Watford fan Charlie Doris believes the Hornets' struggling away form has been due to a lack of potency up front

Watford drew at struggling Yeovil Town last month. Picture: Action Images

Watford drew at struggling Yeovil Town last month. Picture: Action Images

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Watford’s encouraging five-game unbeaten run under new boss Giuseppe Sannino unfortunately came to dismal end at the Reebok stadium last weekend.

A performance littered with individual errors and a lack of cohesion across the Hornets ranks; put a dampener on what seemed to be an encouraging period in a stuttering season.

Sannino claimed after that disappointing defeat that he has been impressed with the defensive solidity of his freshly moulded Hornets side, but there are fears they are not offering enough going forward, especially away from home.

Despite winning their last five home games and conceding no goals in the process, the Hornets haven’t won away since early October.

This is a stark contrast to the emphatic away form the Hornets showed last season.

Our ability to put teams on the back foot and counter attack with the same devastating efficiency away from home has arguably declined since the departure of last season’s top scorer Matej Vydra.

Of course, it would be quite naïve to think Vydra moving on is the sole reason for the team’s recent fall from grace.

However, his pace and movement was a vital component of the Hornets attacking threat last season and hasn’t been replaced adequately by Gianfranco Zola or Sannino.

Vydra had the mobility to force opposition defences to drop deeper and allow Watford to stamp their authority on matches, something which they have struggled to do on a regular basis this campaign.

His telepathic understanding with Troy Deeney, who is only now returning back to his best form, led to the pair scoring an impressive 40 goals for the Hornets last season. Undoubtedly the little forward has left a huge void to fill.

After acquiring the likes of Javier Acuna, Diego Fabbrini and Mathias Ranegie, Watford are still to find a winning ticket from the Pozzo’s recruitment lottery.

The latter of the trio made an impressive home debut against Blackpool on Saturday grabbing a clinical brace.

Ranegie’s power and promising link up play with Deeney gave Watford an added dimension, albeit against a hapless Blackpool defence. However, it is still early days for the big Swedish striker.

Maybe it is time the Hornets start looking closer to home for a potential replacement.

In Sannino’s defence, January is not the easiest time, for any manager, to bring in a player that can make a genuine difference to the rest of their season. Look at Arsene Wenger.

Arguably though, it seems Watford had their replacement for Vydra before a ball was kicked this season. Britt Assombalonga.

Sold to Peterborough in the summer, Assombalonga has already netted on 24 occasions for the Posh.

Although we thought we saw the Pozzo’s well documented business savvy by securing first refusal on the forward, if he decided to leave the Posh, we are now the ones with egg on our faces.

In all the good that has come from the Pozzo’s takeover, their recruitment policy has resulted in an academy gem falling by the wayside.

While Deeney and Fernando Forestieri continue to show glimpses of what they can offer, the Hornets, without Vydra, are struggling to recreate the attacking form which carved open Championship defences last season.

The board will no doubt reassume their raid on the fringe players of Udinese and Granada this summer, but while they do, they miss out on the many suitable replacements the Football League has to offer.

After the Hornet’s ruthless victory over Blackpool, we now sit seven points off the play-offs with three very winnable fixtures on the horizon.

Watford will need to take their impressive home form under Sannino on the road, if they are to have any chance of reaching the play-off places come May.

Will the inefficiencies of Zola and Sannino in their respective transfer windows, lead to Watford settling for midtable mediocrity this season?

And if so, is it now time for Watford’s scouting network to be honed in on more familiar territory, that is the green, green grass of home?

Comments (17)

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3:53pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Nick El Greco says...

It must be a slow news week if they're reduced to filling up space with this
It must be a slow news week if they're reduced to filling up space with this Nick El Greco
  • Score: 11

4:04pm Mon 3 Mar 14

CARDIFFHORN says...

Assombalonga was not a ready made replacement for Vydra, not enough pace.
Assombalonga was not a ready made replacement for Vydra, not enough pace. CARDIFFHORN
  • Score: 16

5:57pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Oracledave says...

