Watford and Liverpool: Spot the difference?
Just why an earth are Liverpool doing so badly, and why for that matter are Watford doing so well? Everything points in towards the Reds having the tools in place to succeed - new owners with the club`s best interests at heart, the last man to take a league title to Anfield back in charge - at the expressed request of the fans that is, and yet still they crash to a humiliating defeat against Blackpool (who leapfrog them to ninth) fresh out of the Championship five months ago.
The Hornet`s on the other hand are still looking for new owners after the last set arguably disgraced themselves as much as Liverpool`s former comedy duo, Hicks and Gillette. Malky Mackay is in his first job, money is tighter than tight and the squad is paper thin. Yet, somehow the Hornets are outperforming their expectations whilst Liverpool underperform in theirs. Why?
In building any successful team, the importance of continuity cannot be understated. It was evident when Steve Coppell guided Reading to the Championship title in 2006 with a record point`s haul, and when essentially the same squad finished seventh in the Premier League the next season.
What Malky Mackay has built at Watford, for all their inexperience and youth, is a competent, balanced squad of hungry players. All of whom know one another`s strengths and weakness` as they`ve either come through the academy together or seen very few players come and go during Mackay`s tenure.
Whilst one of Mackay`s predecessors Aidy Boothroyd was always looking to tweak the squad and bring in 'one more player` Malky has (through necessity or otherwise) kept the core of players he was handed when Brendan Rodger`s dashed off to Reading two Summers ago.
ake this transfer window, nobody in, only two players leaving and that due to the expiry of their loan contracts.
In the Sumer Troy Deeney, Rene Gilmartin and Tom Aldred were the only permanent additions. The latter two are 'ones for the future` and have hardly had a sniff whilst Deeney has played second-fiddle to the established order of Danny Graham, Marvin Sordell and Will Buckley.
January 2010? Only Stephen McGinn and Will Buckley arrived, to anticipate the loss` of Henri Lansbury and Tom Cleverley come the summer.
August 2009? The aforementioned Lansbury and Cleverley arrived for season-long loans but the only other business were the arrivals of Scott Severin (who only made a handful of appearances before moving on) and Danny Graham - obviously a revelation up top and a snip at £250k (plus clauses).
Bar the rotation of a handful of loanees and binning of over-paid under-performing players left from previous regimes the squad has stayed much the same under Mackay. Contrast this to Liverpool where Roy Hodgson brought in Danny Wilson, Joe Cole, Jonjo Shelvey, Paul Konchesky, Raul Meireles, Milan Jovanovic, Brad Jones and Christian Poulsen in one summer alone and you start to see the importance of continuity to building a successful, consistent side.
Chopping and changing your manager won`t help either of course. How can anyone expect to repair the damage left by their predecessor in five months?
In the time Malky Mackay and Graham Taylor have been doing a sterling job of getting the Hornets buzzing once more the Merseysider`s have seen three managers come and go and two sets of owners. Granted we`ve had our own boardroom problems but never have the got in the way of on-field achievement.
Given time I firmly believe that Roy Hodgson would`ve turned things around at Liverpool even if this season only showed a gradual improvement on last come May, but, such was the mess left by Rafa Benitez the former Fulham manager would`ve needed years not months to even get the club back on an even keel. However the new owners panicked and now a third manager will have his say on the players, ship yet more in, yet more out and try and start from scratch for the third time in two years. This level of change is not conducive to running a successful football club.
Of course there is no handbook to running a football club the 'right way` but if history has taught is anything then continuity is key and that is why Malky Mackay`s Goldenboys are bothering the higher echelons of the N.Power Championship this season.