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Watford in summary 23:15 - Jul 30 with 11324 viewsNeil_SI

I came away from that impressed and encouraged by what I saw. It only took me five-minutes to realise we’ve improved from last season in lots of different ways.

It’s pre-season though, so you can’t get carried away both good or bad results and performances. These matches can be hard because the environment and circumstances are not the same as a competitive match.

But here is what I took away that I thought was really good.

Jake Bidwell and Jordon Cousins have improved us and their athleticism and mobility have altered the dynamics of the team. While we all love Clint Hill and Alejandro Faurlin, I thought it was really obvious the team were able to move up and down the pitch and compress and press the play much more easily here.

In addition, there are other improvements these two bring. Not only was Cousins’ positioning excellent, he read the play well and made some excellent interceptions before making simple passes to players in better positions. That’s crucial, as it’s easy to do too much and this allowed us to make some rapid counter attacks. He was also very vocal and I’m impressed by his tactical awareness. He guided other players into better defensive positions and continuously checked on those around him to make sure they were where they needed to be.

For Bidwell, there was a moment in the first-half where Grant Hall was hurt in a challenge as Watford threatened to break through. Bidewell spotted the danger from the other side and the speed he came across to cover and help was first-class. It’s this difference in tactical awareness and mentality that bodes well for us. Bidwell also used the ball very well and made simple passes, and the timing and distance of some of his passes put us and himself in some better attacking positions. If he carries on in that vein all season, he will become a clear contender for a player of the season shout. I really liked how he never passed too soon, which is a mistake a lot of defenders can make who don't quite have the creative aptitude of those in front of them.

But what about the rest?

Sebastian Polter put in a performance here that was his best for the club. It might be a pre-season match, but he led the line terrifically well and was a handful for Watford. He looked fitter, sharper and more confident and I was impressed by how much improvement we saw with his basics like his first touch, his hold up play, his ability to bring others into play and the timing of his runs and body style to win headers and flick ons. But he also had that burst and thrust that he didn’t have last season. He hit the bar with a fantastic header, but the goal he scored was utterly superb. He was able to take the ball around the penalty box, turn and get the ball out of his feet in order to take the touch that allowed him to power past his marker and fire home. A great strikers goal. If he plays like that consistently in the Championship, he will be one of the most feared strikers in the division. He linked well with Tjarron Chery as well, who was also very lively and found space between the lines excellently.

There was a nice balance about us throughout the match, and we looked decent and assured both in defence and attack. I liked how Chery pressed the defensive midfielder of the other team from behind if they had possession of the ball and how he and Polter dropped deep to make a wall that was difficult for the opposition to penetrate when they had the ball.

I liked how the defence dealt with Deeney and Ighalo, who were a handful, but who we managed to snuff out with some assurance. The defence looked comfortable on the ball and confident about where to hold their line and knew they had the pace to recover from a higher line.

We seldom wasted the ball when in possession too. We were calm and made good use of it, and we didn’t go direct too soon, but we didn’t hang around and dally on it too long either, and that’s because the midfield was mobile and full of technical players who were able to pick passes, play triangles, switch play or recycle possession appropriately. It helped that Polter was really on his game too, because they were able to go direct occasionally and know that he was likely to win his dual if they put it in the right vicinity.

I was also impressed at how well we pressed the play. We seemed to know when to press collectively and when to hold collectively and that allowed us to remain solid when without the ball and dangerous when we won it and could hit on the counter.

We pinched the ball high up the pitch on a couple of occasions, but it was how well we dealt with the transitions and turnover of play that impressed me most. We were fast if we lost possession, but even better if we were countering ourselves. We moved the ball quickly and seemed to know where to put it, which led to plenty of decent attacking moves that led to chances on goal.

All in all, there were some positive building blocks there to work with. If I were JFH, I’d have been very happy with that ahead of the Leeds match.

Obviously you can’t always tell how things will pan out when the real thing kicks in, and whether we will be a counter attacking team or one that’s going to have to try and break the opposition down. Here we looked excellent on the counter at times, but still did well when we had decent bouts of possession and played some really good football in patches. So it will be interesting to see how we cope with those scenarios once the season is underway.

The squad may be a little bit thin in depth, but we look like we have a fairly strong first eleven, who if we can keep fit and fresh, have more than enough about them to do well.

I think the key positions for me from watching that would actually be left midfield and right back, which is we can make consistent improvements to the performance levels in those areas, then we’ll be a very decent team indeed.

I heard some people complaining at the match, even when we were playing well, and saying that we looked a bit short and thin for players, but there's still a month to go before the window shuts and we'll very likely add to the squad before it closes.

