Date: 3rd January 2007 at 3:24pm
Written by:

New Year, New Faces, Old Hopes

In 2006 we started the year with a hope that little Watford might be able to establish themselves in the Premiership, prove that a small unpopular club with no money could match the status and spending power of the big boys.

Some things never change.

We start the year as the basement of the Premiership, 10 points adrift from ‘safety.` 10 points adrift from being teetering on the edge of the laundry chute leading down to the basement – currently occupied by last years surprise package, Wigan. Again we find ourselves aspiring to be where Wigan are. Last year we wanted to follow in their footsteps, and prove that work ethic and high tempo football has its place amongst the footballing elite. This year we just want to have another go next year.

However all is not lost. We do have 2 games in hand, and with necessary victories in those we could be a much less daunting 4 points from safety. That`s a win and a draw away from safety. With an incredibly kind run-in at the end that`s an achievable target – and that`s what this club is all about, achieving targets.

We earned the right to play premiership football, and the other teams in this league know that. There has only been one performance in which we possibly didn`t deserve any points, and that was against Sheffield United. But with a small squad, and with injuries to key players, I think we are allowed one bad showing a season. However unfortunately we`ve been getting much more bad showings from Lady Luck – someone we can`t influence.

As much as football is a squad game, when one is as small and young as ours, injuries do take their toll. Having the Championship`s top scorer, who received many reports of adapting to the Premiership, out for the season does affect the team. As if this wasn`t enough we have also recently lost are next best attacking threat in the form of Hameur Bouazza – played fantastically against Arsenal, and as punishment got injured – we forgot we weren`t allowed to compete with the footballing elite. We`re supposed to be whipping boys, and whenever we try to escape this we get punished. King plays well – gets injured, Bouazza plays well – gets injured, Shittu is one of the most solid defenders in the Premiership – gets injured, Priskin scores in his first Premiership start – match gets abandoned.

However as devastating as these situations are, we are in the right time of year to do something about it. January – a time of resolution, a time for us to resolve our luck.

It was promising to see us sign a new striker on the dawn of the first day, in the form of Moses Ashikodi – an England ever-present up to the u19 age group. This boy must have talent – he played for Millwall at the age of 15, and was on the books at Rangers – one of the Old Firm, a highly respected place to ply your trade. Although that is all he brings so far, promise. We need someone who can bring experience and stability, someone who knows the needs of a relegation dogfight, someone whose been there and done it – a Malky Makay of the Premiership if you will.
The fact that he has signed and so quickly does show that we are active in the transfer market – which is what we need to be. We need goal-scoring, and we need stability in the middle of the park. Then there`s no reason why we can`t maintain our Premiership status – maybe apart from the fact that when another team looks in trouble they get an £80 million takeover.

It`s our New Year resolution to get what we deserve – a spot in the premiership next season. There is something wrong if an established team who lose 6-0 to a newly promoted side manage to stay in the Premiership ahead of a team who have matched every opponent faced with, no-one has played us off the park this season, even when we lost 4-0 to Chelsea, we actually matched them fairly well – but they have Didier Drogba, a clinical goal scoring machine.

The only opponent we haven`t matched yet this season is Fate, and it`s going to be our toughest one to overcome this season.

By Stuart Brown