Position: Central defender
From: Ipswich Town - free transfer - December 2002
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Awaiting his chance, again
Past profiles: April 2002
Loan players used to be something of an enigma around Watford. Generally speaking, they would lig around for a month or so, until you and the Watford manager of the time forgot about them, by which time they would be back on the train whence they came. You'd have to go back to the end of the 1993/94 season, when Glenn Roeder borrowed and subsequently bought a journeyman striker from Southend, to find a loan signing making an impact. Recently, however, we've done pretty well out of loans. Danny Webber and Jermaine Pennant stand out and so does Wayne Brown.
When he came for a two month spell from Ipswich, just before the cull that got rid of Vega and Issa, nobody really knew much about him. Frustrated by his lack of first team chances for the Tractor Boys, Brown came in to Luca Vialli's defence and revitalised it. We'd replaced the dubious abilities of the highly-paid pair with a proper defender. When the ball wanted clearing, he clobbered it away. If the ball was in the air, he'd win every header. His attitude helped to galvanise the rest of the squad and he formed a formidable partnership with Filippo Galli. Rudely enough, he even weighed in with three goals. In fact, Wayne Brown hurled himself so wholeheartedly into whatever was asked of him that you rather imagined that he'd have chained himself to the East Stand rather than be forced to return to Portman Road.
However, injury brought a premature end to the spell and back he went. Watford's season ended in abject misery and the financial problems reared their heads, reducing our chances of signing him to nil. When Ipswich got relegated, you felt sure that he'd get into their First Division side and seal his place there. He got into the team but Ipswich were struggling as George Burley's reign was drawing to a close. When the axe fell, Brown was back out of the side and quoted as saying that he wanted first team football. New boss Joe Royle wasn't exactly enamoured by this, so he promptly gave Wayne a free transfer instead. The Watford faithful hoped we could get him back, despite the monetary concerns. At first, his demands seemed too high, then a director stepped in, offered to help pay the wages and Wayne rejoined the club with the promise of competitive action.
It hasn't panned out that way, not yet at least. His signing seemed to provide the catalyst for Marcus Gayle to complete his spectacular transformation into a centre half and, with Watford adopting a 4-4-2 formation, Wayne came into the side at left back. After a couple of shaky displays, Robbo returned to the role and Wayne was back in the same situation as Ipswich, on the outside looking in, and sharing sub duties with a fit again Sean Dyche. When Watford switched to a 3-5-2 for the game at Walsall, Wayne came in but the player and the team struggled to adapt, so no joy there. In fact, after four months, Wayne still hasn't re-established himself in the side and his only start in his favoured role was in the derisory game against Preston.
None of this is his fault, really. It's just that his signing promised much more. I'm sure his defensive abilities are there, as we saw last season, he just needs that break to get the regular first team action he still craves....
Last updated: March 2003