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03/04: Review:
October 2003:
By Mike Peter

"Happiness! Happiness! The greatest thing that I possess. Um. Happiness! Happiness! (Repeat ad nauseam)"

So the lyric goes.... After a rather woeful September, Watford have come out of October looking in far better shape than they had a month before. As I write this, Watford are sitting pretty in seventeenth and the gap between us and the relegation zone increasing to a huge (!) six points. Lewington's job seems to be in tact, Palarse are dropping like a stone in rapidly murky waters and vegetable balti pies are being sold. It is a good time to be a Watford fan.

Of course, it is worth noting that the teams we played in October (Cardiff excluded) have a good chance of being the bottom five come May. And you're unlikely to see a worse team at the Vic than Bradford in a long time, at least not until Franchise come a-calling. And October is Lewington's lucky month (he won the manager of the month this time last year - God, we were third then. Third!) So can Watford be congratulated for beating such a load of losers? Well, yes and no....

October started with a trip to Gresty Road, which naturally I didn't go to, being a Johnny-Come-Lately, one-away-game-per-season sort of guy. But I can happily report with 97% certainty that Watford were very good. Danny Webber's 61st minute goal secured it for the ten-man Golden Boys (Chamberlain having been sent off, allowing Watford to field loanee Lenny Pidgeley - but more on that later.)

Ten days later, Watford were at home to Walsall. At the time, although we perhaps don't appreciate now, it was a chance to grab a much needed three points. Unfortunately we failed to penetrate Walsall's reasonably poor defence and left it to their loanee, Chris Baird, to score our equaliser. (He got sent off the next match. Unlucky...)

Our 1-0 victory over Bradford the following Saturday should have really been about 6-0. Bradford were abominable and we had plenty of chances. But three points is three points, I suppose.

Coventry next. A draw, but I did wonder what the score might have been back in August, our confidence high following a successful pre-season. But some things are beyond our control and it was a poignant memorial in some sense at least....

I would say our next fixture was against Wimbledon where we won 3-1 in what apparently was a fantastic display. However, this is far from the truth. Hopefully Watford, and all the other teams that have destroyed Franchise this season, will lose their points when they get liquidated. There has been much debate about going to Franchise on the mailing list. I suppose it's a personal thing, but I wouldn't be seen with 150 miles of the place.

Watford rounded up October with a 3-0 defeat to Cardiff. Apart from the hilarious repertoire of the Cardiff fans, the only thing worth noting is that apparently Watford didn't deserve to lose. But going to Ninian Park is hardly an easy game, I wasn't expecting much anyway.

I suppose the biggest issue this month is the loss of Robbo. I'm sure it came as a shock to most Watford fans. It certainly was for me. Having to accept 250,000 for Robbo is a stark reminder of the financial straits the club is in, many of us assuming that we were in the clear. His transfer leaves many questions unanswered, will Robbo kiss West Brom's badge? Will he come round to the Baggie fans and roar and wave his fist after a victory? I really can't imagine him in anything but a yellow shirt.

The other person who left this month was Terry Byrne. Strictly that isn't true, as he's not leaving until December, going to be David Beckham's personal manager in Spain. This incidentally means that Beckham is going to get a massive lawsuit from his current sports agency. When Vialli left I expected to Byrne to go with him, the failed remains of the old regime. However he was made Director of Football, which surprised many Watford fans. Apparently he was behind bringing in the Premiership loans, so I'm sure he'll be sorely missed.

The two great players this month would have surprised many Watford fans six months ago. A former Ryman league striker and Chelsea's fifth choice keeper. Scott Fitzgerald, has banged in three goals in six games this month. Watford, although we do miss Helguson hugely (I wonder how many he'd have scored against Bradford?), sorely need a twenty-a-season man and Scott's a third of the way there. Good man. I had my doubts about Lenny Pidgeley. He had never played a game of first team football in his life when he was thrown onto the pitch at Crewe. However he has put in many good displays, even managing to keep Alec out when he returned from suspension. He says he'd bee happy to sign for us permanently and it's a transfer I wouldn't mind, although I'm sure the equally promising Richard Lee would be pissed off.

The other bit of footballing news is that right at the end of the month Watford rejected a 450,000 bid from Forest for Danny Webber. One does wonder how Watford can afford to turn this offer down and yet accept the bid for Robbo. The only explanation being that Watford are planning to sell him for a larger price. It's also worth considering that it's perhaps Forest's attempt to lure Gillingham's chairman Paul Scally into giving them Marlon King.

I'm sure many of you were invited to a major event of the 29th. The launch of the Hornet Foundation is a good concept and brining in 100,000 a season can only be good for the club. However I was rather surprised that they called this launch "major". I was expecting some audacious plan to buy back the ground...I dunno, I just was a bit underwhelmed.

So October's been and gone, full of so-called easy fixtures, which we perhaps didn't so well out of as one might have hoped. However Watford are now moving away from the relegation zone and confidence is high, which can only be a good thing especially with Forest twice, Reading, West Ham, Norwich and Sheffield United all ahead....