Time for our final installment of the player’s review, the strikers
Here`s the final part of our end of season player review, looking at the club`s strikers. In case you aren`t on board by now, anyone who has played for the first team, in any competition, gets reviewed.
9. Troy Deeney: 33 league starts + 7 substitute appearances (19 goals)
The Deeney story has been quite something, even without the fairytale ending of promotion, what Troy has achieved on and off the field this season has been absolutely remarkable so well done to him.
Regular visitors to Vital Watford will know that I was dead against Deeney pulling on the yellow shirt ever again, but after reading interviews with him on the official site, in The Watford Observer and having the privilege of speaking to him for his Vital Interview, it`s fair to say this is a young man who is full of remorse and determined to learn his lessons.
What`s almost is impressive is quite how fit he was upon his release. I had expected it to be weeks or months before he was in contention for a first-team place, but he clearly used his time inside constructively.
On top of that, he provided me with two of my moments of the season: the last-minute penalty winner at Huddersfield – every hair on my body was standing on end as the chant of ‘Deeney` went up – and of course, the last-gasp play-off semi-final winner against Leicester. Even from my recliner in Sunderland, that was an intense moment.
Those of you that have been regulars to the site for the past couple of seasons will know that this is not the first time I`ve had to eat humble pie regarding Deeney. In a conversation with chrisgwfc in 2011 I labelled him an ‘anti-footballer` and said we shouldn`t renew his contract. Luckily I`m not in charge of decision-making!
Deeney`s development purely on a football level in the last 18 months has been unbelievable. From a workaholic but ineffectual centre-forward shoved out on the wing to the first name on the team sheet and line leader, Deeney has improve every aspect of his game.
Quicker, sharper, stronger more certainly more prolific in front of goal, he fully deserved the contract extension he signed earlier in the year and it would be foolish of me to write him off at Premier League level. With the improvement he has shown in 18 months, anything is possible.
“Over the summer there was much speculation as to whether Deeney should remain a Hornet given his jail sentence for affray. However when he returned in September it was clear he had made a real effort to improve his game and repay the faith shown to him by the club and supporters. On the pitch he slotted straight back in and proved a vital cog in the wheel, providing a perfect foil for either Vydra of Forestieri. Ended up bagging 20 goals to boot and turning himself into one of the best strikers in the division. Only downside was his disappointing dismissal on the final day against Leeds which may have cost us the chance to win that game once the Hull result had come through.”
10. Chris Iwelumo: 4 + 3 (0)
Scorer of the season`s first goal in the Capital Cup First Round defeat of Wycombe Wanderers way back in August, Big Chris has recently departed for Scunthorpe after spending most of the campaign out on-loan at Notts County and Oldham.
Captain for August, Iwelumo`s time was always coming to end, it was just a case of waiting for Deeney`s release, Alex Geijo`s return from injury and Fernando Forestieiri to adapt.
A good, experienced, wily old professional to have around the place, Iwelumo would probably not have stuck around any longer than this had Watford still be owned by Laurence Bassini. At knocking on 35, he will be a good addition for Scunny.
“The man who got the Zola era off to a winning start with a typical Iwelumo goal against Wycombe. Played in the first 6 weeks of the season whilst others were settling in and did the type of job he does. A good professional who was undoubtedly good around the dressing room but clearly lacked the talent to make an impact in this seasons squad.”
13. Steve Leo Beleck: 0 + 5 (0)
There`s little you can say off the back of five substitute outings in the league – the last of which came in December – and just a cumulative total of 39 minutes in the Championship.
Beleck has since been re-loaned to Stevenage – perhaps his only valuable contribution exposing that little-known rule – where he also failed to make much of an impression.
20. Matej Vydra: 27 + 14 (20)
Quite possibly the most talked about loanee outside of Watford circles, the Czech Republic international has had a fantastic season taken as a whole. Drilling down and looking at the season properly, it`s a little frustrating that Vydra was unable to show the form he did during the winter, through the Spring.
The best finisher at the club by far – see his volley against Leicester in the play-offs or his stunner at Crystal Palace, neutrals – his all-round game has come on leaps and bounds throughout the season but whilst that improved, he looked less and less likely to score through March, April and May.
To cut the lad some slack, he is 21, on loan in a foreign country and doing so off the back of a season beset by injury last year. With 47 appearances in all competitions, this is by far and away the longest season of his young career and it is hardly surprising his form his dipped.
