Let me break with tradition and address a subject where I know what I’m talking about.
Well, almost. I’m going to write about strikers, and I was one – albeit in Division 5 of the West Fulham League, more years ago than I care to remember. But you know what they say about strikers: if you can score goals at one level, you can score at any level.
Sadly, whoever said that hadn’t spent much time watching Division 5 of the West Fulham League. Ted McDougall would’ve done as much in ten weeks there as I did in ten years (and still wouldn’t have smiled). Even Dean Coney would have banged them in.
Unfortunately too, a couple of MFW readers actually played with me in that iconic Capital Canaries side, so I can’t stretch the truth of my accomplishments as much as I’d like to. Ah, but I remember the thrill of the goals and the roar of the crowd (well, the roar of the man and the bark of his dog).
So, I speak with special authority on the subject of City’s current strikeforce.
The good news is that we have all the attributes of a top striker: power, pace, subtlety, aggression and clinical finishing. The bad news is that those qualities are spread across five players.
I’m biased of course, but I reckon you’re as good as your strikers and having a potent attack makes all the difference. As long as McDougall and Phil Boyer were on the pitch, something good could happen for us. The same applied to Chris Sutton, Mark Robins, Iwan Roberts, Robert Fleck – yes, and Grant Holt at his best.
Our current group is interesting and frustrating in equal measure. Two are big-money signings from our previous time in the Premiership, but they’re being eclipsed by two more modest signings from a year ago.
Cameron Jerome (the power) and Lewis Grabban (the pace) are clearly the main options in the manager’s mind, and both have served us well – thank you, Neil Adams.
Grabban didn’t particularly impress me at the start of last season, despite his early goals, but he’s blossomed under Alex Neil and now looks the part.
In contrast, I’ve always admired Jerome – and that admiration reached new heights with his Wembley performance. I’m told he’s desperate to shake off the “not quite good enough for the Premier League” tag, and that hunger could make him a good first choice for us.
The great enigma is perhaps not RvW, but Hooper. He’s the most natural finisher at the club, and can play a bit too – we’ve seen excellent link-up, and in particular some lovely interplay with Wes.
Usually those qualities would guarantee a first-team place, but successive managers haven’t been persuaded to do it. Some fans are incredulous about that, but I can see why: for too much of too many games, he goes missing. You can’t carry someone who contributes so little, however good the little is.
A final word – from me, at least – on our Ricky. Regular readers will know that I’m on the ‘anti’ side of the debate. I say that in sadness rather than anger, and while recognising his virtues. He has genuine footballing ability, works for the team and cares – more than can be said of some who’ve donned the Canary jersey in the past decade.
I also feel a bit bad because I’ve suggested that his fans are blinkered – that they want to give him umpteen chances and are over-influenced by his cuteness.
The fact is we all have favourites, players whose shortcomings we tend to overlook and whose virtues we praise to the skies. We get defensive when they’re criticised, and are outraged when others don’t rate them as highly as we do.
For many City fans, it’s Wes. For me it’s Jonny Howson.
The real way to provoke reaction to an article, it seems, is to talk about Watford rather than Norwich. So a quick word on our fellow new boys (and my nearest club)…
Watford fans are quick to tell us how committed their club is to British talent, and how only a couple of their ten signings have come from Pozzo family connections. Well – up to a point, Lord Copper.
Two of their all-foreign summer signings have come direct from Udinese (Vydra, in particular, must be dizzy from the Pozzo merry-go-round) but it doesn’t end there. Watford’s signing of Miguel Britos from Napoli, for instance, was made possible by Udinese letting Napoli have a replacement.
An unfair advantage? Everyone must decide for themselves – I couldn’t possibly comment.
Gary Field says
Stewart, excellent article, which gets to the heart of our main predicament.
Our biggest problem last time in the Premier League was the lack of goals, just 28 in total.
Again many of the pundits are questioning our ability to score goals at this level and, whilst I don’t think we’ll be anywhere near as bad as last time, it does remain a concern.
PS – nice baiting, but just wait until tomorrow! 😉
Not that it was but player swap deals are as old as the game itself and so what that Vydra didn’t want to commit to a contract before promotion was achieved, it’s hardly iffy is it?
Unfair advantage! laundering! WTF are you on???(there again if I was a Norwich fan I’d probably be looking for straws to clutch too).
“Watford fans are quick to tell us how committed their club is to British talent”
I’m a Watford fan and I’m not sure that’s true. We’ll wait and see how the season pans out before leaping to final judgement but at this stage I’d much rather have 31 year old Serie A runner up and Greek international left back Jose Holebas, who kept A Cole out of the Roma team last year, for £1.8m than £8m of English ‘talent’ in Tyrone Mings.
