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Watford v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 30th October 2015
By: Preview Percy

According to a recent report Australians are "drunk, inarticulate and use a 23 letter alphabet". Preview Percy only has 3 more letters to learn before he can emigrate then....

Next up we venture into darkest Hertfordshire to Watford. Saturday 3pm kick off is the order of the day. Trains? Well if your journey involves use of the stopping services provided by London Overground between Euston and Watford Junction (the orange lines on the map) there are no trains on the bit between Wembley Central and Queen’s Park. Similarly there are no Bakerloo Line trains north of Queen’s Park on the day. The faster services provided by London Midland appear to be unaffected though and the more circuitous route to Watford (Met) on the Metropolitan Line is also unaffected, though the camel link between Harrow and Vicarage Road will be suspended due to a damaged hoof.

So Watford then. The stomping ground of Preview Alastair when they allow him out of his room here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered and he’s not on a pilgrimage to his Geordie homeland. An odd place to be sure and an odd football club to match. For a start they seem to take the concept of “Manager Of The Month” literally.

In December 2013 they parted company with a certain Gianfranco Zola, who was replaced by Beppe Sannio who held the reins into the 2014/15 season. Well for a month or so of it anyway. There were rumblings of discontent from within which had nothing to do with Preview Alastair’s Guinness and Curry diet regime and at the end of August, with the club in second place following a run of four wins out of five, Sannio resigned.

Sannio was replaced by former Brighton head coach Oscar Garcia. He lasted 27 days before resigning for health reasons, having been rushed to hospital suffering from chest pains after a match against Charlton.

So, where are we? Oh yes. 29 September. Enter Billy McKinlay, who had joined the club in a more junior coaching role all of three days earlier. Barely had McKinlay chosen the colour scheme for his new office than the owning Pozzo family decided that the past eleven days had not been the greatest of their lives and McKinlay was replaced by Slavisa Jokanovic who, much to everybody’s surprise, lasted all the way to the end of the season.

At the end of the season a win over Brighton late in April coupled with other results falling their way spared them the travails of the playoffs and they were promoted. At which point you’d have thought that the managerial position would have been in no doubt. Er, no. Contract negotiations floundered and Jokanovic’s contract expired with either side willing to compromise.

The Pozzo family decided to, er, cast a net and brought in flamenco dancer’s nephew Quique Flores, whose name has a pleasing ring about it. At time of writing he’s still in charge but, hey, it’s quite early in the week so who knows what the case will be by the time the short chubby one and the bald one who run this site finally post these words of wisdom up on the web.

It’s been a not too good/not too bad start to their latest sojourn in the top flight. They opened up with three draws and, overall, they have won three, drawn four and lost three of the ten played to date, leaving them in 13th place with 13 points. Hope they’re not superstitious.

Last week they came away from Stoke with all three points courtesy of a 2-0 win. The opening goal came from skipper Troy Deeney, who, the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles tells me, had up to that point spurned no fewer than 24 goalscoring opportunities over the course of the season. Last season he became the first Watford player to net over 20 goals in three consecutive seasons. He seems to have sorted himself out after serving three months of a ten-month spell inside following a conviction for affray. If only he’d changed his name to, oh, say, Steven Gerrard he’d have gotten away with it.

Deeney’s striking partner has been Odion Igalho. Igalho originally came in on loan from Watford’s sister club Udinese at the start of last season, having previously spent most of his time there out on loan with the Pozzo’s other plaything Granada. There’s a joke in there somewhere using the Cinema names Odion and Granada but they don’t pay me enough to work out the punchline. The loan period was terminated and the player joined on permanent terms last October. Handy when the club you’re buying from is owned by the same people who own you isn’t it?! Igalho netted 20 times in last season’s promotion campaign. And has hit the target 5 times already this term, form that saw him called up by his native Nigeria for whom he has a brace in 5 appearances.

There has been a large turnover of players in recent years to the extent that their longest serving players (Mensah, Smith & Hoban) all joined the club only as far back as 2011. They brought in no fewer than 16 players over the course of the summer, 13 of whom came in on permanent deals. Of the permanent deals the most notable from our point of view was the arrival from Hamburg of Valon “Pep” Berahmi. The Swiss international came in for a rumoured £3m and will be remembered for an injury-punctuated spell at the Boleyn a few years back. He missed a fair while after an horrific knee ligament injury sustained in a home win over Man City in 2009. Subsequent injury absences were a bit dodgy though. Let me put it this way, he was immediately fit and available for selection the second the summer transfer window closed in 2010 and he was off as soon as the window re-opened the following January. Behrami missed a few games recently after a deserved straight red for a nasty tackle on whichever of the Ayew brothers it is who played for Swansea.

On the loan front they brought in the much-tattooed Alessandro Diamanti who was a useful little player for us a few seasons ago and who went on to have a decent run in the Italian national side after he left the Boleyn. Skilful and mildly bonkers he always put me in mind of a “Happy Shopper” DiCanio during his spell with us. Diamanti arrived on a season-long loan from Chinese outfit Guangzhou Evergrande.

