Opinion: Watford's identity changing, not lost
SO we`re in February, and again the topic of the loans has come up again; it`s been a while to be fair, but Ian Holloway`s pre and post-match comments on Friday have raised the whole ugly subject once more.
Before I dive into a stream of consciousness centred on my feelings about the loanees, let me direct you to THIS PIECE from the Watford blogger, In The Wolf`s Mouth. It`s a well thought-out, well-written piece and sums up a lot of my thoughts very nicely.
Since Holloway`s outbursts on Friday, we`ve had talkSPORT wind-up merchant/shock jock/journalist Adrian Durham add his thoughts on the subject.
For those who don`t know about Adrian, he has made his name by spouting opinionated rubbish on talkSPORT which he doesn`t actually believe himself, in order to generate caller interest to the station.
It works, and he is good at it, but nonetheless, I found myself caught on his hook, thrashing violently as he reels me in.
Of course, the irony of Durham`s team - Peterborough United - leaning heavily on Manchester United loanees ever since Sir Alex`s son pitched up at London Road is not lost on me. I can`t say I`ve ever noticed Durham complaining about the same of 'loss of identity` that we`re apparently suffering from.
Concerns are of course understandable. We all had them in the summer, some people probably still have them now, and understandably so, we are just under eight months into this project, (it is a 'project`, deal with it), and to that end there`s very little to judge the success of it on.
However, to directly assess the claims of messrs Holloway and Durham.
In the case of Holloway, he is correct in as much as the system does need to be looked at. It`s a particularly strange piece of Football League legislature which means international loans are treated as permanent transfers. Why is that? It sounds a lot like the Football League board got bored drawing up their rules and regulations all those years ago so just put this caveat in so they could all knock off early. Who knows?
It is, to my mind, a daft rule and leaves the Football League open to cases of exploitation. To that end, it`s perhaps surprising that no other clubs have agreed link-ups with big foreign teams in order to harvest them for their talented off-cuts.
However, that isn`t to say we`re doing anything wrong. The way Holloway (and many others) have banged on this season is to suggest Watford have bent the rules in doing what we`ve done. And, as we all know, that simply isn`t the case. We`ve found a very obvious loophole (one which has been around for years) and made darn good use of it.
Is it 'fair`? Maybe not, but is it 'fair` that some clubs are in a position to outbid others time and time again for the best players? Is it 'fair` that the biggest clubs will always cherry-pick the best players from smaller clubs? Is it 'fair` that the biggest clubs scour the globe for the best players in parts of the world others couldn`t afford to holiday in?
At the end of the day it all boils down to resources. Whilst Watford might not have owners in the Pozzo Family who will chuck money around with the same willy-nilly disregard for financial prudence or Financial Fair Play as Leicester or Cardiff City, we have owners who can move players between their three clubs, and each benefits from that setup.
One has to wonder what has brought on Mr Holloway`s comments. Jealousy that Palace don`t enjoy the benefits of a tie-up with a big European club? Dissatisfaction at his side`s recent displays or results? It certainly smacks of the green-eyed monster.
In terms of Durham`s suggestion that Watford are a club 'losing its identity`, it`s far too early to tell.
In time, he could prove to be correct and then we`ll all look particularly silly, those of us at least who replied to his tweets several times to rashly explain why he was wrong!
However, in the cold light of day, he could be right. As I said at the top of this piece, we`re less than eight minutes into Pozzo Family ownership and hopefully on the basis of those near-eight months, they`ll be around for a long time, but at what cost?
Things have changed at Vicarage Road. We haven`t had five or six youngsters break into the first-team already, but we`ve still had Tommie Hoban, Connor Smith and Jonathan Bond make an impact on the first-team. Lloyd Doyley and Sean Murray are still both involved and there have been new contracts for Britt Assombalonga, Bernard Mensah, Murray, Hoban and Smith.
Does that sound like a club abandoning its principles to you?
The simple reason that we haven`t had perhaps as many academy graduates making an impact this season is that we haven`t needed them. We have played of Almen Abdi and Matej Vydra`s ability and players who aren`t quite good enough but get a chance through necessity haven`t been called upon. Who knows, it could also be better for their development to remain in the
shelter of the academy a touch longer.
At the end of the day, the cream still rises to the top. If a player is good enough, he`ll break through, whether or not he makes his name at Watford or another club. However, with our record for producing and bringing through home-grown players is enviable so the wise money suggests that is a trend which will continue for a good while yet.
'Losing` our identity? More like changing it for the better.