I was actually quite excited about the prospect of going to my first Premiership game since 2000 (used my Dad’s season ticket because he was away, this allowed me to avoid the outrageous Â£35 entry price) and watching us take on such a mighty club as United. As a fan of a ‘small’ club I find that I have a certain amount of awe and respect for the top clubs’ history and status, and when contemplating the realisation that they’re coming to our patch with their best available team which means giving us the respect we deserve it brings out that extra bit of supporter’s pride that you don’t get playing the likes of Burnley.
I guess that’s why everyone’s been getting so excited about last May’s promotion, it surely wasn’t because they thought we would beat the big boys? Because that’s the problem – we were never going to win this game.
Once the match kicked off I soon remembered the same feeling of acute frustration that I discovered during Watford’s previous Premier League campaign back in 99/00. I’m talking about the annoyance levels rising as our less gifted footballers charge around the pitch desperately chasing the ball as the opposition calmly retain possession, but when we do manage to win it back our over-thinking and nerves conspire to give it away cheaply. The fear that any mistake will be punished and at any moment they can suddenly create what seems like acres of space and cut us apart to score. Not to mention the anger that grows from cynical opposition tactics such as diving and timewasting, as well as their fans’ songs that seems to have little to do with supporting their team on the day and much more about gloating and belittling other clubs.
And that’s the game summarised for you, it doesn’t matter about the incidents. We battled, they strolled. We launched long balls forward, they weaved patterns around the pitch. We made mistakes, they punished us. And once they had the 2-1 lead, they killed the game. The second half was very boring. That’s not United’s fault, they put in as much effort as they needed to in order to win. We just weren’t good enough to put them under greater pressure and make a real game of it. However, I suspect that if we had done they simply would’ve stepped up a gear and won the game three or four one. They were under such little pressure defensively that Rio Ferdinand played much of the second half with a broken toe and didn’t feel the need to substitute himself!
I’m not trying to criticise the Watford players, Aidy Boothroyd’s done that already. They deserve to be in the Premiership, they just don’t have the ability to deal with footballing genuises like Ryan Giggs and (I hate to admit it) Christiano Ronaldo. However, the refereeing doesn’t help them, but let’s not get into that now.
I’m told that Tuesday night’s game versus West Ham was cracking entertainment. I expect there’ll be many other exciting games this season at The Vic when we take on the mid to lower table teams who will come here playing to win because they consider 3 points against Watford as vital to their own aspirations, whilst Aidy will always send out our boys to attack. However, I can’t see the other games against the top 5 or even 10 being much different to this one because they’ll simply outclass us just as United did. And that’ll be boring.
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