This post was originally published in the Golden Pages Fanzine and was a transcript of
Jon: Welcome to another From The Rookery End column in Golden Pages. And this one is a little different. For 8 season, we’ve been recording podcasts and telling about our take on life as a Watford. So this column is one of the conversations we have on the podcast.
My name is Jon and with me is Jason.
Jon: And Mike.
Mike: Yes, I am here, good day.
Jon: In most podcasts we start by looking back at the game from that week, trying to find the good when there is despair, sometimes celebrating a tremendous performance. We also discuss topics from the wider world of football, sometimes silly or make believe. And for this column, we are going to try and see the Watford in other clubs in the Premier League. And see which we dream to be.
Jas, let’s start in the realm of realism. When you look at the playing style of Watford, which other club are we most like?
Jason: I don’t think I would pin us to one single club. I think the way we play these days, under our current head coach, we are patient. We look for an opening, we don’t take too many risky passes. One of the biggest risks we do take are the silly little flicks and tricks, when we try and open up defences, which I don’t really suit the players we’ve got. You could probably label a lot of the non-top 6 teams, when they play at Vicarage Road, play in the same way. They’ll play patiently, they won’t pile forward, they won’t risk anything, they’ll wait. Well for us they’ll wait for us to make defensive mistakes this season, the ones that have gone on to win. There are a couple of teams I don’t think we are. I don’t think we are a Burnley and or a Bournemouth. I think their styles of play are slightly different and whilst neither go gung-ho, we know Bournemouth are very much about pace up front, and they use that to damage teams, which we haven’t got. And Burnley, are a more traditional 4-4-2 with the big guys up front, narrow, compact, happy to let the other teams do the passing. Not like us. We like to keep possession, but we play simple passes. We’ve been playing across the back a lot at the moment, just patiently looking for an opening upfront, rather than lumping it up forward and hoping that something will happen.
Mike: Do you know who I think we are most like? Arsenal. [LAUGHTER]
Jon: Go on, explain that one.
Mike: Well, we look to play decent football, we play the ball around nicely in midfield. Absolutely no end product, not performing anywhere near where we should be. And probably on the hunt for a new manager over the summer.
Jon: So then Mike, if we are already like Arsenal, who then do you dream to be, who would you like Watford to be like?
Mike: Accrington Stanley, they’ve just beaten Luton to winning the league! [LAUGHTER]
Jon: Any Premier League clubs?
Mike: I’d take, perrrrrrrrr, Man City.
Jon: Oh come on, that’s a different level, do you truly want to go the whole season with little losing. And when you do, it’s total deviestation. You don’t want the roller coaster of wins, loses and draws we are used as Watford fans?
Mike: You can only imagine the tedium of being a Manchester City fan. It must be awful. But it’s interesting isn’t it. I’ve been mulling over this question for quite some time. We talk about the pitfalls, the ups and downs of being a Premier League football supporter, of a team that is not necessarily a bone-a-fideie challenger. And the landscape of the Premier League has changed very very dramatically. So if you take the top 6 out of it, the only real, you’d say fully established Premier League side, is Everton.
And everyone else is kind had a recent history of relegated, or promoted or experienced a bit of a yo-yo existence. So the days of pinning your hopes on emulating a side. Back in the day it was Charlton, under Curbishley. A small club with a lot of London rivals, who managed to stay in the PL, on a modest budget, on modest crowds, but sort of incrementally getting better, that thing we’ve been striding for so often.
Then more recently, you’ve looked at Swansea. Who got promoted, no one expected them to make much of a fist of it. On the contrary, they did the opposite, they did very well. They’ve won silverware, they’ve qualified for Europe and certainly in the early days of their PL existence, they played some really nice football. Obviously, they’ve had a tough season this year, it wasn’t great last year either. So you take them out of the equation and you’re probably maybe looking at Southampton, who came up from League 1 and Championship, and have a model probably fairly similar to ours. Whereby they are selling players, that’s their model. They aren’t just reliant on the TV money. They are bring players in, nurturing them, moving them on for big profit, and reinvesting again. Of course if you look at the PL table, at the moment they’re in the bottom three, where they’ve been for a long time.
So is it too lofty for us to say we want to be someone like Everton, who have been in the top flight for, gosh know how many years. I would say it isn’t. Everton fans would certainly scoff at us wanting to be mentioned in the same breath as them.And of course we can’t compete with them on history and honours, but in terms of their longevity, and in terms of their last ten years, they’ve perhaps flirted with relegation a couple of times, they’ve flirted with Europe a couple of times, I can’t record if they’ve had a good cup run of not. What you can say about Everton is that if someone said, right, take your mortgage, have a bet on who outside of the top 6 is still going to be in the PL in 5 years, I’d hazard a guess at Everton being a reasonable bet.
Jon: That’s who we are most like, that’s who we could strive to be. Is there another Premier League club that you never want to be, Jas?
Jason: You’d think there would be blindingly obvious to Watford fans, like Bournemouth or Palace, but there are aspects of those clubs that I quite like. Ummmm…
Mike: I’ll bail you out Jas.
Jason: Go on.
Mike: Tottenham – Hotspur.
Jason: But why wouldn’t you want to have the new stadium, there’s a lot of potential there and I know they are in danger of not fulfilling that potential.
Mike: Ah well Jas, your being very magnanimous this evening. I’m not at all. They are perennial underachievers. They are a glorified selling club. Whenever they get close, ultimately they fail, never get it across the line. They don’t win cups, they don’t challenge really for the Premier League and eventually the big players get fed up. Pochettio even talking about a post Pochettio landscape after the FA Cup Semi-Final. Harry Kane, how long is he going to want to put up with being a Bridesmaid at best – on a financial and silverware level. It’s not because I dis, no, I do dislike Tottenham, but apart from that it must be an incredibly frustrating to be effectively, admittedly very good, but very good alsoran on a yearly basis.
Jason: I’d love to be at risk of challenging for European slots every season. [LAUGHTER]