Cosmo P. says
You forgot Lafferty – easily done. Maybe only Aguero and Sanchez have all the qualities you want in a striker. As they are out of our price range, then we have to settle for slightly less.
Jerome gets you off your seat with his power and dynamism. Grabban divides opinion but seems to be the boss’s favourite starter so that’s good enough for me. Hoops came with a big reputation from Scotland but not since Kenny Dalglish has that counted for much. He’s had his chances to make himself indispensible and just not worked hard enough for it. Ricky? I wish him well but he probably needs to start again somewhere new.
Watford’s unenviable transfer policy?
Stewart Lewis says
Cosmo (4) – Lafferty was the ‘aggression’ in my equation.
Couldn’t think of much more to say about him.
Steve the Hornet says
Watford fan here. The contention before was that:(1) a disproportionate amount of our players were foreign; (2) they would not care for the club as much as those from the British Isles, and; (3) we’d forgone our youth system. All of which were demonstrably untrue.
With the 10 (so far!) all foreign signings, this (#1) may now become the case (not that it’s an issue for us but rather one that you take exception to). #2 is a new risk but with the evidence of social media, yesterday’s Open Day and pre-season. #3 we’ve seen even greater involvement of youth players in the squad and yet further investment in the infrastructure, so no worries there.
Moving on to strikers, I think you’re buggered. Cameron may come good but you really need to sign a reliable striker. Otherwise, you’re looking for a strong squad that compensate… and yours is a bit second rate IMHO. That’s why, on the current squad you have, I’ve got you down for relegation certainties; probably last. And I say that with no malice.
Regardless, I wish you a good season.
P.S. Great clip – rewatched the series about 2 months ago. Still brilliant.
Napoli signed Allan from Udinese for 11 million euros. We signed Britos from Udinese who was part of the deal as Napoli did not want to pay 14 million euros and the Pozzo family were interested in Britos anyway so he was included as part of the deal.Nothing new in that in football. Seeing as we have so far paid Udinese 7.5 million euros for Vydra and they bought him for 4 million, I do not think they have done too badly. You can be sure that we will be paying Udinese a sum for Britos. Both Britos and Vydra were available for Transfer so you could have bid for them. I would suggest that your ask your owners to invest in a Global scouting network like ours if you are jealous of us buying foreign talent.
Our two clubs have different owners and transfer policies. You like to buy home grown talent at what our owners consider inflated prices whilst we go for foreign players from a value considered basis. It will be interesting which works out the best this season. We will have trouble settling all these players in but if the majority do adapt then we have a decent chance of staying up. Yourselves have gone for a cautious approach and for sticking with a squad which got you relegated two years ago.
With regards our academy I suggest you do your homework a bit better as some of the academy players have been signed on three and four year contracts. I notice from your website that your players are given just two years. So your point is?
Of course with us now being in the prem it is going to be difficult for any of them to break into the first team while we try to establish ourselves but is this different from a lot of other clubs in this league. You only have to look at this weekends starting line ups to notice that.
Premier League Pedant says
Cameron ‘The Power’ Jerome and Louis ‘The Pace’ Grabban certainly have a nice ring to them. I agree with Cosmo except I’m more pro-Hooper. I think he has that bit of magic up his sleeve which we may have to call upon in the big league. That ‘Hoolahoop’ combination Sterwart mentions isn’t something you can just go out and buy.
Yes, they do say you’re only as good as your strikers, but they also say that every good team is built on a solid defense, and that games are won and lost in midfield. They probably say something about keepers too. Apparently Arsenal are now contenders for the title because they bought Petr Cech.
Watford are as good as relegated. They’ve brought in so many foreign players from all over the place that they will just piss off the core squad who got them promoted. However, they are also just doing a QPR and look what happened to them! Watford will have a group of individuals who won’t play as a team and definitely won’t have a 18 goal a season to give them even a slim chance of staying up! Good championship club, not a premiership one!
Lewis Stewart says
Exciting times at Vicarage Road – that’s why I was amazed at the preseason game against Sevilla. Not by the result (Watford 0 Sevilla 1) but the size of the crowd. First game at home under the new boss, all the big money signings on show, reigning EL champs in town..less than 9000 turned up! Poor effort. Norwich got more through the gates for Brentford on Saturday.
You posed the question as to whether the fact that Watford is owned by the Pozzo family has given Watford an unfair advantage. It’s an interesting question, but one I think needs to be answered in two stages.
Firstly, does the fact that Watford is part of the Pozzo group give them access to players they otherwise wouldn’t have had? I think the answer to that is of course yes. Vydra, Abdi, etc are unlikely to have gone to Watford without the Pozzo connection.
