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Interview with an away fan: Watford


As we speak you sit 17th in the table one point ahead of Pompey who have a game in hand on you. Happy with the start to the season, or were you expecting better?

To be honest, I thought we'd be a little bit more comfortable, with more depth in the squad than we had last year. Having said that, after a struggling start, things are beginning to look up. So happier now than I was a couple of months ago.

Sean Dyche replaced Malky Mackay when he departed for Cardiff and at the time you were pleased he had got the job. Still agree with that and how is he doing, despite the league position?

Bringing the clichés out early here, I think he's had a steep learning curve, but then if football management was easy, we'd all be able to do it! Fans seemed quite divided by mid-October when points were hard to come by and some were already calling for his head. But thankfully common sense gave him the chance to persevere and we're now on a run of only one defeat in seven. There's still an undercurrent of dissatisfaction amongst some fans, but I guess you get those with less realistic expectations at most clubs.

What has Dyche changed at Watford. Are you playing any different or is he giving youngsters a chance that usually wouldn't get a game?

There's irony in that question! He tends not to play the youngsters and that is a big change from Mackay's policy of the past two seasons. He has bought in a lot of new players and some loan signings, sending the younger members of the squad that would have played last year out on loan to gain first team experience elsewhere. After a good start last season, we did fade quite dramatically towards the end and Dyche has put that down to having a squad with a lot of youngsters and was worried about the negative effect this may have had on them. Having said that, his signings have been a mixture of experience and youth. The style of play has changed. Chris Iwelumo has been added to the front line and Dyche has used him to mix up the options going forward, trying to use the Scotsman's strength to get the ball forward quickly, as well as using attacking midfielders Yeates and recent loan signing Michael Kightly to get the ball wide. We did start the season with two defensive midfielders in John Eustace and ex-Villa youngster Jonathan Hogg. The lack of a link between central midfield and attack was apparent. An injury to Eustace has allowed the more attacking Prince Buaben to play in midfield, and this seems to have freed the shackles for Hogg. He seems to be covering much more ground in that defensive midfield role, breaking up the play and finding a simple pass to start an attacking move when in possession.

From the outside looking in it seems you are inconsistent. Do you think you can make the top ten if you tighten up or are you content with the mid-table finish?

Put simply.....No and Yes! But it's never that simple is it! I have to say, I've not been overly impressed with the quality of the teams I've seen at Vicarage Road so far this season, a Scott Parker inspired West Ham aside, who tore us apart with ease. Birmingham & early pace setters Brighton have both visited and neither looked anything special. Brighton in particular were unattractive, looking to break the game up and slow things down at every opportunity. I'm expecting to see better this month though with Blackpool & Mackay's Cardiff due to visit, as well as Leeds. So I think we are capable of causing teams in the Championship problems, but haven't seen enough from us to expect an assault on the top half of the table. I will be happy with survival.

Scott Loach had a bit of a disaster against Bristol City, but he seems like a good young and upcoming keeper. Did he manage to put it behind him against Ipswich and are you confident he will stay with you this season?

Bit of a disaster? Unfortunately for Scott it wasn't just an embarrassing mistake but one that turned 3 points into one. As for putting it behind him I think it's fair to say he did that in the same game. It's often said of Scott that he doesn't come off of his line and doesn't dominate his box as much as he should. However, he has been improving that aspect of his game recently and he didn't cower after the mistake, continuing to attack crosses and corners in a manner we're not used to. At one point, for a goal kick, he even elected to change sides to take the kick from, moving to the side in front of the City fans giving him the obligatory jeers. He also made a point of coming down to the Rookery End at the end of the game to applaud the home fans, whereas others may have shied away and gone straight down the tunnel. Scott has been a young and upcoming keeper for a while now. I don't think he's done enough yet to attract interest from a higher level, and there is a danger that he doesn't push on and fulfil his potential. But he has a great mentor in Alec Chamberlain and hopefully he will realise that potential.

What's going on with the owner Laurence Bassini, missing two question and answer sessions? Is it causing unrest at the club and is it something the fans are desperate for?

This is the biggest cause for concern at the moment and something we have often discussed at From The Rookery End. Bassini's two no-shows have angered the fans. He does not seem to be able to answer the questions the fans need answered. We do not know why he has bought Watford FC. We do not know where he is getting the money from to fund the club and we do not know what his long term plans are for the club. Add to this the fact that he was once declared bankrupt and has changed his name, the fans are forgiven for being very worried about the future of our football club. After his first no show, he had a very public falling out with chairman and Watford legend Graham Taylor, in which he threatened to resign from the board and withdraw his funding. Not the sort of statement that endears you to WFC supporters. We are now told that Bassini will not attend any Q&A session until the New Year. We wait........

Mark Yeates and Michael Kightly seem the two on paper that could cause Leeds problems, who else will be a danger for the away side on Saturday?

I've spoken about Jonathan Hogg earlier in the post, but also worthy of a mention, less a danger than a rock solid wall that you'll need to knock down to get the result you want on Saturday, is Nyron Nosworthy. When he was signed on loan a month ago, he was hardly welcomed with open arms by the fans. Most remembered his shambolic debut performance for Sheffield United at Vicarage Road when on loan with the Blades. But the man filling the hole left by Martin Taylor's injury has been outstanding in defence. Not only has he put in consistently solid performances, but fellow centre back Adrian Mariappa has looked a better player for "Nozzer" being there. If it's attacking excitement you're looking for, then this Hornet is hoping for Marvin Sordell to shine on Saturday. He has been a bit inconsistent this year, after such a great showing alongside Danny Graham last season. But he has become a regular in the England U21 side and did score a bit of a worldy against Israel at Oakwell in September.

What formation should the Leeds fans be expecting on Saturday?

I gave that secret away earlier I think! It's likely to be a 4-4-2, with Hogg playing behind Buaben in central midfield, although club captain John Eustace is fit again and may start after coming off the bench on Saturday. Troy Deeney has been pushing for a starting place up front in recent weeks, and the fans have been behind him. His late winner at Ipswich last time out, may convince Dyche he should be in from the off.

If you could have any Leeds player who would it be?

Robert Snodgrass is a player who seems to have grown with the club as they have made their way back up from League One. I saw the goals from last weekend against Millwall and a winger that can score with his feet and his head would be a good addition to any squad. To say we miss Danny Graham's goals from last season is an easy dig, but you can't deny that Ross McCormack would be an ideal replacement. It looks like he's finally doing what he was bought for, after an inconsistent, injury hit season last term.

Prediction for the match?

Leeds' attacking force is going to be a good test for our new look defence, but I fear our struggle for goals up front could be our undoing. I may be a bit pessimistic here, but I think a repeat of last season is on the cards. Watford 0 Leeds 1.

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