Date: 24th May 2014 at 3:06pm
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The second of our Report Card articles. From Deeney to Ranégie…

9. Troy Deeney

Where to start with this year’s Players’ Play of the Season and Fans’ Player of the Season?

He hit 25 goals in all competitions despite a dip in form roughly halfway through the season, cemented his name as first on the team sheet under both Beppe and Gianfranco, and is a shoo-in for club captain should he stay next season with the apparent departure of Manuel Almunia.

He has been described as the ‘complete striker’ by both Sannino and Abdi, to name but two, and he has proven that he is one of the top strikers in this division.

His goals were often as spectacular as they were necessary, with as many different types of finish you can imagine with just one part of the body – yes, all of Troy’s goals were scored with his right foot.

As impressive as his exploits on the field have been this year, Deeney has shown himself to be the model professional when he’s not playing as well. He made sure he tried to speak to all of the guests at the End of Season Awards Dinner and was the last of the players to leave that night. (Incidentally a certain ex-Watford striker from Iceland was the last of the high profile guests to leave by my reckoning – perhaps a glimpse into Troy’s future there.)

The big question following his second successive 20+ goals season is Will He Be With Us Next Season? Which leaves the Pozzos with the old Is He Too Valuable To Sell? conundrum.

If rumours are to be believed, Deeney had offers from the Premiership last summer, but the big number nine opted to stay with us in a bid to try and get Watford promoted and repay the commitment shown to him on his return from prison early last season.

Whether he or the owners decide he should stay for next season remains to be seen, but he’d be a big loss both on and off the pitch if he does go.

If he does go, however, he’ll have earned his move to the top level, and I can’t begrudge him that.

I will ask you this though, Troy: Do you want to move to a Premiership club and play some part in keeping a team up or in mid table, or would you rather stay another season, score another 25 and become a veritable club legend?

Maybe that Community East Stand might need renaming in 20 odd years?

Have a think about it.

10. Lewis McGugan

We were all told to expect a player that blew hot and cold. We were told to expect a player who, on his day, could win games, but those days would not come around often enough.

We were all told he had serious potential. We were told he could be signing of the season.

This season was a solid start to Lewis McGugan’s Watford career, I reckon.

He did blow hot and cold, but he did also win us games on occasion (Doncaster at home sticks out). He does look like he has serious potential, but was he the signing of the season?

No. Lewis McGugan wasn’t signing of the season. I’d argue he wasn’t even Watford’s signing of the season, thanks to the January arrival of a Hungarian by the name of Daniel (more on him later). But he was a very good signing, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool.

And for free, as well. Let’s not forget, we didn’t pay a transfer fee for a player who came in and scored 10 goals from midfield, including a few absolute peaches.

His goal against his former club Nottingham Forest early on in the season was probably the pick of the bunch, especially given the circumstances. The scenes afterwards are a good shout for comedy moment of the season as well, with Iriney clearly not understanding the ex Forest man’s lack of celebration, pounding his finger on McGugan’s chest in frustration, as angry as he was baffled.

McGugan seems level-headed, if a bit of a cliché machine (thanks @WatfordTalk), and his stay at Watford will hopefully be prolonged and ever-improving.

A month or two after Beppe Sannino’s arrival as Head Coach, some fans – myself included – questioned whether McGugan really fit into the style of play that Sannino was looking to instil in the team. Sannino seemed to favour the terrier-like pairing of Battocchio and Murray, with a high energy pressing style that rewards chasing seemingly lost causes, as well as positional discipline in the middle of the park.

Perhaps McGugan’s elegance wasn’t as obviously industrious in order to suit Sannino’s tastes in the long run? I thought his role would diminish as Sannino’s reign continued. It hasn’t ended up that way though, with the Italian selecting McGugan almost every time he is fit enough to play.

He certainly hasn’t just made up the numbers in midfield, and he has performed admirably as a replacement for the injured Almen Abdi. He has got a propensity to shoot on sight rather than check who else might be around him, but his apparent selfishness is part of the reason that he contributes so much to the team.