However, the key question is whether this advantage is “unfair”. In my opinion, the answer is resounding no. Having access to these players is no different to a billionaire owner coming in to a small club and allowing them suddenly to buy players they couldn’t previously afford. Provided the clubs stick to the rules, no advantage is being gained that others could not also use.
So does Watford have an advantage? Yes. An unfair one? No.
Jan Rudzki says
For me is No. 1 striker Jerome. Not only power, but also his pace and finishing makes him best forward in the team. And my opinion on RvW? He is the reason why I started supporting Norwich 2 years ago. Obviously, he disapointed me scoring only goal in whole season while in BPL, but he had solid season in France and now, under Neil, its on him to take a second chance and break through. I believe in him, but if he wont success this time, I think its end of Wolf era here.
As my wife’s family come from Norwich I have the discussion on attendance on a regular basis with them. Watford is a town with a population of around 90,000. Norwich however is a city with nearly 400,000 people. Watford have around 30 other professional clubs within 50 miles of Vicarage Road while Norwich has none. The fact that Watford have a regular attendance in the region of 20,000 is, in my opinion, actually pretty good. As Norwich is 4 times larger than Watford, should Norwich be getting crowds of 80,000 each week assuming the stadium could accommodate such numbers?
I totally accept Watford is a small club which is probably punching above its weight but your comparisons on attendance are pointless without taking into account a whole host of factors, a couple of which I have mentioned.
The population of Watford is 90,000 people. The population of Norwich is 213,000. So quite a difference. So in terms of supporters per head of population I would suggest that we more than match you.
Gary Field says
When it comes to attendance figures, it’s only ever been “bums on seats” that counts.
“There again, if i was a Watford fan, I’d be looking at straws to clutch to.” 😉
That is just the sort of brainless comment I expect from some supporters on this website!
Mike C says
And what a hornet’s nest this has stirred up!
Watford yada yada, small town? Like within the M25; population of 90,000, sorry? 30 clubs within 50 miles and in the same radius 8 million people. Living off scraps that don’t quite make it at Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, Brentford, Orient, Palace etc etc etc. until the Pozzos’ arrive and build a new Meccano stand that looks fit for the Conference. No offence, just saying!
One question though – if Watford are the golden boys, why do they play in yellow?
I think Paul (11) hit it on the nose, “Having access to these players is no different to a billionaire owner coming in to a small club and allowing them suddenly to buy players they couldn’t previously afford.” Bournemouth anyone?
Lewis Stewart(2) says
Simmos/golden boy60 – city population and football crowd size can’t just be scaled up or down the way you assume. Not every Norwich citizen is interested in the fate of the local football team.
If we had 80,000 desperate to get in every other week, we’d be moving to something a little bigger!
It wasn’t a comment on your average league attendance which clearly is influenced by which other London teams are at home that weekend. It was a point about a one off chance to see one of the best teams in Europe – with a new stand – new team – new manager and I’m assuming the ticket prices had been lowered too – no excuses for such a poor turnout. I’m guessing Sir Elton didn’t make it? Delia never misses a game.
Good luck at Everton.
Stewart Lewis says
Thanks everyone for the various comments. They made me think and check a few things, not least the population of Norwich.
Some fine rebuttals to my attacks on Watford’s youth system, commitment of foreign players and attendances. With the slight problem that I never attacked any of them, so not much to say there.
Mick (7) – good to have you back. But I’m a bit puzzled, as usual, by your points. The amounts being paid in transfers between Udinese and Watford are surely a bit academic, since the same hand is giving and receiving. The Pozzos being smart business people, I’m sure they calibrate these trades for best advantage (and tax-efficiency) across the group.
As to the suggestion that Vydra and Britos were equally available to anyone, I can’t help smiling. If the Pozzos wanted to make a trade within the family (as it were), can you seriously suggest it was a free market? If so, a number of words could be used to describe you – I’ll stick with naive.
Paul (11) – I might pick some nits with your argument, but no problem with the way you make it. Respect.
My mind is still swirling with the population figures being thrown around. For clarification, a like-with-like comparison for Watford’s 90,000 is the City of Norwich at 132,000. To stretch the Norwich catchment to 213,000 (let alone 400,000) would include those with a train journey to Norwich longer than central London to Watford. So Watford’s equivalent figure would be 10,090,000. Oops.
Enjoying the exchanges – keep them coming.
Let me explain for you. All three clubs are run as independent businesses due to its supporters and Group owners wishes as they have to stand on their own two feet as a business model. They are under the same Group ownership which is very common in the business world which football has now become part of.