The main thing is not to panic, there's plenty of time, and if I were the club, given the market rates we should think about the loan market if we're being priced out. We also need to be aware that with all the money in the Premier League, there is still a chance we could lose some players that we don't want to. But I'm sure the club realise that and have a plan of action for some of those possibilities.

I for one am looking forward to the season. I think we've made some very decent progress, and have signed well this summer and improved the first-team and have plenty of players in the ranks who are now in their second season and ready to take the next step forward too. While I don't know where we'll end up, my current feeling is we will be better overall than last time around.

p.s. kit and crest look superb. So happy with them.
[Post edited 30 Jul 2016 23:25]
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Watford in summary on 15:06 - Jul 31 with 2805 viewsrsonist

Great thoughtful read as ever. I haven't always agreed with Neil but his supportive take on the longer term is something that's all too rare among the fanbase.

Was very impressed yesterday but one note of caution is that Watford were very poor the more I think about them in retrospect. Part of that was our doing, but an equal part of that wasn't. I expect a much sterner more frustrating test against Leeds. But the signs of growth are certainly there on that evidence.

Also I think Bodvarsson will fit in well and improve us (without necessarily solving all our problems in one swoop). We will tire over a season playing like that so another Polter type is definitely welcome. Seems very suited to the fast counter, and his added workrate on the right should also hopefully mask Onuoha's shortcomings further.

Was slightly disappointed to read after the game that JFH isn't considering Washington as an option in Shodipo's position. Not saying that's his best role necessarily but I do think he can have something to offer there, and it should at least have been tried out. Hopefully what JFH means by that is we may have a few more formations up our sleeve depending on the situation.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 15:09]
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Watford in summary on 16:13 - Jul 31 with 2715 viewsDorse

Top stuff Neil. Loving your work.

'What do we want? We don't know! When do we want it? Now!'

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Watford in summary on 21:58 - Jul 31 with 2524 viewsmarkrtid

Wow! What a brilliant summary. And it was only a friendly.
Thanks for the time you spent Summarising.

Peace
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Watford in summary on 10:33 - Aug 1 with 2351 viewshoof_hearted

First time I've seen how good Luongo can be for a whole match. Cousins seemed to give him the freedom to move freely and he seemed to be the circulating the ball like a seasoned old pro - giving and moving all the time. He's going to be a big favourite for me if he keeps that standard up.
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Watford in summary on 11:31 - Aug 1 with 2299 viewsCFW

Thank you so much for an excellent report. I feel we are making good progress and with another couple of additions to the squad (which is a bit thin in places) we could do quite well in the league. I am NOT suggesting promotion/play off's etc as this years Championship is going to be tougher than ever but as long as we play well and give it our all I will be happy.

From the reports and watching the pre-season I think we all agree a right back, a wide man and another striker are required but there is still time and it would seam we have irons in the fire.
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Watford in summary on 21:43 - Aug 1 with 2122 viewsTGRRRSSS

ONe concern I have picked up on here is if Gladwin has mostly played on the left why now are we shoe horning him into the opposite flank?

This concerns and irritates me as I often feel is stymies the player in question and the team, unless they are truly good enough but even then I feel we're still (or anyone) by not utikising a player where he is happiest and will be most effective.
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Watford in summary on 23:29 - Aug 1 with 2046 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 14:54 - Jul 31 by BerkoRanger

I can certainly agree with the positive posters on this thread - I watched yesterday on my PC.
I was particularly impressed with the togetherness of the defensive unit. Indeed, Watford ended up shooting from distance because they couldn't get through. I also liked the look of Shodipo (spelling?) - his cross for the Polt was sublime. Indeed, I think we could easily have scored 4 or 5 yesterday.
I don't want to get carried away because we all know that the forward positions need strengthening but I think we can all have glasses half full for this season!
Incidentally, Chris Ramsey is a real gent. I met him a few weeks ago and he was more than happy talking to me about all things QPR.
Well done also to JFH and Les for the acquisitions so far.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 14:57]


I agree wholeheartedly about Ramsey. I've had the pleasure of chatting to him and think he's a thoroughly decent man who really knows his football. His passion for the game and his care for player welfare and standards is fantastic, but sometimes these things just don't work out, even when the person themselves deserve it.

I'm not sure I would have stayed at QPR in the same circumstance that he went through, but I am pretty pleased in the end that he has. I think he and the club have played it well since then, completely keeping him out of the limelight and focusing on the job at hand that he's doing. He will most certainly contribute positively to QPR. I've no doubt about that.
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Watford in summary on 23:33 - Aug 1 with 2039 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 15:06 - Jul 31 by rsonist

Great thoughtful read as ever. I haven't always agreed with Neil but his supportive take on the longer term is something that's all too rare among the fanbase.