Nonetheless, a place in the Championship Team of the Seaosn, the Football League Player of the Season award and the club`s top-scorer, it`s been a thoroughly impressive maiden season in English football.
His talkative agent says he will be off, Giampaolo Pozzo says he`s staying. There`s little use in keeping a player who doesn`t want to be here, but he does still have a lot to learn and another season banging in the goals at this level would not hurt him, especially if those goals propelled both parties into the Premier League.
We wait with baited breath.
“Voted Championship Player of the Year and did very well to adapt to English football and endure a whole Championship season given his injury troubles the previous year. Broke the 20 goal barrier early on in the season and at his best looked by far the most clinical striker in the division. His last minutes winner on the opening day of the season at Crystal Palace was a fine indication of what he was capable of and immediately endeared himself to the Hornets faithful. Fitness probably caught up with him towards the end of the season and his goal drought no doubt rocked his confidence but the faith shown in him by Zola and the fans saw him bounce back in style against Leicester in the playoffs. Just a shame injury prevented him showing his best at Wembley.”
25. Joe Garner: 2 + 0 (0)
Two starts in early August constituted Garner`s Watford season, though the forward did take in a successful loan spell with Carlisle United before joining Preston North End permanently.
Having flopped miserably at Nottingham Forest and done exactly the same thing here, we can conclude two things: 1) He`s not cut out for this level and 2) Thank goodness we spent £200k rather than the £1m+ Forest spent on him.
36. Alex Geijo: 7 + 11 (2)
The Swiss-Spaniard could have been much more. In the play-off defeats by Leicester City and Crystal Palace he showed a lot of ability and put in his best two performances in the shirt, but by then it was too late, the majority had made up their mind.
Not as strong as Deeney, as nimble as Forestieri or as clinical as Vydra, he had earned the tag of being ‘not good enough` and nothing he could do would change that damning verdict.
Geijo was undoubtedly not helped by arriving with an injury which meant we did not see him until October. Nor was he helped by the fact that messrs Deeney, Forestieri and Vydra were all thriving by that stage.
At 30, it`s hard to second guess where he`ll be next season, but in my view at least, we could do a lot worse than taking him back for another year.
“There is no doubting that Alex Geijo is a talented footballer, but for one reason or another he ended up having little impact on the Hornets season. Being fourth choice behind three of the best attackers in the division always meant his opportunities were going to be limited, but when he played he often did pretty well and showed his football capabilities. His only problem were that there were three players better than him in his position. He showed a good ability to link up with Forestieri in the home game against Charlton but ultimately the fact he is more of a footballer than a battler means he is not a real alternative to Deeney.”
41. Fernando Forestieri: 19 + 9 (8)
A fan`s favourite, a talisman and the most technically gifted player at the club. All that and signed to a five-year contract. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, cynics.
Forestieri is another who took a little while to adapt to some of the facets of the English game – the rough-and-ready nature of the Championship, referees, fans and opposition players not in the least bit tolerant of diving and histrionics and so on.
But, he has tidied up his act and won the plaudits of several sets of opposing supporters over the course of the season for a series of stupendous displays. His man-on-a-mission-style showing at Huddersfield was something to behold, as was his hat-trick of assists at home to Blackburn or brace against Burnley.
How he wriggles out of some of the situations he finds himself in is beyond me, but he is an absolute joy to watch and undoubtedly one of the most talented players to pull on a Watford shirt in yonks. Through Twitter has made it very clear how happy he is to be here and to have signed a five-year contract. He is the poster boy for the Pozzo family`s model.
With only eight goals he can improve next season, especially now he has cut out the previous tendency of hitting the deck or giving up. Some responsibility lies with Zola too; all too often after a good showing or a goal he would find himself amongst the substitute for the next game with Vydra favoured. If Vydra does depart WD18 this summer, Forestieri is surely the natural replacement. One would suggest that regular football will also aide how lack of a killer instinct in front of goal.
“A good first season for Forestieri, another loanee who has thrown himself into the English lifestyle and became the first to join the club on a permanent basis. His game has developed well since the start of the season when he tricks and flicks outweighed his ability to be clinical around the box. This has improved as the season went on and ended up looking like the real deal in final part of the season. Scored some important goals against for example Sheffield Wednesday and looked our biggest threat in the playoff final against Crystal Palace.”
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think our Vital Watford`s marks by commenting below!