West Ham were after Vydra and bid 8 Million. If they had bid the sum wanted which was Ten Million Vydra would have been sold. I’m sure if you had wanted Britos then Napoli would have sold to the highest bidder. We found that out as Leicester have signed Inler who we were after from the same club but we were not willing to pay 4 million for him.
Andy B says
Interesting post and no surprise that at the slightest mention of Watford in the article it’s stired up the proverbial hornets nest!
The one point i would make about strikers is how they are becomining decreasingly influential in a teams overall performance. Unless of course you can afford a seriously good one.
People talk endlessly about the need to have a 15-20 goal a season striker but that doesnt ring true anymore. If you are challenging for a top 4 place and can afford an Aguero, a Costa or a Sanchez then great. You may be lucky to get a Charlie Austin or unearth a Harry Kane but that doesnt always mean you stay up. If you look at the following clubs top EPL scorers last year(Diouf/Stoke – 11, Ulloa/Leics – 11, Lukako/Everton – 10, Sakho/Wham – 10, and Gerrard who was Liverpools top scorer with 9 it proves that you only need the odd player to hit double figures to stay up. What seems increasingly important is that a side doesnt concede too many goals (QPRs downfall) or you have midfielders who can chip in with goals.
Whilst we may lack a bit up front I am fairly confident that Norwich have enough goals from a varied, talented & attacking midfield unit and if we are to survive then we need those midfielders to be bagging 5-10 a season.
What I am more nervous about is a defence which up to now has not been significantly strengthened.
Time will tell.
I do not know when any Watford fan has been on here saying we are committed for British talent. I wished we bought more players who were but I also understand that they will not have their pants pulled down and totally understand their business model which has proved so successful.
You questioned how committed we are to our academy and I have pointed out to you that we sign our players onto longer contracts than Norwich in the belief that they show potential for either the first team squad or as a transfer option and yet you do not answer my actual facts?
Gary Field says
@20 Mick – interesting observation you make in relation to Vydra and the supposed interest from West Ham.
I accept that transfer dealings are notoriously opaque, but his fee upon joining Watford was widely reported as undisclosed.
Did you really pay £8m to £10m for him?
I very much doubt it and that really underlines the point on ownership. Clearly, there will be occasions where they will go for every last penny, but I suspect that there will be times when they don’t. This probably being one of them.
Stewart Lewis says
Andy B (21) – Excellent point.
It’s about how many you score, not who scores them (and of course whether you can score more you concede). Goals from midfield were crucial to Norwich last season, and I suspect will be again.
Mick (20) – Glad you acknowledge the point – ultimately the critical one – that the three clubs are under the same group ownership. In the business world I encountered many such conglomerates. They always produce separate accounts for the different businesses and claim them to be run independently – but they never actually are. If they were, what’s the point of a conglomerate?
As an aside, that’s why Britain’s energy market is so good for the big companies running it and so bad for consumers.
Stewart Lewis says
Mick (22) – Sorry these are getting a bit out of sequence.
I’m trying to find where I questioned how committed Watford is to its academy. I’m certainly getting senile, but I never meant to and don’t think I actually did. Perhaps you can give me the reference? Cheers
8,947 for a friendly is just under half our expected attendance for next season, played on a Friday night and not a competitive match during the holiday season. Norwich attendance against Brentford was 10,606 for a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon but was only just over a third of what you expect next week. Where were all the loyal Norwich fans to see your friendly after your glorious day out at Wembley? (congrats on the win).
With regard to the population of Norwich I have cut and past below a sentence from Norwich Research Park facts and figures.
“420,000 people live within a 30 minute drive of the city centre.” Therefore I took my stats from a Norwich based site
#Gary. If bums on seats are all you look at, why are Norwich so poorly attended in comparison to say other major cities such as Manchester and Liverpool which have two teams? Surely Norwich should be getting crowds of around 80,000 with just one team from the city. As Lewis says @ 18, if you had 80,000 desperate to get in you would move to a bigger ground but the support for Norwich is just not there. That is not meant as a criticism but so many factors need to be taken into account before making comparisons.
Google it the appropriate populations then…..
And we are in competition with Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham etc.
Who are you in competition with then? Do you lot go and watch Ipswich? Who by the way are a much friendlier club than you lot.
Jason Barrett says
Nice article Stewart.
As someone who played alongside you and Mick Dennis in that Capital Canaries side on the home pitch at Marble Hill Park and other such celubrious pitches around the conurbations of Streatham, Acton, Isleworth etc.. and having provided you many through balls from my central midfield position, I can say you could put the ball in the net with un-erring regularity and would surely have been at least as prolific as Dean Coney in a Canaries shirt on the hallowed turf!
