LATEST EPISODE: Dare to believe?

Jon and Mike head to Borehamwood to get a glancing look at the 2014-15 Watford squad. They chat about the on-going Deeney situation, chat to Watford Observer journalist Frank Smith and try to figure out if they dare to believe.

Email us:

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Crystal Ball Gazing 2014-2015

At the start of every season fans try to predict what will happen in the coming season, and at FTRE we are no different. Here are our predictions for the coming 2014-2015 Championship season.

Who will be Watford's top three for the Player of The Season award?

Mike: It’s impossible to imagine that a fully fit Almen Abdi wouldn’t feature prominently in the end of season awards. If he stays injury free, it will be like having a new signing – I can’t wait to see him in action again. I won’t be surprised to see the imperious Gabi Angella being popular whilst if he repeats anything approaching his 2012/13 form, Matej Vydra will surely feature.

Jon: However much I wish it was going to be Diego Fabbrini, I think it will be between Cristian Battocchio (see my next answer), the midfield puppeteer/fog horn Daniel Tozser or the saviour of Watford who will score us the goals for promotion, Matej Vydra.

Jason: Almen Abdi first, Toszer second, Vydra third. If they all stay fit of course!

Which player will be a revelation of the season?

Mike: One of the biggest disappointments of last season was the form of Joel Ekstrand. He rarely looked comfortable and after an excellent debut season, that was a big let-down. I think he’ll have learned from last year though and will use this season to remind us all what a great player he is. I reckon Mathias RanĂ©gie will turn a few heads, too.

Jon: I think this season Cristian Battocchio will florish and make himself into a first choice player. When he's left out, fans will be screaming "Why is Battocchio not playing?", because he contributes so much to the games he does play in. I made this revelation at the St Albans pre-season game, he followed it by scoring two goals - just saying. 

Jason: Josh Doherty - we're not overrun with fullbacks and he may be given a few opportunities to shine if we now go four at the back as preseason games suggest.

Who will be the highest scoring defender?

Mike:  Gabriele Angella. Next?

Jon: The obvious answer is Angella, but I'm going to go with  Juan Carlos Paredes. All South Americans can score, right?

Jason: Gabi Angella

What will be the biggest winning score line of the season?

Mike: We’ll obviously score 6 (six) at Elland Road, but I reckon we’ll dish out a few 4-1 beatings.

Jon: There will be a bizarre game, sometime in the winter, where we score 5 second half goals and keep a clean sheet. Let's say it's the Blackpool home game.

Jason: 4-0. The days of scoring 5 & 6 away from home are behind us.

Who will be the clubs 'Top Goal Scorer'?

Mike: The obvious temptation is to say Matej Vydra, but 1) I don’t want to jinx him and 2) things have changed since his last stint with us. IN his first season, teams didn’t realise he was quicker that most standard cars until it was too late whilst now they’ll have a plan to deal with him. I think RanĂ©gie may benefit from the attention Vydra will undoubtedly get from opposition defenders and will carry off the coveted golden (yellow?!) boot.

Jon: Again, the obvious answer would be Vydra, but he'll be getting more attention than he got two seasons ago. I think Fernando Foresteri will steal the show as he stays health and flourishes in the spaces left by Vydra. 

Jason: Vydra. But he won't get as many as last time around.

Which away game are you most looking forward to?

Mike: It’s great to have Brentford back in the Championship as a trip to Griffin Park is always fun. I’m looking forward to getting to the revamped Molineux, but if we’re in the shake-up come the end of the season, Brighton on 25 April has the makings of a memorable away day.

Jon: I can't wait to head to Brentford, maybe something to do with my old Primary School teacher being a Brentford fan.

Jason: Brentford. Old Skool.

Which team will be the thorn in our side?

Mike: We’re hopeless against teams that we “should” beat, so I’m always nervous about the promoted teams. This year they are perhaps stronger than usual, but I fully expect us to lose both games against Rotherham.

Jon: We will not enjoy our afternoons against Wolves. Not that they will make us look like fools, but they will be "Oh so close!" loses that were no more than 1 goal.

Jason: Derby County. They like scoring against us and they're making good strides in the transfer market again.

Which 5 teams will make up the Championship Top 6 this season along with Watford?

Mike: Norwich, Wigan, Fulham, Wolves and Blackburn.

Jon: Wolves will storm up the league, Norwich, Brighton, Bournemouth and Wigan.

Jason: Derby, Wolves, Fulham, Wigan and Bolton (just ahead of Forest!).

Sunday, 27 July 2014

WFC in 100 Objects #45 - A Watford FC Branded Double Decker Bus

Not the actual bus!
It was a school holidays in the late 80's, and the junior hornets, then run by the legendary Ann Swanson, were on a day trip to Highbury. I was on the trip and we'd enjoyed a tour of the stadium, hearing the horse and cart ghost story, and a game of football in the JVC centre - an indoor sports hall in the depths of Highbury.

After a great day we all piled back onto the Watford branded double decker bus and headed home in high spirits. There may have been a chant or two. We were joined by a few of the youth team players at the time - David James was one from memory - and I was sat on the top deck about 6-7 rows from the front on the top deck. How could a football filled day like this go wrong? (this is feeling like a set up in an episode of Casualty). 