They also have the obligatory loan in from Chelsea in the form of Dutch defender whose be-dreadlocked appearance puts one in mind of a young Ruud Gullit. Ake came in, according to interviews he gave at the time, on the strength of Flores’ history of giving young players a chance. So he must be a bit disappointed with the three appearances in the league he’s been able to muster this far.

The biggest expenditure of the summer was the two lots of £6m laid out to rescue Etienne Capoue from Tottenham and on midfielder Jose Jurado, who arrived from Spartak Moscow.

Capoue, capped seven times by the French, had two years at Spurs but managed only 24 appearances in the league during that time. In contrast, since arrival at Vicarage Road he’s featured in all ten games in the league thus far.

Meanwhile Jurado started life on the fringes of the Real Madrid first team squad before hopping across town to join Atletico. Spells at Mallorca (loan) and Schalke followed before a loan deal to Spartak was made permanent in 2013. His international career seems to have run aground about 6 years ago at Spanish U21 level. He’s featured in 7 of their league matches this season but has been missing in the more recent outings with hamstring problems, though there’s a chance of seeing him this weekend.

So that’s them. What of us? Well the season continues to provide us with entertainment and fun, last week at the expense of a hapless Chelsea who, if they were a person rather than a club, would surely be on a psychiatrist’s couch by now. A quick word about the ref. I’m first to criticise PGMOL and the system that protects the mediocre and rewards the corrupt. However, Mr Moss grew an unprecedented pair in the face of the usual bullying and intimidation and his performance gave me a gliimer of hope that there might be a spark of honesty amongst the whole rotten heap.

For some reason when I went out for my constitutional on Sunday morning – a brisk quarter of a mile ending in the snug of the Swan and Superinjunction – the local kids seemed a bit scared by my limping gait coupled with the silly grin that I’d been unable to get rid of since the final whistle. Even a concerned parent’s comment of “don’t worry dear – it’s just an old man celebrating Halloween early in case he doesn’t make it that far” didn’t annoy me as much as it might have normally have done.

I do note that yet again the FA have decided to use us to finance the staff Christmas Party by charging us with failure to control our players. The amount they’ve had out of us must mean that there’s a five day break in Mauritius on the cards for the pen-pushers behind the scenes at Wembley Stadium come yuletide this year.

On the injury front the usual listings show us down to two on the treatment table. Winston Reid is shown as possibly ready for this weekend whilst Alex Song is “still a long way off” which apparently means he may be ready to make some sort of squad appearance for the Everton match. Other than that, unlike Mourinho, Bilic will be playing with a full deck. Which gives some nice selection problems. For example, in defence with Reid available do we revert to what is nominally our first choice of Reid and Tomkins, bearing in mind how well Ginge has played in recent weeks. What about Ogbonna? Further forward does Moses get back in now he’s not “league-tied” (I’ll get that expression into common usage if it kills me) or do we reward Zarate for his not inconsiderable efforts?

I need to be a bit careful on the prediction front for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this being West Ham we’re talking about, we’re only ever a heartbeat away from something going pear-shaped. If I had a pound for every time I’d uttered the words “typical West Ham” over the years I’d probably have more money than Abrahamovic. With a slightly better taste in yachts obviously. We nearly messed up at Sunderland remember, only a few weeks after beating Man City on their own patch, so a tough time at Watford only days after handing Chelsea their blue-flag enhanced backsides on a plate wouldn’t totally be out of character, would it?

The second reason for my reluctance to go all guns blazing is that over the past few matches, even when I’ve thought we were more than capable of getting a win, my natural caution has stopped me from actually predicting such and, when I’ve gone for the draw (for example at Palace) we’ve gone and won. So call me a superstitious old sod if you will (er we had something different in mind – ed) but I think that I’ll stick the £2.50 That the Rest Home was going to be spending on a copy of the Chilcott Report on a 2-2 draw in the hope that we actually win 3-1 or something.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Vicarage Road: Won 4-0 (August 2011). Goals from Tomkins, O’Brien, Cole (Carlton) and what turned out to be a farewell effort from Scott Parker before his career went down the drain at Spurs were enough to give us back-to-back away wins for the first time in aeons.

Danger Man: Troy Deeney –May be one of those players that, now his duck has been broken...

Referee: Keith Stroud We haven’t had him for a while as he’s not actually a member of the so-called “select” group. This is because he is a member of a pretty exclusive club, being one of only five referees ever to be demoted from the select group in the 14 years they’ve been going. More people have walked on the moon. Whilst his selection might be applauded if it’s an example of opening up the closed shop, it’s more likely that he’s getting a game due to a combination of injury and absence on FIFA U17 duty….

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Well it’s got to be Elton hasn’t it. A performer whose diva-like excesses have increased as his talent has gone on the wane. Incredible to think that an artist who put out an album as good as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road could also have produced such dross as “I’m Still Standing” and “Sacrifice”, a track which incredibly, given all the good stuff he did in the 70's, was his first no.1 hit single. And don't get me started on that nauseating Diana thing....

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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