Of course the crux of any Premiership survival will ultimately revolve around your team being able to score enough goals to win games and with clean sheets at a premium this will often mean scoring at least 2 in 90 minutes.
Do we have the strike force to do this for us? Well i am not sure but with the bullying potential of Jerome we have our new “Grant Holt” and with the pace of Grabban we have something to start with that may turn out more exciting than last time in the Prem when the dust finally settled from the fanfare arrival of RvW!
Historically you could argue that most clubs coming up have never had the money to buy a 30+ million pound striker to cause established Premiership clubs the necessary mayhem at the back to gain 20+ goals and so its just as important to look at where your goals can come from midfield and rearguard players.
I think we proved last season we have plenty of players with an eye for goal and with A.N at the helm I dont expect our lineups to be motivated to rearguard defending for 86 of the 90 minutes which was often how it felt under Chris Hughton.
Am I optimistic there are 3 teams worse than us in the Prem this sesson? Damn right I am! But to avoid confrontation, its probably best to keep that list to myself!
Bob in Diss says
Cracking preseason banter everyone! If the new season is half as entertaining, then we’ll all have no complaints.
I make this the third major ‘exchange’ between Canaries and Hornets in recent months on here. Can we agree to make it a monthly item through the season? This is the first not to mention the Hoolahan penalty incident (so far), so maybe things are improving.
Personally, I admire Watford’s forwards but little else – looking forward to seeing how the Brazilian keeper fares this time in the PL.
May the best team in yellow come out on top.
Golden boy (27) – Ipswich were friendlier to you because you lost twice to them last season. We beat them 3 times which has just peed them off even more at us.
Stewart Lewis says
Jason (28) – Great to hear from you.
I remember converting some of your through balls! But that reflects mostly on the quality of the passes (and the speed of defenders) than the quality of my finishing. Still, happy days.
Budget-wise, City are of course a minnow in the big pond of the Premier League. But your optimism – and the reasons behind it – sound right to me.
After his first season with us WH bid 8 million. They turned this down as they wanted 10 million. This was why he was sent on loan to West Brom in the hope that he would shine. He didn’t due to persistent hamstring trouble then Steve Clarke getting the sack and a new manager who did not fancy him as a main striker.
His stock has fallen somewhat and we have paid Udinese 5 million for him this summer as a Championship striker with something to prove.
I and you have no evidence to say that they are not run independently so I and yourself cannot really comment can we.
In your article you mention and I quote ” Watford fans are quick to mention how they are committed to British talent”. I have not seen that except that our academy supports players with longer contracts than Norwich do! Enough said and I think that makes this comment completely untrue.
Gary Field says
@26 – Simmos – the 80,000 figure is yours, not mine, and is a complete nonsense as a benchmark. Not even Manchester United get that every week.
If you saw the recent Sky survey on attendances for each club last season, with a comparison of average attendance vs capacity, Norwich were 11th on the list, out of 92, with a 96.88% attendance.
26,370 average against a capacity of 27,220 seats.
Watford were 29th on the list – 79.83% of capacity, average of 16,664 with 20,877 seats.
If you want to know how our average compares against all teams, it was 16th, Watford were 35th best.
As you say, many factors come into play, but I think we’re doing better than average in the overall scheme, don’t you?
Gary Field says
@31 Mick – thanks for the clarifying. It wasn’t clear, to me at least, from your earlier posting, that the West Ham interest was historic. I thought you were suggesting it was this summer.
Lewis Stewart(2 - part 2) says
My doppelganger Stewart Lewis states the correct population figures for Norwich (the city) and Watford i.e. Norwich is about 1.5 times bigger.
More telling perhaps is the comparison of followers of the official club’s twitter sites – Norwich has 254k compared to Watford’s 79k – that’s 3.2 times bigger. Either we’re a far better supported club or more electronically savvy?
Being such a multi-national side, I would have expected more of a Hornets following on twitter.
Check mate I think.
#32 Gary – Thank you for directing me to the survey from Sky but like so many other things with Sky it is of course wrong and I think you know that. Prior to our new stand being built the ground capacity was around 17,500. The Elton John stand only partially opened in November and was fully operational in December bringing capacity up to the 20,877 you mentioned (although we lose quite a lot of seats from that capacity dividing up the Vicarage Road Stand). The average attendance at Watford of 16,664 was taken over the whole season and therefore does not take into account the reduced capacity we had for half of that time.
In any event the figures you quote are not entirely appropriate. If for example Norwich had a 40,000 capacity would they have filled that every week last season? I suggest it would be doubtful and as such your percentage would have fallen. Norwich have made their capacity smaller for very good reason and that is scarcity value will drive up the price of a matchday ticket. That to me makes excellent business sense but just because the ground is nearly always filled doesn’t mean you are the 11th best supported team in the country as the survey perhaps implies. In fact it is a little embarrassing that one of the major cities in the UK can only get an average of 26,370 supporters to attend at their football ground when there is no competition for support within a 45 mile radius.
