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04/05: Review:
February 2005:
Entirely Unexpected (Possibly)
By Mike Peter

Take a good hard think of all the Division Two sides you seen this year and then name one you've found remotely impressive. For me? Wigan, Sunderland, Ipswich...the top three and none of them were that special. They looked beatable, anyway. The level of quality is much the same, that's the point I'm trying to make.

So one really can't predict what's going to happen in this league. Injuries, form both important obviously. But not the be-all and end-all. Confidence, mainly but how does that manifest itself? Why do teams that seem to have nothing to be "confident" about suddenly beat someone in fifth 3-0. It's a crazy league, where nothing's for certain.

One could, for instance, randomly generate results for a weekend's fixtures and each time get a set of entirely conceivable scores (unless you had Stoke scoring more than one goal). But even taking this into account, you occasionally get a result that is actually rather surprising.

Who could have imagined, for instance, that we might win against Gillingham, a team seemingly driven by the one desire of being ludicrously difficult for us to beat. But no, Hessenthaler departed and suddenly it's easy. Well, maybe not, quite how Gillingham didn't score in the second half is beyond me but still goals win games etc. Incidentally, the second goal was a fine solo effort from NEW LOAN STAR, Chris Eagles, who looks rather nifty even if he is prone to be knocked over by a gust of wind.

One would have not fancied our chances at Ipswich either who, despite their loss at home to QPR on the Saturday, were top of the league. But no, we got our first win at Portman Road since 1992 or something.

That game also saw the end of Paul Jones' Watford tenure. As ig's report says, there's not much to say. He did this job efficiently and that's about it. Although it's rather fun to note that he could maintain his place as Wales' number one when he was rotting away at Wolves but as soon as he came to Watford he was dropped straight away. Interesting.

Of course, his leaving means that Richard Lee is back, all youthful and sprightly. Shame he didn't keep the mask for longer, that was funny. In all seriousness though, Lee's been a major plus-point of this season, and it's excellent to see him back.

Anyway, who could have possibly imagined in their wildest dreams that we might beat Sunderland 1982. No, we lost that one rather drastically, partly down to the aforementioned keeper, although a general apathetic display from all those involved obviously didn't help matters. This was predictable, looking at the two team's form, injuries, money, etc. But not inevitable. On another day (but not most days), we could win at Sunderland.

The only bright point in the woeful Sunderland game was two late goals from substitute Bruce Dyer. It's been a quiet season for Bruce, unable to pin down a place in the starting line-up somewhat unjustly, some would argue. But his contribution has been invaluable, his goals at Sunderland brought him up to nine for the season and he's got two since, equalling Scott Fitzgerald's top scorer total for last season. Not bad for someone who probably hasn't played ninety minutes for Watford all season.

Oh, and there was a 0-0 draw with Wolves, this was inevitable considering Wolves have drawn every game since Glenn "exciting football" Hoddle took over.* Still, an away point at Molineux is not to be sneezed at, and ended the month with a respectable seven points from twelve.

In other news, both Lloyd Doyley and Dominic Blizzard have been awarded contract extensions. The two have been integral cogs in the Watford clock this year, so it's heartening to see both given the tenure they deserve. Neither are particularly glamorous, but they do they job well, and that's fine by me. And speaking of young players, it's nice to see the youth team get through to Youth Cup quarters, even if they did do it via penalties. Rather obvious it may be, but with the financial constraints Watford have it really does aid matters if we have a decent Academy. And we do, by the look of it, so that's all fine and dandy.

Til the next column, friends. Ta ra.

* This may be a slight exaggeration, but it's basically true.