Date:Saturday June 10 2006
So here we are. The verge of the World Cup kicking off, waiting for England to raise their game and really seize their opportunity to do well. We may all have our side bets on eventual winners, but secretly that loss of a tenner will not matter to the heart felt emotions when Beckham lifts the greatest treasure in football, the World Cup.
All English Watford fans know that their true loyalty lies with their home country, due to the disappointing lack of Watford players in the World Cup. We all knew that before Marlon got sent home/walked away, you really wanted the 'Reggae Boyz` to pick up a victory, even if you had your England shirt on, you wanted King to show the Premiership what they had in store next season. But, due to the lack of representatives of Hornets in the World Cup, even though we all know Jay should be in Germany, there will be no such feelings, and all we want to see is Beckham lifting that trophy (and maybe Scott Carson picking up a little niggle - nothing career threatening - to allow Foster to get in the squad).
However maybe once the tournament has finished, there will have been a slightly larger number of Hornets who had played in the cup. With plenty of 'unfashionable` countries playing, surely we should have some scouts trying to pick up some Marlon-esque bargains. Of course, any player that performs well at the cup will see their price rapidly increase, but we don`t need starlets who steal the show, we need the players that don`t put a foot wrong, consistent players, not inconsistent showboats - hence why Chambers replaced Eagles for the most important matches of the season.
Now we all know that Boothroyd is in fact the man most deserving of a holiday right now, and no one can take that away from him. But it`s just so hard to feel fuelled up and confident about performing well in the Premiership with our light looking squad. All we need are a couple of experienced Premiership players - as Malky was for us in the Championship this season.
Although I do worry about how Aidy will act in the transfer market. Of course he found some real bargains in Spring, Carlisle, Malky, Stewart (near the end of the season), Henderson and unforgettably King. However, Aidy had worked with all of these players (apart from Henderson) previously in his career. Of course there is no problem with him utilising his previous experience, and bringing in players he knows can do a job, but surely there are only so many gems left? Not every player he has worked with before is going to be top quality.
I certainly don`t have confidence in Boothroyd buying players from overseas, as our two acquisitions this season were Griffiths and Sietes - who we never saw put on a Watford shirt (unless you went to reserve matches). Although with the World Cup players will be able to show whether they can handle the big stage or not, and of course as Aidy admits himself he is still learning, and will learn from these mistakes. Also players that he brought in that he hasn`t worked with before haven`t filled me with confidence, in the form of Martin Devaney and Jordan Stewart, although Stewart did start to show some class when we needed him most during the play offs, and he does have a mean left foot, so if he carries that through to next season I will have no complaints.
My fears can also be shown through Aidy`s loan signings throughout the season. Ben Foster was undoubtedly a good option, and he deservedly got his call up to the stand-by for England (and to be honest I think he deserved to be in the squad ahead of Green and Carson, based on performances this season). Eagles started off well and had moments of brilliance, but I feel he was a bit too much of a skills-merchant, with not enough effort involved, but if he can consistently show his good form, he could be worth going for.
But then we are lead to Trevor Benjamin, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Carl Fletcher - yeah I thought you might have forgotten about them. The lethal strike force that didn`t pick up a goal between them. Although I do think Agbonlahor showed potential, and may be better as a permanent signing, or on a more long-term loan basis. Benjamin showed us why he plays for Peterborough Reserves; he was a big target, and not much else. I wouldn`t be cursing the return of Fletcher, he didn`t do much wrong, and put in a solid performance in the centre of the park, but we have similair players to him in Bangura, Mahon and a fit Blizzard.
However, I am perfectly willing to risk a Martin Devaney for every Marlon King, or a Trevor Benjamin for every Ben Foster. I don`t mean to cast too much of a critical eye over the transfer market ahead, but I think it may be necessary to bring us down a bit from the cloud nine we were at when Watford won the play-offs, and after all when I saw a quote from Aidy saying that he would prefer that fans would boo him, so he would improve as a manager, I felt he might like the fact he gained some criticism. Although I am not in any way intending to hide the ambitions we achieved this season.
WRITTEN BY STUART BROWN
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