Therefore while the survey is interesting it is particularly meaningless. You cannot shake me from my theory that Watford are just as well supported as Norwich taking into account the size of population in the area and the other available teams to support in close proximity.
Even though I agree that Norwich is well attended it is still like a library for atmosphere. For all your support you are still one of the quietest grounds in the country. As was once said to your supporters by a fellow Norwich supporter whose name I forget “C’mom, lets be ‘aving ya….where are ya?”
#29 Bob. Even watching from Diss you would have seen that Hoolahan dived for that penalty. Sorry but couldn’t resist once you set the bait.
Looking forward to seeing your massive support at the Vic on 5th December. COYH
I think Troy Deeney will get a few goals TBF.
Good luck to both teams though and hope you prove the pundits wrong!
Gary Gowers says
Thanks to our friends from Hertfordshire for fighting their corner and joining in the debate. Feel free to pop your head in tomorrow when Gary Field examines the prospects of the three promoted teams. *gulp*
Mike C says
Hey Simmos (35) you’re picking on Hoolahan because the ref gave the pen, but not Ighalo who tried twice but failed? No double standard there? Open goal, can’t miss!
Gary Field says
@35 Simmos. Yep, I overlooked the nuance that your capacity increased part way through the season, as have Sky.
They’ve also overlooked the segregation aspect, as you’ve mentioned.
A direct comparison on average attendances is probably a better measure in the circumstances and you’ll have no excuses for not hitting the 20,000+ next season 😉
Neither of us can do anything about our location, or the level of competition in the immediate surrounds. It is what it is.
The club hasn’t made capacity smaller since the stadium became all seated in 1992, as you suggest. In fact it’s increased slightly since.
There is an ongoing debate between the club and its supporters over the need to increase capacity further and the club has now repaid all debt from the last stand redevelopment in the early 2000’s.
It probably will happen at some point at the further but the club is rightly focused on trying to establish itself within the Premier League. That’s not easy, as you’ll shortly find out.
Feel free to pop by again tomorrow, when I review the survival prospects of the three promoted teams 😉
Stewart Lewis says
Look forward to Gary’s piece tomorrow!
Despite today’s skirmishes, there are (at least) three teams I’d rather see go down than Watford or Norwich.
Thanks for all the comments. Back to reminiscing about my great goals…
Sid W says
All this talk of Watford & signing foreign players I would love to know where you can possibly find British/English players anywhere as just about every player from these shores worth his salt has been snapped up.If the top clubs are falling over themselves to sign any English player with a smattering of potential what chance do the rest have?
Premier League Pedant says
Well all I can say is roll on Saturday so we can talk about actual football. Proper, competitive, 3 points for a win, football. Kick it off…
Agree that I would rather see other teams go down than any of the promoted three so we could upset the establishment!
On another note I see Mulumbu is out for 3-4 weeks from training so realistically this could be at least six before he is able to return. This is another reason why we have signed a lot of players due to injuries and suspensions during the season.
Think I won the argument over whether we are committed to British talent as you have failed to answer my facts!
Stewart Lewis says
Hi Mick (43) – Norwich signed Mulumbu as an alternative to the excellent defensive midfielder Alex Tettey. We’re sorry to lose Mulumbu (who’s made a good impression, despite the derision of Watford fans) for a few weeks, but our sensible policies mean that Tettey will step in.
If you won an argument, it was with yourself. I never attacked Watford’s academy policy. It must be a bit disheartening for Watford’s young British players to see the club sign 10 foreigners this summer, but that’s an issue for many clubs.
Tettey another championship quality player for me. Good luck with him mixing it with the best.
The fact you cannot read and understand what you write and I have quoted back to you questioning whether we are committed to British talent leaves me puzzled? The FACT is which you fail to acknowledge is that we give our younger academy players longer contracts than Norwich’s. You wrote the word talent in the article Stewart not me which means young players. You are at it again failing to see what you write, “saying you have not attacked our academy policy then say they must be pleased with us signing ten new players”
A lack of class failing to eat humble pie Stewart!
Stewart Lewis says
I’m happy to hear that Watford gives its academy players long contracts. And that you’re happy to have signed so many (all foreign) players this summer.
As I acknowledged in my last comment, the problem of young British talent being pushed down the pecking order by foreign imports is not restricted to Watford. I don’t know how much your young British talent featured in pre-season games (as Harry Toffolo and Jacob Murphy did for Norwich). I’d like to hear their involvement was substantial and that they have a real shot at first-team action – can you enlighten us?
