Who do you never want Watford to sign?
A legend at his club, winner of 16 major, and respected, trophies (Premier League titles, FA Cups, European Cups) and over 50 caps for his country – who wouldn’t want Watford to sign such experience? He bound to be the sort of man to help us take our third season in the Premier League by the scruff of the neck, to strive forward, possibly challenge for a place in Europe and (his biggest challenge) make it a season that we can cope with.
The answer, from everyone in the From The Rookery End WhatsApp group at least, is No!
I mean, he’s John Terry, and, whatever club signs up the 36 year old, he’ll turn up with more than just the flattering statistics I’ve already mentioned. Reputation in football is important. In the eyes of the media, in the dressing room and in the minds of the fans who have to show support to them. Maybe John is a step too far for most, not just Watford fans, and it would be near on impossible to show the same kind passion we’ve showed legends like Luther, Troy, even Dave (Bamber).
Now, it could already be argued that we’ve made the ultimate taboo signing in bringing Ke*ry Di*on to the club in 1996, but let’s do what we’ve been doing since then and forget it happened.
We’ll start with a few that the Hornets have got recent history with. Be it home or away, they have wound up the Watford fans with behaviour that is not even fitting in a Primary School playground. You know the ones.
West Bromwich Albion have had a decent season and have even managed to make Walter Mazzarri’s style of play look palatable on a number of occasions, but within their ranks they have a few absolute rotters. We’re looking at you, James McLean.
The Irishman is actually a decent enough player, and it could be argued that a man of his evident tenacity is exactly what the Hornets are missing, but on the evidence of our two fixtures with the Baggies this season, it’s hard not to arrive at the conclusion that, well, he’s just a bit of a thug. He was lucky not to be sent off in both matches – his withdrawal and Vicarage Road a clear indication that his boss felt the same. Here at From the Rookery End we’re all for a bit of blood and thunder, but there has to be a line. Jose Holebas is one side, James McLean is the other. he’s on the list.
What about Wes Hoolahan, or Wes “Tom Daley” Hoolahan, who scored highly in the diving competitions we used to have – No wait it was a football match and he’s a conniving cheat. And whilst we are on the topic of divers, let’s remember all that Anthony Knockaert did. I know we eventually won the play off semi final and experienced a moment in football that billions around the world wished they had been part of. In some ways I thank him for those 20 seconds and hours of celebration. But he had the audacity to do it, and I can’t see passed that. Not only that, he tried to make The Beard look bad – I miss you Marco. What’s more, we’ll get to see the light-footed frenchman next year when he returns to The Vic with Brighton. I’m all up for Brighton to gain promotion, we get a day out by the sea, a pint of Harvey’s and we return to wonderful place we captured promotion. I’m just not sure that I want to see his smug face again, that’s all. We remember his celebration when Leicester returned to the Vic in 2013-14.
Another player whose desire to constantly struggle with the earths gravitational pull is Wilfried Zaha. This is a tricky one, as he is undoubtedly an incredibly skilful player, with talent in abundance. It’s also hard to be too angry towards someone who allows himself to get wound up by Harry the Hornet on national TV, but again – we’ll be keeping an eye on him. He’s on the list, but perhaps just in pencil.
I’d also die a little inside if we signed those cocky younger players, who are paid a fortune, clear have some skills, but yet to take up the opportunities that their talent has given them. Jack Wilshere, Andros Townsend (still the worst guest we’ve ever had on FTRE) and Jessie Lingard. Take your England caps, your ability to run at, and around, defenders at great speed. No sir, I do not want them at Watford, if I have to cheer and clap you when you smash it into the back on the net. My clapping would be tainted with the countless attempts you’ve made at so called ‘sportmanship’’. HA!
When we asked the question to our Twitter followers – @watfordpodcast if you don’t follow us already – we got many responses which weren’t explained, maybe even irrational, but I
understood when I read the names where the hatred might have come from: Tom Ince, Matt Ritchie, Marc Pugh, Andre Gray, Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson. You’ve read them now and some of them have made your face grimace a bit, haven’t they?
Whoever we get in, let’s hope none are the above, we are expecting a few new faces to turn up who can be part of the starting XI straight away. The team this season was one of the best (in terms of ability) Watford have EVER assembled. As watching fans, we are all aware that they could have played to a much higher standard, with or without Walter’s chosen direction. And next years team need to be just that, a team. One with an identity and one that can show off all they can do. Players like the above make me think that they may not be the best ‘team players’.
The Pozzo’s have got us used to a turnover of players every summer, and this July and August will be no different. We’ll have a new Adidas kit next season and new men to wear it. We can cross our fingers and hope that they get them all right. Not the likes of Neuton, Iriney or some other players with single name we’ve had in during the last 5 years. As pointed out in a former FTRE column in Golden Pages, they have been getting better at making the right choices and had more hits than misses. The January window must go down as one of the best – Niang and Cleverly have worked out very well. We can only presume more of the same, and hope for so much more.
A few names to avoid then, but while we urge Gino and the gang to steer clear of the aforementioned gaggle of ghastly protagonists, it’s important to consider recruitment for a moment. While we’ve seen a high number of players come into the club, with many of them forging successful Vicarage Road careers, there is a nagging doubt that too many of them haven’t quite hit the spot. There have been none that are likely to join the list we’ve discussed here, but still, the jury is out on what we could argue is a fair percentage of incomings. We’re set for an interesting summer (again!) then, and we’re sure that you, like us, will be watching and waiting with interest. Just don’t blame us if they bring in Wes Hoolahan.
This article was originally written for Golden Pages Fanzine