Editor Tom Bodell reflects on fifth consecutive home victory as Watford buried their recent hoodoo against Blackpool in style on Saturday
Editor Tom Bodell reflects on fifth consecutive home victory as Watford buried their recent hoodoo against Blackpool in style on Saturday…
Watford were comfortably the better side against Blackpool on Saturday, but much like Millwall on Boxing Day, this victory owed a lot to quite how poor a side the Tangerines were.
Mathias Ranegie`s 15th-minute header looked pretty free from the Lower Rous, but on second inspection on the Football League Show, it was clear that not one member of the Blackpool side had thought to mark the 6ft5in centre-forward. Prior to his goal, I had been readying myself to tweet something along the lines of: “For a bloke of his height, Ranegie has failed to win a single header so far!” – I didn`t, and the former Malmo man planted past Matt Gilks.
The third goal was even more calamitous, Blackpool skipper Gary MacKenzie getting himself into a mess before being harried into an ill-advised pass which Cristian Battocchio returned to Ranegie to finished coolly.
Whilst the Hornets were the better side by far, their authority was exacerbated by Blackpool`s propensity to shoot themselves in the foot.
As an aside, it can`t have gone unnoticed that since Lewis McGugan`s enforced exile due to injury, Watford have scored three goals from corners – the other two coming at Nottingham Forest – one hopes that Daniel Tozser will remain on corner kicks even when McGugan returns from injury.
On the subject of Tozser, the Hungarian was excellent again. In a season where more of Gian Luca Nani`s signings have been misses than hits, Tozser has rescued back a modicum of credibility for the under-fire director of football.
Admittedly I missed the trips to Yeovil and Bolton last week, but I`ve seen his other five appearances in a Watford shirt and I`m yet to see a bad performance from Tozser. That`s a view shared by almost all, particularly those situated in front of the corner flag in the south-west corner yesterday, who serenaded each kick with chants of ‘Sign him up`.
Tozser responded in kind by applauding the Rookery and appears to be enjoying his time here. One hopes that there`ll be no complications in turning his loan deal from Genoa into a permanent one in the summer – a midfield trio of Almen Abdi (hopefully), Tozser and one of Sean Murray, Battocchio and McGugan sounds appealing.
Another January addition to impress was two-goal Ranegie. The big Swede did well at Yeovil by all accounts and his ability was there for all to see on his home debut.
His height is the most obvious thing, but he showed some neat touches on the ball and equally, to win the ball, on one occasion darting in to rob the Blackpool defender on the far side before laying the ball off to the marauding Ikechi Anya.
Pleasingly there were also signs of a partnership being struck up with Troy Deeney, the pair linking up to good effect on several occasions. With Fernando Forestieri missing once again, it`s encouraging to know that there is another forward in the squad with which can not only work alongside Deeney, but add goals too.
One disappointment – and to my mind there was just the one – was Watford`s failure to start to second-half with the same intensity with which they ended the first. Two goals in four minutes just before the break had killed the contest off and it is almost always the case that a team in that position takes their foot off the gas, but Blackpool really were there for the taking, so to allow Barry Ferguson`s side to start the second period in a much brighter fashion was frustrating.
In the end, the Seasiders` possession counted for little as they mustered just two attempts on target, but against a better side, Watford would surely have paid the price.
Finally, away from the pitch, there were disgruntled fans on Twitter beforehand, condemning the inclusion of three centre-halves on Beppe Sannino`s bench.
One would expect to not have to use three centre-halves in a game and it does mean that the bench has less attacking options, but the only fit player who wasn`t included who wasn`t a centre-half was Luke O`Nien. If we`re going to be pedantic, then Ross Jenkins was also available, but do we even know where he is nowadays?!
With Samba Diakite and Joel Ekstrand suspended and Fitz Hall, Abdi, McGugan and Forestieri all injured, these were the 18 available to Sannino. Arguably the more prevalent issue is the balance of the squad. We signed another centre-half this week, and reading between the lines of what Lucas Neill has said, it was a case of him approaching the club, rather than vice-versa, which really does suggest an old pals act.
Of course, we have attackers out on loan – four to be precise – Javi Acuna, who is getting splinters in his backside at Osasuna instead, Diego Fabbrini, who is being hauled off after an hour at Siena instead, and Uche Ikpeazu and Bernard Mensah, both of whom are actually getting experience out on loan.
The problem with holding more than four strikers at the club is that someone`s not even going to make the matchday 18 on a weekly basis, and if that`s a youngster like Mensah or Ikpeazu, then it`s holding them back. If it`s Acuna or Fabbrini, you end up with someone playing the Alex Geijo role of being fourth-choice week-in, week-out and subsequently not being 100 per cent fit or sharp when their opportunity does finally knock.
The truth is that you`re damned if you do and you`re damned if you don`t, which is why the loan system is so useful for Football League clubs.