From: Watford FC Academy
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: An embryonic Johnno
For the last twenty years, Watford's youth team has been an integral part of our club, as well as the source of the vast majority of our players. I don't have the stats, but when was the last time Watford fielded a side with any less than a couple of products of this fruitful policy? Over the years, we've seen some top drawer players push through. Of course, we've also seen some right old cack (Colin Simpson, anyone?), but few can deny the vital role played by the various youth team coaches. It also helped that we, the Watford faithful, remained tolerant of these young lads when they first emerged blinking into the glare of the first team spotlight. Every young player that makes the first eleven could be the next John Barnes, Kenny Jackett, Gary Porter or Richard Johnson and even though some never made the grade, and some never looked likely too, we always gave them a fair crack of the whip...even Gerard Lavin.
So why then, do people see fit to have a go at Dominic Blizzard? Cards on the table time, I'm not about to try and tell you that he's the next great thing...after all, Blizzard does not look like a footballer. He's a gangly sort of youth, all arms and legs and ungainly running style. He also has much to learn. Just like the 1994 version of Richard Johnson, he needs to find some consistency and must improve his short passing game. And yet somewhere inside that odd looking frame beats the heart of a decent player, just waiting for the right moment to burst out. The comparison with Johnno at the same stage in his development continues. He has a real competitive edge to his game...witness a display beyond his tender years at Ipswich, where many a crunching challenge helped Watford secure an unlikely win. Also, look at the two goals he's scored...he might not have Johnson's booming shot on him, but both his goals involved arriving late in the penalty area to head home convincingly, as valuable an attribute for a central midfield player as a howitzer of a shot.
Given time, and understanding from the home stands, we could have a useful squad member on our hands. The situation at the club, with the general lack of depth in the squad, doesn't really help, though. The new manager has already shown that he'll look to Blizzard when he needs to plug gaps. A left-midfielder he most definitely is not, but that's one experiment that may always have been doomed from the off. More pressing, being the next cab off the rank behind Brynjar Gunnarsson and Gavin Mahon isn't ideal either. Having to deputise for two hard working and vastly experienced players increases the pressure on Blizzard, who has to match his older team-mates for work-rate every time he plays. A tough ask. But we don't think of these things when he misplaces a pass. We're too quick to moan at a player who has yet to complete twenty first team appearances without looking at the bigger picture. It never used to be the way we treated young players (but then, the club never used to be this way, full stop...but I digress). If we give Dominic Blizzard a fair crack of the whip, you just never know.
Last updated: April 2005