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Micah Hyde
Position: Midfield
From: Cambridge United - £150,000 - July 1997
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Every-f***ing-where. Still.
Past profiles: July 1999


In your travels around this section of BSaD, you will notice that more than a couple of the player profiles are slightly out-of-date. Well, very out-of-date. Indeed, it's become something of a tradition for various co-editors and contributors to set themselves the challenge of ploughing through all of this to bring it back into the present, to manage a couple of updates, and then to go very quiet about it for several months before renewing the promise. If you hadn't guessed, I'm the latest.

For some players, this works out rather well - Paolo Vernazza has revealed a number of flaws since I desperately wondered whether he was "rubbish at ten-pin bowling or something" in the absence of any other criticism to offer. For others, it's less kind - the vastly-improved Paul Robinson was still being compared to a dodgy boiler about eighteen months after turning into a rather potent industrial blast-furnace. And for Nicky Wright, who's barely kicked a football in a proper competitive match since his profile was last updated in 1999, it's just plain sad.

Bearing in mind that popular myth would lead you to question his consistency, it's rather telling that pretty much everything that was said about Micah Hyde in his last profile, written back in that optimistic summer of 1999, still applies. The only significant change is the unfortunate break-up of the classic, imperious Johnson-Hyde axis that powered two successive promotion campaigns. The rest is much the same...including "that lovely now-you-see-it-and-now-you-don't trick when he's closed down", which has now been out-foxing opponents for more than half a decade.

Somehow, Micah Hyde remains a little aloof, slightly detached. At his best, he simply glides through the midfield, feet dancing around challenges as if avoiding broken glass, body swaying elegantly to maintain perfect balance. The very image of poise and control. A Hyde welly is as rare as a Robbo flinch - he threads short, sharp passes around the midfield, always prompting and suggesting and linking things together. He is, quite simply, a joy to watch.

And yet all of this flamboyance is allied with real drive and aggression. When Micah Hyde is on peak form, there's not a player, manager or supporter who doesn't know about it. He intrudes on everything, everywhere - a tackle here, a defensive clearance there; a shot there, a penetrating pass here. For ninety minutes. More than anything, that is what has been so valuable over the years, for Micah Hyde has the ability to make his performance count, to maximise his impact on the game. Given the support of great, thundering heavy artillery like Richard Johnson, a Hyde-based Watford midfield can dominate entirely...but he's perfectly capable of doing it on his own, if necessary.

There are flaws, of course. Which is no bad thing, as the Micah Hyde of the preceding paragraphs would surely have been lured to the Premiership by now. Really, I'm not convinced by the common accusation of lack of consistency, and even less by the idea that he stops playing when winter sets in - at the time of writing, barely a week after half the country came to a snow-covered standstill, Micah Hyde is in simply superb form.

Nevertheless, it's certainly true that he might score more frequently, something that Ray Lewington has attempted to fix without too much success thus far. His quiet patrolling of the space on the edge of the area plays a part in countless goals, but rarely by the most direct route. So, although he does periodically find the net with one of those clean, accurate strikes from twenty yards, he doesn't have, say, Allan Nielsen's instinct around the six yard box. Which isn't a problem, merely something that he might need to work on to succeed at the highest level.

And, clearly, he's not that sensational, elegant midfield force all the time. No First Division player is that good every week. But, unlike some others, he rarely disappears - Micah Hyde is nearly always visible, even if the quality of the contribution becomes a little erratic when his form dips. It's that, perhaps, which leads people to query his consistency. Or, maybe, it's that the height of the peaks makes the troughs seem deeper than they really are.

Whatever, Micah Hyde has never received as much credit as he's been due. Perhaps more than any other player, his central role in all the major triumphs of the last few years is obvious and unarguable. He may sometimes disappoint and frustrate...but it's no coincidence that his finest performances have frequently been our finest hours. Like I say, he has the ability to make it count.

It doesn't feel as if he's been here so long. That's partly because he's never quite become a fans' player, an integral part of Watford Football Club as well as the team. But it's also because he retains the capacity to surprise, to demand that you look at him again. The tricks and the moves are familiar enough by now...but, at his breathtaking best, Micah Hyde still makes you wonder whether he's really a Watford player....

Ian Grant
Last updated: February 2003