We all love a good cliché, “a well-earned draw” or “highly entertaining 0-0”, but watching Watford butt heads Southampton a few weeks ago, opened my eyes to a player called Ikechi Anya. Mr Anya was pivotal in the attacking force that Watford had for every attack and where unfortunate to score against a solid Southampton side.
His directness and fluidity whilst in motion reminded me of another direct winger who in recent years has made a name for himself in England’s elite league, his name is Yannick Bolasie. Yannick and Ikechi similarities don’t stop at the speed at which they can terrorise a full-back, they both, if their career paths had been a little more direct to find a larger platform for their talents, could have played for England. Instead, both have taken a staggered approach across the lower leagues of English football to where they are now, and luckily, both are fortunate enough to have international recognition and received caps for DR Congo and Scotland respectively.
Now Watford could look at Crystal Palace and go, “we could be them, look at what they’ve achieved over the past couple of seasons”. This relates to the leaps and bounds which Crystal Palace has taken in recent years. Obviously the magic beans in Crystal Palace’s recent upturn in fortune are in the form of currency. The £5.1 billion battle between BT Sports and Sky Sports, will see a bumper package given to all Premier League clubs next season and this will be on the minds of the accountants and CFOs at every Premier League and Championship club. Transfers such as Xherdan Shaqiri for Stoke and Yohan Cabaye for Crystal Palace may have seen like a Football Manager fantasy four seasons ago, but given the amount of money that floats around the Premier League nowadays, any one club can buy a pinnacle talent of a lesser league, whilst larger clubs can stockpile talent.
Watford, in many people’s eyes, have bought well. Etienne Capoue from Spurs is inspiring and a solid addition to the midfield department, notable experience has been bought in the form of Jurado, Behrami and Diamanti. The only worry is that many of the purchases have been made to fit straight into the starting eleven. When Palace first came up into the Premier League three years ago, they relied heavily on the team that bought them up. Since then, they’ve steadily built a decent team and at last, have got the man they wish to lead the squad. This can’t be said for Watford. I believe Quique Flores to be an excellent manager, in his heyday at Valencia any top four team could have done with him at the helm, but since his wander in the middle-east, where managers stock seems to crumble (see Vitor Pereira or Michael Laudrup), he’s had to content himself with trying to make an impact at the wrong end of the Premier League reputation table.
I’m glad I’m seeing players like Anyi making an impact on Match of the Day highlights and if Troy Deeney starts finding the net then it’ll only be a matter of time before he gets into the England set-up. It’s unfortunate that players like Fabbrini, Angella and Vydra have all been dished out on loan given all they did to get Watford to where they are now, but as they say, there is no sentiment in football. I imagine the Pozzo family or delegated board in control only have one thing in mind, stay up at all costs, hence the players bought. Another problem that they have seemingly overcome are the issues with manager longevity. In the last year and a half, Watford has had five managers at the helm, Sannino (who is largely credited with laying the groundwork of the club’s current success), Oscar Garcia, Billy McKinlay, Slavisa Jokanovic (who gained them promotion) and now Quique. Whilst Palace have had two (three if you include caretaker manager aficionado Keith Millen) in ever-reliant Tony Pulis and crowd favourite Alan Pardew. Watford though, aren’t to blame for this constant shift in coaches as Garcia, Sannino and Jokanovic all left on their own accord, and if Flores stays for the season and continue in the same vain in which they’ve started, then hopefully they can match their league rivals.
Featured image: all rights reserved by Franziska.
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