The buck stops with Rodgers
Sat 29th Nov 2008
Brendan Rodgers` managerial debut was hijacked by a former Watford trainee but in truth the new Hornets chief would be happy with a point after the 1-1 draw with Doncaster.
'A new philosophy` with a focus on style over substance was the pre-match jargon coming out of WD18 and the new regime laid down the law early - dropping reliable Lloyd Doyley and playing the untested Ross Jenkins at right back.
It was a gamble that caused chaos in the Hornets backline throughout the first half as Doncaster could - and really should - have been 2 up well before Watford took the lead. Scott Loach made 2 strong saves and John Harley made a last gasp goal-line clearance all before Tommy Smith slid onto the end of Tamas Priskin`s 'shot` to slot home on the Hornets first attack.
Rodgers said afterward that Smudger is 'a player of great quality' but whether the Hornets boss will be allowed to keep hold of his prize asset in the January sales is looking ever more doubtful.
Smith has 10 for the season now - 3 in his last 3 games - and was Watford`s only real attacking force against Rovers although Priskin again showed he is a much improved player with the ball at his feet. Quite what Rodgers will have thought of another lacklustre showing from Jobi McAnuff will be anyone`s guess and where was Williamson?
In fairness, the new look 4-5-1 Hornets - inspired by some excellent keep-ball and controlled passing by Chelsea loanee Liam Bridcott on his debut- had a good 25 minute spell before half time and showed signs of promise but it didn`t last and Neil Sullivan didn`t have a save to make second half.
An out of sorts Hoskins (why stick him out wide?) was replaced by O`Toole before Bridcott was 'protected` by the gaffer who sent on Doyley but by that time Doncaster had taken control of proceedings and never looked threatened. In fact, former Watford YTS boy Steve Brooker`s strike was just reward for the way they piled into Watford for the full 2nd 45 minutes.
Harley struggled to cope with the pace down the left flank, the midfield chased shadows and some neat inter-play on the edge of the box caused Mariappa and Demerit into last ditch tackles. Only a great flying save by Loach kept a low range Coppinger drive from taking all 3 points which no-one could have argued about.
Watford simply lacked the urgency, drive and creativity that had caused QPR such panic just 7 days ago under Malky Mackay.
Post match Rodgers said he thought 'Doncaster were the best passing team in the division' - if only he can get his Watford troops to be 'that` confident knocking the ball about on the ground…
No wonder the new boss has already called for patience from the fans.