Premiership season "not so bad" shock!
By Pete Goddard
A statistical breakdown of BSaD's player ratings for the 1999-2000 season indicates that the standard of playing performances only slipped slightly from those of the previous promotion years. Despite a hugely disappointing campaign, Watford still played much better than in the 1996-97 Division II doldrums, in the opinion of BSaD's enlightened scribes. However, for all the talk of returning to Division I with a much improved squad, it appears that the 1998-99 squad played better than the Premiership squad. It will be intriguing to see whether weaker Division I opposition will translate into improved performances (and ratings) from Watford players in the coming season.
The figures below are based on the average ratings (out of a maximum of five) awarded to players in BSaD match reports. Owing to the anomalies produced by the ratings given to players appearing only occasionally, only those appearing in five or more games have been included for analysis (and some remaining entries - notably Lowndes and Scott - might also be seen as anomalous). Of course, there's nothing scientific about BSaD's player ratings, but the prejudices of Ig and others might be expected to be smoothed out somewhat over a whole season and these figures do provide an interesting guide to the quality of the team and the contributions of individuals in each season.
The top three players in BSaD's 'Player of the Season' rankings - compiled from readers' monthly votes, so again not merely a one-off exercise - are also included for comparison. Average player ratings and the 'Player of the Season' votes differ quite considerably in each year but this is perhaps not surprising. The latter might be expected to emphasise popularity or memorable individual performances and favour players who remain with the club and injury-free for large parts of a season. The player ratings measure quality across the games in which players actually appear.
The figures for individual players bear out the view that Watford is a club which substitutes teamwork for its lack of star players. Over the four seasons surveyed, no fewer than fourteen different players appear amongst the five highest rated. The 'Player of the Season' figures add a further five names to the total. By these measures, our 'star players' ought to be Robert Page, who is named for each of the four years (although only in the 'Player of the Season' rankings this year) and Nigel Gibbs, among the top five rated players in the last three years and the only player this season who had previously been so ranked. It is unlikely, however, that those outside the club see either of these players as 'stars' and Gibbs' achievement comes despite not being a first choice player for the last two seasons. The figures do, however, offer qualified support to the club's youth policy. Of the nineteen players named in one or other set of rankings, six graduated from the youth team.
Last season, then, was one of fewer games but more players used and one in which new players emerged. Of the five top-rated players, all but Gibbs were new to the top five and of these only Tommy Smith was even appearing for Watford two seasons earlier (and he only played two games in that season). Perhaps the emergence of these players supports the idea of an improved team for the coming season after all.
|Number of games
|Number of players used
|Most games played
|Players used in 5 or more games
|Highest average rating
|Next highest average ratings
|Mean player average rating
|BSaD Player of the Season2
(Top 3, with average ratings in brackets)
1 Includes playoffs.
2 The aggregate of BSaD's Player of the Month vote, which began in the 1997-98 season.