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03/04: Review:
"A breath of fresh air"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 31/07/03

Watford maintained a 100% record in their pre-season fixtures with a comfortable win at QPR and a more workmanlike victory at Sixfields against Northampton Town on Tuesday night. Ray Lewington has shuffled the pack in terms of personnel in the warm up games and a new formation has been put into place. The close season signings, all attacking players, have given Watford's manager a most welcome selection problem up front and a 4-3-3 formation has been deployed so far. The squad look comfortable with the new system but the acid test will be facing sterner opposition when the season kicks off in early August.

Bruce Dyer has produced several convincing displays and his ability to use body strength to hold up the ball will enable Watford to sustain attacks for longer periods. Dyer's finishing has been clinical in front of goal and although Heidar Helguson is taking time to adjust to a new role which is to the left of the front three, the signs are promising at the moment.

With the majority of Division One teams lining up as a 4-4-2 or in some cases 3-5-2, the new system will be a breath of fresh air. However it places greater demands on the out-numbered midfied trio and the engine room of the team must be firing for it to succeed. Micah Hyde, Neal Ardley and Jimmy Davis will probably take responsibility in this department with the favoured threesome up front likely to be Helguson, Dyer and Danny Webber.

Danny is a possible starter in The Hornets next warm-up fixture, Wycombe Wanderers away (Saturday 2nd August 3PM). The former Manchester United striker is behind his team mates in fitness terms following a broken leg and will be keen to re-start his carear in Division One.

What looked an appetising pre-season fixture when announced several weeks ago has now taken on a far greater meaning when Chelsea visit Vicarage Road on Tuesday 5th August (7.45PM). The recent developments at Stamford Bridge have seen millions spent on new players and the promise of more in the pipeline. Not a day goes by without The Blues being linked to one top player or another and a new dawn is emerging for Chelsea supporters. Tickets for the game are still available and following a successful Asian Cup triumph in Malaysia Claudio Ranieri takes his new charges to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday before calling in at Vicarage Road. A star studded night awaits Watford fans.

Talking of stars, Wiggington based Hollywood film star and former football hardman Vinnie Jones is lending his considerable fame to the "Let's Buy The Vic Back" campaign. Vinnie visited Watford's headquarters this week to raise awareness of the fund, which now stands at 250,000, to re-purchase the freehold of the ground. The total required is over 3 million, still a fair way to go, but Vinnie's support is most welcome by the fans, players and board-members alike. Vinnie was born within sight of the stadium and has retained a place in his heart for The Hornets.

Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers