January 24, 2007

A trip to the Premier League

Watford 2 Emerton og 12, Demerit 70

Blackburn Rovers 1 McCarthy 45

Attendance 13,766

An open letter to Richard Scudamore, CEO of the Premier League

Dear Sir

Last night I went to see (being a Bradford fan it’s a while before I’ll see it again, I think) some Premier League football. In The Best League In The WorldTM. I think you’re breaching the Trades Description Act somewhere, as I’ve seen better games in League 1 this season. Can I have my 20 quid back?


And now to the usual stuff and nonsense. A short hop on the train, I was hoping this would remind me of those days in 1999-2001. Unfortunately it reminded me of several games I’ve seen in the last 3-4 years.

First things first. We need a tenous link to Bradford, and in the Watford manager Boothroyd we have one. This could have been a blog of someone from oop North made good. I’d been curious to see whether the bad press Watford get for their style of football was justified, or whether it was another case of the London press getting on someone’s back without due cause. Well, having been to the game last night, the prosecution contends that he thought football like this died out 10 years ago.

Mindless, caveman football from the footballing dark ages with no technical merit and precious little in the way of skill or excitement is probably the best description (a whole new ball game? Ha!). Think of John Beck’s Cambridge United side of the late 80s-early 90s. Everything was long balls into the channels, playing for field position for long throws, corners and free kicks. No more than 3 passes before a mighty hoof towards the goal.

So it came to pass that the ball was worked down the Blackburn left, after an apology of a challenge from Pedersen, and a high ball to the far post saw a scramble where Brett Emerton headed past his own keeper. Blackburn tried to respond, but all too often tried to play Watford at their own game. Watford were better at it, and the two huge centrebacks had an easy time of it. Only sporadically did Rovers play any football, but when they did they carved the home side apart two or three times to give presentable chances. But the exception rather than the norm.

But on one such occasion in first half stoppage time, they were level. Some possession down the right, Bentley cut inside and beat 3 players and crossed for the unmarked McCarthy to head in off the bar. The last action of the half. It should have been impressed on them at half time that for Blackburn to win they should have kept the ball. If they did, they would win comfortably. They should have gone in front early in the second when McCarthy fired wastefully over from 6 yards with the whole of the goal to aim at.

Rovers then lost Savage (with a broken leg, it has transpired) in a ‘clumsy’ challenge from a Watford player, and McCarthy in rapid succession, and really seemed to lose their way after that. And with noone picking up at a Watford free kick, a man unmarked at the far post headed back across goal and sub Demerit bundled in. Twice in the penalty area, two goals.

Blackburn laid siege in the final 10 minutes, and Derbyshire headed over when he should have scored in the last minute. In hindsight, a 1-1 draw would have been a fair result; Watford showed just why they were at the bottom of the league, and Blackburn were very off colour, and didn’t do enough to win. A couple of players clearly didn’t fancy a cold January night away from home and spent most of the game hiding.

I shouldn’t like to have to watch Watford every week though. Still, the pies were nice…

MOTM: There wasn’t one.

Watford (4-4-2): Foster – Mariappa, Mackay, Shittu (Demerit), Stewart – Smith, Bangura, Francis, Bouazza – Hoskins (Powell), Henderson. Subs not used: Lee, Priskin, Ashikodi

Blackburn (4-4-2): Friedel – Emerton, Henchoz, Khizanishvili, McEveley – Bentley, Savage (Gallagher), Mokoena, Pedersen – Nonda, McCarthy (Derbyshire). Subs not used: Enckelman, Peter, Nolan

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