As we went past, what I remember to be, Finsbury Park train station we went under a railway bridge. It was no ordinary bridge, it was a bridge that was a fraction lower than the height of our bus. There was a sound of very loud crunching and scrapping as the metal roof opened as easily as the foil on a sandwiches I'd devoured earlier that day. A shout of "GET DOWN!!" was bellowed by David James, and we all ducked. The roof of the first 2-3 rows were concertina back. All were checked and found to be okay. We got off, waited at the side of the road before being taken to a near by police station. There we waited. No mobile phones to call home or tweet a picture of the bus, but all were happy and we got to see the police cells. Our behaviour must have been good as no one was left behind at the station.

After talking about this object on the podcast, Ralph Buckland send us an email with a picture of a toy Routemaster bus, with Watford FA Cup Final '84 branding, that he owns, which is currently on loan at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon Warwickshire. As you can see it's roof is in good nick!

So object 45 in our list of 100 Objects that define Watford Football Club is a Watford Branded Bus, no matter how big or small.

Monday, 21 July 2014


As football supporters it doesn’t suit us to admit it, but for professional footballers, playing football is just a job. The majority will have the good sense to admit that they are fortunate to be involved in a profession that see’s them paid handsome wages to do something they (presumably) love, but it’s still just a job.It doesn’t suit us to think like that because these guys are our heroes. We talk about them endlessly, sing their praises and chant their names. Imagining them as people who are the same as us; working to pay off mortgages and credit card bills, ruins the mystique somewhat.

Deep down however, you know it’s the case.

So think about it for a minute. Think about the last time you got a new job. A pay rise. An improved bonus and a new company car. You were pretty pleased, right? You told your family and friends who were all, rightly, delighted for you. It was exciting and you were proud of what you’d achieved. Quite right too, congratulations. So why should it be any different for a footballer? When a player signs for a new club, it’s for one of two reasons. He’s either on the way down, or on the way up. Players in decline can usually leave without too much backlash. They’ve done their bit and are moving on. It’s best for both parties. It’s when a player is at the peak of his powers and wants to move - that’s when it tends to get a touch awkward.

Troy Deeney has had a tremendous couple of seasons in a Watford shirt. He’s scored bucket-loads of goals, performed (mostly) with pride and passion, very rarely giving the impression that’s he’s giving anything but his all. He’s a striker at the peak of his powers, and is unsurprisingly attracting interest from Premier League clubs. It has all been a bit daft up until now, Sean Dyche has chanced his arm with a few early bids, but with the Watford Observer confirming that Leicester City have just had a £6.5m bid turned down, it feels as if things have started to get serious. 

To be clear, I desperately hope Troy Deeney stays with Watford. With him in the side I believe we’d have an excellent chance of promotion and if the thought of seeing him re-united with Matej Vydra doesn’t excite you, then I suggest you check your pulse. Having said that, if he wanted to leave, I’d fully understand why. He’d in effect, be getting a promotion. A new job with better pay, bigger bonuses, potentially greater opportunities and more security for his family. All the things that you and I want from our professional careers. I think if Deeney does go, he should go with our blessing.

But why should we sell? We don’t have to. We have the Pozzos don’t we? 

Yes, we have the Pozzos. A clever, savvy, tough family who have made a success of their business interests and of their football clubs. They have made it to where they are today by knowing when the time to do a deal is right. I’m pretty certain they’ll do the same on this occasion. ON occasion I’ve been baffled to see Watford supporters questioning the Pozzo family, asking when they are going to pay a transfer fee. I always struggle to see the relevance of this. Why do they need to pay a fee? Will the receipt prove that they are serious? I’d have thought there was enough evidence knocking around already to suggest that they mean business. I dread to think how much it will have cost to sort out the mess left by Bassini. The players currently at Watford will be on the highest wages ever to be seen at Vicarage Road. You may have noticed a new East Stand appearing. These things cost money. Lots of it. There will be a time when Watford Football Club will be expected to provide something in the way of revenue, at the very least some significant entry in the “money in” column. Could you blame the Pozzo family if they took this opportunity to get a little something back? 

Ah, but if we keep Deeney and get promoted, that would be worth immeasurably more than the 7 or 8 million they’d get from selling Deeney. Parting with him now would show that they aren’t serious about promotion. Right?

Well, if Troy stayed and if we went up, then yes. They and Watford would be quids in. There are a lot of “ifs” in that sentence though, aren’t there? What if Deeney stays and we don’t go up? What if Deeney stays and gets injured after 2 games? What if, what if, what if. It’s all conjecture, guesswork and luck. It’s about making the right decision at the right time, something that I think we’d all agree, the Pozzo family have proved to be pretty good at.

Then there’s Troy himself. His choices have a big part to play in this. I’ve heard people suggest that he shouldn’t be allowed to move. Well, that’s easier said than done. Troy Deeney does his best work when his head’s in the game, when he means business. Who’s to say how he’ll perform if he’s told he can’t move. Told that he’s being denied that chance to advance his career, to earn more money, to make his family more secure. To get, let’s face it, would be a better job. I know how I’d feel…

As I said, I want Troy Deeney to stay and sincerely hope he does. If he is to leave however, there are two things that I’m conformable with. 1) That Troy will have deserved and earned his move, and 2) That in being owned by the Pozzo family, whatever deal is done, it will be right for the long term future of Watford Football Club.