Was very impressed yesterday but one note of caution is that Watford were very poor the more I think about them in retrospect. Part of that was our doing, but an equal part of that wasn't. I expect a much sterner more frustrating test against Leeds. But the signs of growth are certainly there on that evidence.

Also I think Bodvarsson will fit in well and improve us (without necessarily solving all our problems in one swoop). We will tire over a season playing like that so another Polter type is definitely welcome. Seems very suited to the fast counter, and his added workrate on the right should also hopefully mask Onuoha's shortcomings further.

Was slightly disappointed to read after the game that JFH isn't considering Washington as an option in Shodipo's position. Not saying that's his best role necessarily but I do think he can have something to offer there, and it should at least have been tried out. Hopefully what JFH means by that is we may have a few more formations up our sleeve depending on the situation.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 15:09]


Yes I found JFH's comments about Washington's role intriguing as well, but I kinda like it really, because Washington is a striker in the end and it's sort of sending out a message to him to forget about trying to adapt his game into something he might not be, and focus on being a striker that can produce the goods when called upon.

That focus may be the making or breaking of Washington while he's with us. Let's hope it works out positively for him.
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Watford in summary on 23:39 - Aug 1 with 2030 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 21:43 - Aug 1 by TGRRRSSS

ONe concern I have picked up on here is if Gladwin has mostly played on the left why now are we shoe horning him into the opposite flank?

This concerns and irritates me as I often feel is stymies the player in question and the team, unless they are truly good enough but even then I feel we're still (or anyone) by not utikising a player where he is happiest and will be most effective.


It's a perfectly decent question mate.

I'm not sure what the answer is. On one hand, Gladwin has a lot of attributes that make him a versatile player that you can mould. I think he's probably played left midfield, left back, left of a central pairing in the centre of midfield and probably behind the striker in his short career.

He's just one of those players that you can nuture into something and perhaps we've not worked out what we want to do with him yet, and while we're short in positions, we're asking him to cover and fill in those holes.

Obviously that's not particularly easy for someone who just a few years ago was playing in non-league, he's made quite the transition in a short space of time and is now being asked to fill different roles to make ends meet. It's a tall order, it would be even for accomplished professional's who've been around at this level for longer.

But in some ways, it also shows how highly he is regarded if they are willing to try him out in so many different spots. Really, with a bit of time and patience, and perhaps a little bit more love shown from us in the stands, he can excel and make the transition.

He's got to answer the questions about him though if he wants to survive here, there's no doubt about that.
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Watford in summary on 23:43 - Aug 1 with 2021 viewsPunteR

Watford in summary on 23:29 - Aug 1 by Neil_SI

I agree wholeheartedly about Ramsey. I've had the pleasure of chatting to him and think he's a thoroughly decent man who really knows his football. His passion for the game and his care for player welfare and standards is fantastic, but sometimes these things just don't work out, even when the person themselves deserve it.

I'm not sure I would have stayed at QPR in the same circumstance that he went through, but I am pretty pleased in the end that he has. I think he and the club have played it well since then, completely keeping him out of the limelight and focusing on the job at hand that he's doing. He will most certainly contribute positively to QPR. I've no doubt about that.


I've never met Ramsey but comes across as a decent guy. It is a shame how it went for him, he deserved his chance. I hope it still works out for him here. When you compare him to some managers we've had he was definitely not the worse.

Regarding Ben Gladwin I'd like to see how he'll play up top as a striker. I don't think he has much defensive nous and is more attack minded. Tbh I haven't seen much of him here just going on what my Swindon mate says.

Occasional providers of half decent House music.

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Watford in summary on 00:01 - Aug 2 with 1999 viewsrsonist

Watford in summary on 23:33 - Aug 1 by Neil_SI

Yes I found JFH's comments about Washington's role intriguing as well, but I kinda like it really, because Washington is a striker in the end and it's sort of sending out a message to him to forget about trying to adapt his game into something he might not be, and focus on being a striker that can produce the goods when called upon.

That focus may be the making or breaking of Washington while he's with us. Let's hope it works out positively for him.


Well, yes. You would have to hope though that there's an implicit acknowledgement in what JFH is saying that the team will be adapted to suit Washington a little better than it has been, if he is to focus solely on being a striker. I would be concerned if JFH sees it merely as a confidence/form issue.
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Watford in summary on 07:16 - Aug 2 with 1896 viewslondonscottish

Thanks Neil. Excellent report as ever. Looking forward to the Leeds game now.

Poll: Do you love or hate the new Marmite ad?

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Watford in summary on 10:32 - Oct 5 with 1613 viewsrsonist

Any chance of a Neil SI quarter term assessment? Would love to hear his thoughts if he has the time.
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