I fear their future may be a bit limited, though. Within the Pozzo empire, the flow this summer has clearly been from Udinese (and other clubs where there’s an influence) to Watford. That makes business sense – given the riches of the Premier League, esp next year onwards, success for Watford is more important for the family business than success for Udinese.
Good news for you, of course.
#38 Sorry Mick C but the comment was meant as a joke and as I have had to explain it, it probably means it wasn’t particularly funny. I absolutely agree that Ighalo dived but he failed miserably to impress the ref and perhaps he needs lessons from Hoolahan (Mick, that was another attempt at a joke). However what is probably more worrying is that diving has now become an accepted part of the game. When did that happen? I don’t like to see Watford players doing it but have to accept that it is now just another aspect of modern football.
Thanks Gary and all of you that have allowed a Watford supporter to make comments on your site. Totally agree that I hope all three promoted teams stay up and I think at least one could finish top half. COYH and OTBC.
Stewart Lewis says
Thanks, Simmos (47).
I’d love to get to 50 comments – but if not, your last point is a fine one to finish on.
Tommie Hoban & Sean Murray have been with the squad and have played in pre-season although Murray has just come back from Serious injury.
Although Tommie made a lot of appearances last season I think he will be cover along with Murray (who made a few appearances before serious injury) as they now have a lot of competition. If they are good enough then they will get their chance.
How many Championship games did Toffolo and Murphy play last season?
I feel the reason Norwich do not sign much foreign talent is because they have no scouting system in place in Europe like most Prem Clubs. Paying 8 million for Wolswinkie seems to have put the wind up your board and I can understand the clubs hesitation but this does not mean this is the wrong way to go. Integration is our problem, quality is not.
We have signed three of our ten players from Udinese (including Vydra who was on loan last season).
If you feel that the three players is the majority of our business then so be it?
Cosmo P. says
Well done Stewart – that’s one off the bucket list.
Mick (49/50) – you may well be right that Watford has a better scouting network abroad but then so did Fulham and QPR – it’s not a guarantee for a squad gelling together and playing for the badge – far from. Once things turn pear-shaped, they’ll drift away one by one. Let’s see how your Dutchman gets on.
I’d be willing to put a tenner down that Watford will be under yet another coach by Christmas.
Gary Field says
I’m puzzled by the assertion that, just because Watford give three year contracts to youth team players, the club is somehow more committed to youth development than Norwich. This is for two reasons.
Firstly, whilst it may be great from the player’s perspective to have the longer contract, if they don’t develop as expected, that extra year becomes an additional liability for the club?
Secondly, I seem to recall from previous exchanges on the matter, that Watford only has a category three status academy? If this is still so, does this not mean less coaching and education time, plus a lower standard of training facilities, than their category one status counterparts here are Norwich?
Stewart Lewis says
In answer to #49, I made no claims about Norwich’s academy. In fact two of our youth players (Jamar Loza and Josh Murphy) played last year, but not very much – so I suspect we’re pretty similar.
My point was exactly what you’ve confirmed: whatever chances they had last year, they’ll be restricted by the greater competition this time. Unless Norwich make a flurry of signings, that will be a more acute issue for Watford.
You’re quite justified to stress the pedigree of your new signings. Given that, I’d guess they’ll expect to play. I don’t know whether they’ll want – or be expected – to spend time supporting the young players as we do at Norwich. Do you?
Re your #50, I think that’s largely right.
So many people with predictions that have yet to be proved. Seeing as the season has not started I have never known so many crystal ball gazers on one site. Time will tell gentleman.
The reason we give players 3 and 4 years contracts is because our owner has indicated he wants players to be given time to develop. I also believe this is to stop other clubs from poaching our well regarded talent.
Our Academy was category one but we downgraded to three to save money as the club was in debt in 2012. We have now gained category two status. Remember we were the first English club to set up the Harefield & Watford FC Academy in 2007. Think you will find a lot of clubs like you have copied our approach and this is the was then proposed by EPPP. We are Market leaders!
The Pozzo’s are not stupid and have now recruited Harry Kewell to run this U21 team. Considering he has now opened an Academy in Australia himself I think you may find that the best talent from there may head to our club, but I’m sure you will condemn this as well. From our point of view this is very smart business again by our owners.
(46)I see from my research that Toffolo and Murphy have yet to even make their league debuts for yourselves. Youth players making your premier league squad of twenty five. Its a great call and one to be proud of but either they are outstanding individuals or your squad on paper is weaker than I thought?
I would have thought if they were very good, sending them out to a Championship club would be better than keeping them on the bench or even out of the match day squad.
