted first and then use some of the money to redevelop the stadium.

  5. Popsider says:

    Great article and funny too! I’ve watched Watford on a semi-regular basis since the dying days of Boothroyd’s reign & have caught a few games this season so this article struck a chord with me. I’ve also been a Derby County obsessive since the 80′s and a lot our fans & a few bloggers have had digs at “the project”, mostly from a position of ignorance. I think Watford will always be a club that it’s easy to have a go at and it’s rather endearing to see how fans have, despite some initial scepticism, taken to the Pozzos and the new players and have been robust in their defence. Of course, the success on the pitch has helped but so has the fact that most of the loanees seemed to have developed a genuine love for the club and the fans. It’s a fair point that you (and Rob) make about reacting to criticism in a logical, restrained way but I have to say that this is exactly what I’ve seen from the Watford fans I know. I’ve not seen anything that’s over the top in any way. And long may it continue!
    Oh. And Forestieri – what an enigma!

  6. EachGame says:

    Great article, and fully in agreement (except perhaps about the burger van).

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