The Hornets travel to South Yorkshire on Saturday to face relegation-bound Sheffield Wednesday. Of late Watford's league form has been very poor with four consecutive defeats. The drop seems unthinkable. Ray Lewington's men need to register the all important 50 points soon. This points total should hopefuly secure safety and the players will be anxious to prepare for the semi-final with a couple of wins under their belts. Similar to meeting a long-lost friend, a return to winning ways will lift the players' morale.
Lee Cook returned to first team action against Stoke, following a loan spell at Q.P.R. Lee appears to have come on in terms of strength and confidence and was one of the few positives to be taken from the home defeat.
Ray Lewington secured the services of Newcastle striker Michael Chopra this week. The promising England U-20 international was chased by a host of clubs and Ray said of the striker "He has tremendous pace, with a real eye for a goal, I have said publicly that we have to look at our goalscoring problem and in signing Michael I am taking positive action." Michael, who has represented England at every level up to the U-20 squad will be available for the semi-final at Villa Park and looks certain to play a part at Hillsborough on Saturday.
Alex Chamberlain and Marcus Gayle have signed new contracts this week. Both have been in fine form and Marcus will be in line for the Watford player of the season award along with Alec, Neil Cox and Heidar Helguson. Cox and Tommy Smith have not yet signed new contracts.
Another striker catching the eye at the moment is Scott Fitzgerald. Scott took his goal tally to three in two reserve team games with a brace in the 5-1 defeat of Chelsea. By his own admission Scott is coming to terms with the relentless pace of the professional game. However, the youngsters presence in the squad will create more competition for places up front and Scott is rated a true prospect.
The reserves are having a great run under the guidance of Nigel Gibbs and the former Hornet favourite is more than pleased with his first season in charge. I can exclusivley reveal that Nigel has lost his pace on the park - whilst taking part in a charity game on Sunday, he was unable to prevent my pinpoint pass from going out of play. Stick to the coaching, Gibbsy, and leave the playing to us young-uns!
News from the board room is that Watford have announced a "Buy Back the Vic" campaign. Tim Shaw said, "Any fresh money generated will go into a separate account and will be ring-fenced . We guarantee it will not be used for any other purpose" (ie, Paul Okon's hotel bill - MP). Fans are being asked to make donations of £50.00 or £100.00 to the fund (an Okon basket meal at the Soppwell House, basically. He did improve Leeds, though, didn't he?). They will be then entered into a draw with many top class prizes up for grabs. One such prize is the chance to be chairman / woman / trans-gender person for the day. (Graham Simpson did say he had spoken to our former chairman.) No need to panic here, as the winner is not obliged to fork out two or three million quid to keep things going, or even more should the unthinkable occur, you know the one, F.A. Cup Final, followed by relegation. Oh my God, I have written that word! RELEGATION.
Following the Grimsby away defeat I spoke with a well-known local journalist, when I mentioned the word, "that word", he scoffed. "We won't go down," the big man said. I ,the eternal optimist, somehow, for once, had reservations.
Several weeks ago I looked at Watford's end of season run-in, along with the other play-off contenders' final league games. My forecasts at the time were that Wolves would drop out in the last six games, Ipswich Town taking their place in the top six. Watford, on the other hand, would at least keep the interest going to the end of the season. Of course, I now realise trying to follow form in a division which in the main has none is foolhardy. A cold chill swirled around the empty stadium in Grimsby, and Town have themselves felt that very same chill for several seasons. I hope that ice cold front moves on swiftly, staying well clear of Hertfordshire.
However, I will finish this week by posing a question. If we do not win on Saturday at Sheffield Wednesday, where will the three points come from?! Answers on a postcard to: Be A Manager For A Day, Watford M.K. No Fixed Abode, M.Keynes.
A little help from a pessimist here....
The answers are....
Burnley -away- no
Palace -away- no
Reading -home- no
Bradford -away- no
Derby -home- maybe
Brighton -away- no
Sheffield United -home- no way.
It will be very close should Watford leave South Yorkshire pointless on Saturday. I hope I am wrong. See you in Cardiff ? Along with the other 19,000 "regulars"?
In these difficult times, my tongue is placed firmly in my cheek!
20 YEARS AGO
In the charts:
Is There Something I Should Know By Duran Duran.
Football League Division One
Watford 2 Aston Villa 1
Sherwood. Rice, Bolton, Sims, Rostron. Callaghan, Taylor. Jackett, Jobson. Blissett, Barnes.
Scorers: Blissett and Rostron.
Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers