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Marcus Gayle
Position: Centre forward/left winger
From: Glasgow Rangers - £900,000 - August 2001
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Deeply depressed


So, Marcus Gayle. At Wimbledon, he was quality. Nobody can deny this - particularly on account of his unfailing knack of scoring against us. A consistent Premiership performer, a few touted him as England's left sided solution. When, eighteen months ago, he had his pick of top flight clubs, he chose Rangers. The tactical genius of Dick Advocaat - soon to be embarrassing Holland at international level - played him four times in the entire season.

Then, to kickstart his career, he comes to Watford. Everyone agrees he plays well enough in the first few games. A bit rusty, a bit slower, yes, but with tremendous enthusiasm, a fearsome shot, an accurate flick, and the strength of an ox with his back to goal. His free kicks are hilarious - in a very good way. It's only a matter of time before he snaps the crossbar in two. By the end of October, he's our leading scorer, a terrace hero in the making; against Plymouth in the Worthless, he's the captain. He scored, too.

Then, just as he's getting into the swing of things, flu and a back injury. Since then, as I have said before, he has stomped up and down the wing with the poise, control and acceleration of an Ed209 with no guns. Apart from a lucky consolation goal against Arsenal (which Stuart Taylor was visibily mortified to have conceded), the guy has shown nothing at all.

As a result of this, and Ramon Vega's transformation into a reliable and capable defender, Watford's faithful have picked him out as a scapegoat, icon of Vialli's supposed wasteful overspending. Whenever back in the team due to injury to Smith and/or suspension of Helguson (never the other way around, obviously), he's done something woeful and catastrophic.

After Burnley (H), one fears the worst for Marcus. After missing a penalty, and an easy chance, he apparently left the pitch in tears, to a chorus of boos and "What a waste of money". This is a man of great talent and ability whose confidence is so low he's probably closer to suicide than he is to getting on the scoresheet. Heaven knows, we all want to see the powerful and skilful leader back in town; but somehow one gets the feeling that he's gone forever.

Daniel Lester
Last updated: February 2002