Watford: losing their identity?

The football journalist Michael Calvin believes Watford has lost its identity under the ownership of Giampaolo Pozzo, and has made a point of saying this whenever the club is attracting media attention. When Watford’s manager, Beppe Sannino, resigned from the club yesterday, this is how Calvin responded.

But, what does that even mean? A football club’s identity is a pretty nebulous concept, and when challenged to explain what he meant:

I like Calvin, but this is complete bollocks. The Watford Observer’s report on Sannino’s sacking highlighted the owners’ concerns with Sannino’s training methods, and his relationship with the players. I don’t think he failed because he couldn’t grasp that the club was important to the local community. Watford fans liked Sannino, and he liked them. The connection was as much as you expect from any manager in modern football – he wasn’t in the pub pulling pints, but he spoke about the fans in every interview, he always acknowledged and thanked them.

In terms of being a community club, there’s no evidence that Watford’s reputation here has suffered under the Pozzo’s ownership. The club continues to send first team pros to events at schools around the town and surrounding area, and the pre-season open day is extremely popular with younger fans and families, who get to mingle with the players. Nothing remarkable, granted, but the club does seem to have a presence beyond the stadium.

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A pig in a Palmeiras shirt


I was feeling a bit down, back at work after a total washout on Bank Holiday Monday, and it’s still raining… and then I saw this guy.




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Are Leeds United still a big club?

Giant Club

Leeds are not a club that seem to win much support from the neutrals (if such a group exist). They’re one of the old school villains of football, and fans who have no real reason to dislike Leeds still seem to turn against them, because they’re Leeds, dirty Leeds! But, this pantomime hatred suggests Leeds have an enduring status in English football. Surely, only a club that mattered would be reviled in such a way. Whenever you read or hear anything about Leeds, it often includes the suggestion that they belong in the Premier League, or even that they have ‘rightful place’ there.  You might think that a decade of football in the second and third tier would dampen the aspirations a little, but this is Yorkshire and it doesn’t work like that. The question is, having bottomed out in League One, are Leeds still a big club?

For those of us who’ve been hanging out in the Championship for a while, it’s always satisfying when a big fish gets caught by relegation from the Premier League. It gives you something extra to look forward to when the fixtures are released. Leeds were definitely a big club when they came down; they had been in the Premier League since it was founded, had Champions League experience, and a 40,000 capacity stadium. And, get this – according to Wikipedia – when the East Stand opened in 1992-93 it was the “largest cantilever stand in the world”. Bow down! Leeds in the Championship definitely felt odd at first, and it must have been even weirder in League One. But, that was ten years ago, and things change.

When Nottingham Forest were relegated in 1993 that was also big deal – they had been one of the better teams in England for the past decade and a half, and it was unthinkable that they were no longer good enough for the top. I was delighted, though, because it meant they’d be coming to face Watford at Vicarage Road. Twenty years later they’re regular opponents, and I’m disappointed if we don’t take any points from them. This is a team that won the European Cup, twice! I still consider it one of the bigger fixtures in the League, but to many younger fans Forest’s history won’t mean anything, just like Preston North End’s means nothing to me.  The same is starting to apply to Leeds, they’ve been away for too long. To illustrate the point, Fulham (13), Bolton (13), and Middlesbrough(14) have all spent more time in the Premier League than Leeds (12).

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Thoughts on 2014/15

Sean Dyche

Another year. A few things to look forward to and a few things to dread in unequal measure

No more laughing at United 

Before writing this I had a quick look back at United’s results last season because I’d almost forgotten how shit they were. David Moyes’ side lost so many times at Old Trafford that it completely devalued the achievement of winning there. Even Pardew won there. EVEN PARDEW.

It wasn’t just the defeats, either. It was the pervasive sense of blunder that accompanied everything United did. I mean, that story about Moyes’ high tech bunker was risible enough, but the full extent of their fall from the heavens was revealed when Steve Round got snapped with that ring binder at Everton. That was the final straw. Here was a club that had swaggered all over everyone for two decades, reduced to waving printouts that looked like they’d been knocked up in the school graphics department. And, of course, there was the plane, laying bare the breadth of twattery that exists within United’s fanbase.

The thing is, that’s happened. It’s done, and you sense that come October, it will feel like very ancient history indeed. While the arrival of Louis Van Gaal does not guarantee trophies it almost certainly rules out a repeat of last season’s humiliations. We’ve only had a handful of pre-season games but the swagger is already returning.

United fans are already bristling at the prospect of being good again, and will no doubt ram it down everyone’s throat if they are. Expect them to be unbearable.

Kind of wish I’d piled in more now.

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I tried to save Glenn Roeder’s Watford career

Ah, pre-season and the transfer window. Spurious conjecture and wild speculation command the attention of millions. It’s a great time to be alive, but back in the mid-90’s times were tough. You had newspapers, the odd paragraph on Teletext, and for the truly desperate, ClubCall – a premium rate phone line for fans to listen to pre-recorded transfer gossip.

Watford’s transfer targets rarely made the back pages of the nationals, so most of the significant information came from the Watford Observer – the local weekly paper. One update a week. It was hell, and in the summer of 1994 I could not wait to find out where Watford would be investing the large sums they had received from the sales of Paul Furlong and Bruce Dyer. Selling Furlong in particular was a huge blow, given that he was arguably the most complete centre forward in England at the time. But, despite the loss of such an irreplaceable talent there was also sense of expectation, because Watford had actual money to spend – a new experience for me.

Being naïve I assumed they would invest a good chunk of it on the team, which meant the manager, Glenn Roeder, could be pretty ambitious with his targets. I started to dream about a big name signing to shove in the face of the haters at school, especially Paul Lewis, the Luton fan I sat next to in maths. That smug bastard was already boasting about their new forward line of Plymouth’s Dwight Marshall and Peterborough’s Tony Adcock. We needed to think big.

However, after waiting a couple of weeks and hearing nothing about a new striker, I started to panic. Why was this all taking so long? I realised Glenn might need some help identifying suitable targets, so decided to lend him the benefit of my detailed knowledge of football things. Based on my expert insights and tactical nous I managed to narrow my focus to one target: Kevin Campbell.

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