Given the noisy fallout from Eastlands and the distracting events in Southwark it’s easy to forget that we visit Vicarage Rd on Friday evening for a Fourth Round FA Cup tie against Watford. But are the locals looking forward to a visit from Stephen Pienaar, Danny Rose and Kevin Bond? I went into the Hornet’s nest to put a few questions to one and find out.
Who are you and why on Earth are you a Watford fan?
My name is Simon, I am 25 and from Harpenden (just outside Watford). Watford have always been my local club and all my family have been following them for decades. I first went to a game at the age of 7 and have been a season ticket holder ever since. I’ve watched us be relegated to League 1 (then Division 2) and be promoted and relegated from the Premiership… twice! From season to season you never know where the Horns will be. On top of that, we have a bright yellow kit and a giant hornet for a mascot, what’s not to love?!
How have Watford been doing this season? You’re in the bottom half of the table I notice, is that where you expected to be?
Unfortunately yes. We’ve been tipped for the drop for the last 3 seasons in a row now, a consequence of no money and a small squad, largely as a result of poor management from the days of Gianluca Vialli and Aidy Boothroyd, who paid unsustainable astronomical wages. That said we over-performed last season under Malky Mackay finishing close to mid-table. We then lost Malky to a bigger club – Cardiff, and with that our top scoring striker Danny Graham amongst other players. This season we had a bad start but the new signings are beginning to gel and we look much stronger with a mid-table finish an attainable target. Our saving grace is that we have arguably one of the best academy set ups in the country, where the players are also educated at the academy to maximise training time. Ashley Young came through our system and we have many young players coming through including keeper Loach and Marvin Sordell a regular England U21 player. Truth be told we have been extremely unlucky and let in 11 goals in the last 15 minutes this season and have lost a lot of points because of this.
Who have been your best players? Anyone in the side who’s going to give us particular problems?
Sordell is our threat; he is the one player on the pitch who will catch defenders out. He has a habit of being quiet for periods but out of nowhere producing great skill and technique to score from nothing. Jonathan Hogg our central midfielder signed this season and has been outstanding in recent games – a young Scott Parker, incredible engine but also composed on the ball, it will be intriguing to see him compete against top midfielders.
And how about the manager, Sean Dyche? Are the fans behind him?
Initially he had a hard time, with no previous experience and a somewhat thuggish reputation as a player so expectations were low, plus the signing of Chris Iwelumo has proved shocking. But he has got the players playing for him and he’s doing well with what little resources we have and the fans understand that and are behind him for now.
Is it safe to mention what a fine young manager Brendan Rodgers is in your house?
No! Used us for half a season then ditched us – but he did save us from relegation.
Any strong opinions on Spurs? Any players you’re particularly looking forward to seeing or can’t stand the sight of perhaps?
I’d actually love Spurs to win the Premier League largely as I hate United. Players I’m keen on are Parker and Bale. We played West Ham this season and unfortunately they still had Parker – he ran the game. And I’d love to see Bale in action, although I would be very worried about how our full backs handled him! Only player I’d like to punch is Adebayor, but in fairness he is definitely a *****.
Redknapp will be very tempted to put out a below strength team I imagine. Would this be a mistake?
In 2008, Spurs only just beat Watford with a late goal from Bent in the Carling Cup quarters. Spurs put out a weakened side and until Bent came on it could have gone either way so yes that would be a mistake.
How is the magic of the FA Cup doing in Hertfordshire? Alive and kicking or barely a pulse?
Oh it’s kicking, it’s the biggest game of the season and a distraction from a grueling League campaign which doesn’t promise promotion!
And a few quick ones to sign off –
Any good pubs en route to the ground from Watford Junction station?
It’s all about The Druids! But for the away boys the Moon Under Water maybe…but can’t say I’ve been in on a Saturday afternoon. :)
Elton John or Adele?
GO ON ELTON
Graham Taylor or Taylor Swift?
If it was on a plate…probably Taylor Swift but that’s a tough one.
And finally a prediction for Friday night?
2-1 the Horns!!!
Thank you Simon.
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