Gary Field says
@54 Mick – the revised compensation payments are now linked to the cost of player development. Therefore, a player from a category one academy will attract a bigger payment than one from a category two or three academy. Length of contract is irrelevant.
@55 players aged 21 are not included as part of the 25 man names squad of over 21’s, you can have as many of those as you like, so your reference to paper thin squad is irrelevant.
Stewart Lewis says
Toffolo and Murphy won’t count towards the 25-man list, being under 21. But they’ll clearly be in and around the first-team squad, unless (and plenty of time to decide this) we send them on loan.
We’re careful about the development of our young players – as I’m sure Watford are – and would only send them to clubs where they would benefit and get guidance in line with our own philosophy.
Gary Gowers says
Am seriously contemplating, after 40+ years, of giving up my yellow and green in favour of yellow, black and red.
Everything at Vicarage Road sounds so fantastic. A resolution to climate change and world peace next on the Pozzos’ agenda?
Major Gubbins says
Nice one Gary (58). I’m surprised they’re not renaming the ground ‘Utopia Road’ or whatever the Italian equivalent is.
Norwich fans are constantly complaining about player performance, CEO/manager performance, ticket pricing, the length of grass, the new kit….meanwhile in Hertfordshire, the sun seems to shine from the owner’s culo, everything is rosy and everyone is great. It’s almost scary and a bit ‘Stepford Wives’.
I think it’s a case of the condition known as ‘Pozzo blindness’.
Come on Watford fans, be honest – there must be things about your club that tick you off?
Stewart Lewis says
To be fair (why am I doing this all of a sudden?), I think we moan when we get together as fans of a particular club. When we engage with fans of other clubs, we tend to close ranks and defend our club in all directions. It’s football nature, and human nature.
As Major Gubbins points out, there’s no shortage of moaning among the Canary faithful. We were frustrated at the Brady saga, agree with Alex Neil that we need a couple more signings and wish they’d been delivered earlier; we’d like to expand the stadium, fret about the pricing of tickets for away fans and aren’t convinced by the new kits. But we set all of that aside if we’re having an exchange with rival fans, in this case Watford.
Left to themselves, I’m sure Watford fans don’t have such a rosy view of life – do they?
At the moment we have nothing to moan about really. Under the recent regime there were plenty of negatives and false promises.
So far the owners have made us debt free with a sustainable business model going forward. They have spent millions upgrading the training facilities and academy which were good anyway.
They promised if attendance figures reached a certain level they would build a new stand. We thought here we go have heard all this before from the previous chairman. Within weeks of the season finishing this was being built. There is now further millions being spent building a new club shop along with integrating this into a corner of the ground along with more seats due to demand.
I do not need to say anything on the playing side except the football has been good to watch with plenty of goals (mainly in opposition nets until we played you lot) and exciting attacking play. Have a mate who along with his son are Arsenal armchair fans. He asked if he and his season could come to watch a game with me and my mates at the start of last season. It helped we beat Leeds 4-1 but he could not believe how much they both enjoyed the day out and the quality on show and it only cost him £35 for both tickets. He purchased a half season ticket last year and now a full one. The owners have also been great with ticket prices as well.
They have a business model in recruiting players which has so far give them a lot of success in Europe and has worked in England so far despite everyone telling us including yourselves we will fail. So far they have been proved right and the doubters wrong so until we have a setback we are happy to back their experience and judgment.
The only negative for me was the rushed appointment (unusual for the Pozzo’s) of McKinley and his demotion. At the time it seemed ridiculous but after getting promotion how can we argue. Jokanovic only has himself and his agent to blame as he got greedy and wanted £2.5 million plus bonuses if he kept us up. Think this was based on the fact he was interesting other Prem clubs but his bluff was called.
Stewart Lewis says
One the points you discussed in #49 is illustrated today. Sean Murray may have played for Watford’s first team last year, but may not even be destined to be cover this year. You’ve loaned him out to Wigan.
Our mercurial rise from League 1 in 2009 to the Premier League in 2011 was great for fans, but not so good for the Norwich careers of young players like Tom Adeyemi and Korey Smith.
it’s a problem.
Major Gubbins says
Thanks Mick – 61. You’ve just given us even more flippin’ positives!
You surely can’t like that strange black lined shirt your heroes will be playing in at home?
He has not played a competitive game this year due to a serious knee injury and hamstring trouble. He needs games and at the moment he will not get that with us at the start of the season.
The loan is for twenty eight days!
Good all round for everyone.
Can’t say I’m too enamoured with the stripes on the home and away shirts. Seen your shocker of a third kit. Where the hell are they going to wear that?