You can’t always have it both ways – a player who scores goals from midfield often does so because they take risks on a regular basis. Or at least that’s why McGugan scores goals from midfield.

I can see McGugan pushing on next season. A midfielder with goals in him is a valuable asset to have, and I expect he’ll score another 10 in 2014/15.

11. Fernando Forestieri

Fernando Forestieri has gown into this league so much since the end of last season.

When he played early on in the 2012/13 season, he looked raw; extremely talented, but not used to the pace and physicality of the Championship.

This season, Forestieri has added a tenacity and work ethic to his game which, coupled with his immense natural talent, has made him into one of the most exciting players to have ever played for us.

If he had stayed fit for the full season, I honestly believe he’d have given Troy Deeney a run for his money for Player of the Season.

As it turned out, Deneey’s form continued to improve as the season tailed off, and Forestieri had to make do with the treatment room rather than the pitch as his toe injury couldn’t be shaken off before the season came to a close.

An important player for us, especially with the absence of an obvious second out and out striker in the squad until the arrival of Ranégie in January, Forestieri has contributed goals (seven), assists (three), and a surprising amount of genuine presence in the middle of the park both in and out of possession.

When he is on form he terrorises opposition defensive lines as well as opposition midfielders. These days, he works at getting the ball back in a – I’m not mad – Mooney-esque fashion.

This willingness to press and harry all over the pitch, as well as run in behind going forward, has seen Forestieri evolve into a truly excellent player at this level.

Hopefully the little Argentine-Italian will stay fit for the full 2014/15 season, and his ever-improving understanding of how this league ebbs and flows will mean he’ll be one of the trickiest opponents of next year’s Championship.

12. Lloyd Doyley

Mr Watford. Club legend. Lloydinho. A player I hope never turns out for another team.

It has been another solid season for Lloyd Doyley, who has once again forced his way into the first team considerations of yet another manager (well, Head Coach nowadays).

Appearing in 26 games over the course of the season shows that he is perhaps less of a constant than he has been in recent times, with 39 and 36 appearances for the two seasons before last, but two injuries over the course of last season has contributed to those figures not telling the whole story.

Doyley’s biggest critics lament his lack of ability in possession, which has been made more apparent by the new faces now surrounding him. Players like Marco Cassetti and Gabriele Angella are a couple of the most assured ball-playing centre backs we’ve ever had, so Lloyd will be hard pressed coming across as a Franz Beckenbauer type alongside those two. And rightly so, that wouldn’t be our Lloyd.

The point remains that Doyley makes an impact on the team whenever he plays. As (the amazing) BHaPPY points out, we won half the games that Lloyd was involved in, and fewer than 20% of those that he wasn’t.

UPDATE: 1.7 points per game when Doyley started, 0.91 without him. Thanks @PaulGWilson1986.

13. Mathias Ranégie

He’s a very tall Swedish striker,
He came here in January.
He’s yet to make the impact
I thought that we would see.

But if we give him game time
And a runner in behind,
I’m sure he’ll be an asset
Winning headers all the time.

So let us get behind him
Next season and beyond,
‘Cause should Troy Deeney leave us
…well, unless we get someone else in, he’s our only proper striker.

A player who seems to stroll rather than run, but remains effective despite his outward appearance. His disciplinary record leaves a lot to be desired, but his aforementioned ability in the air, as well as his ability to shield and keep the ball up front – shown to great effect at home to Blackpool and away at QPR – makes him a valuable player to have in this league.

If Troy Deeney does leave, I can’t see us not buying another striker, so how big a role Ranégie has to play next season remains up for debate. When he does play, he seems to guarantee at least a 75% success rate for flick-ons, but beyond this he has so far seemed unexceptional.

A good squad player to have, who has pretty much made his own luck in his stay at Watford so far with suspension keeping him out of contention far more than it should have.

Watch out for Part Three soon!