Yet again an article in which the key argument is founded on the totally unsupportable assumption that goals in Div 1 automatically mean goals in the Championship. More than enough evidence to suggest that is not the case !
Yet again an article in which the key argument is founded on the totally unsupportable assumption that goals in Div 1 automatically mean goals in the Championship. More than enough evidence to suggest that is not the case ! Oracledave
  • Score: 12

6:33pm Mon 3 Mar 14

FestersVespas says...

Well done Sherlock, no Vydra and no replacement (and Abdi's loss, 12 goals + 8 assists last season) somehow resulted in fewer goals.
However, 4 losses on the road against 6 losses at home shows the main reason we are not in the top 6.
Sort out the home form and the rest will follow.
Sannino has a done a superb job so far, long may it continue ...
COYH.
Well done Sherlock, no Vydra and no replacement (and Abdi's loss, 12 goals + 8 assists last season) somehow resulted in fewer goals. However, 4 losses on the road against 6 losses at home shows the main reason we are not in the top 6. Sort out the home form and the rest will follow. Sannino has a done a superb job so far, long may it continue ... COYH. FestersVespas
  • Score: 12

8:31pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Watford Willie says...

'Watford fan Charlie Doris believes the Hornets' struggling away form has been due to a lack of potency up front'

What a great title and a load of codswallop. We are the 3rd highest away scorers in the division !!! Behind 1st and 2nd placed Leicester and Derby !
'Watford fan Charlie Doris believes the Hornets' struggling away form has been due to a lack of potency up front' What a great title and a load of codswallop. We are the 3rd highest away scorers in the division !!! Behind 1st and 2nd placed Leicester and Derby ! Watford Willie
  • Score: 11

8:46pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Drewoneone says...

What a complete waste of the last 5 minutes of my life. I've just read the above article. Utter recycled tosh.

Brit may have promise but he is playing in League 1 for a team that are slipping down the table. No mention of Joe Garner at Preston then? He has scored 18 goals this season. Should we be clamouring for his return too. After all he made such an impact at Watford before being shipped out by the Pozzos.
What a complete waste of the last 5 minutes of my life. I've just read the above article. Utter recycled tosh. Brit may have promise but he is playing in League 1 for a team that are slipping down the table. No mention of Joe Garner at Preston then? He has scored 18 goals this season. Should we be clamouring for his return too. After all he made such an impact at Watford before being shipped out by the Pozzos. Drewoneone
  • Score: 12

8:55pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Watford Willie says...

Drewoneone wrote:
What a complete waste of the last 5 minutes of my life. I've just read the above article. Utter recycled tosh.

Brit may have promise but he is playing in League 1 for a team that are slipping down the table. No mention of Joe Garner at Preston then? He has scored 18 goals this season. Should we be clamouring for his return too. After all he made such an impact at Watford before being shipped out by the Pozzos.
Glad I didn't bother reading it after looking at the title.
[quote][p][bold]Drewoneone[/bold] wrote: What a complete waste of the last 5 minutes of my life. I've just read the above article. Utter recycled tosh. Brit may have promise but he is playing in League 1 for a team that are slipping down the table. No mention of Joe Garner at Preston then? He has scored 18 goals this season. Should we be clamouring for his return too. After all he made such an impact at Watford before being shipped out by the Pozzos.[/p][/quote]Glad I didn't bother reading it after looking at the title. Watford Willie
  • Score: 5

9:09pm Mon 3 Mar 14

cliff46 says...

"They miss out on the the many suitable replacements the football league has to offer".
He didn't tell us who the many suitable replacements for Vydra are? And he didn't say if they are all affordable?
"They miss out on the the many suitable replacements the football league has to offer". He didn't tell us who the many suitable replacements for Vydra are? And he didn't say if they are all affordable? cliff46
  • Score: 5

10:37pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Bush Hornet says...

Yawn
Yawn Bush Hornet
  • Score: 4

8:12am Tue 4 Mar 14

Dollyhat says...

Please can we stop comparing Assombalonga with Vydra. I have seen Assombalonga twice this season playing for Posh the latest time only last week. He is, at this moment, not ready for championship football. I think the fee in excess of a £ million we received for him was excellent business. If he was still with us he would be nowhere near the 1st team. Probably out on loan somewhere.
Please can we stop comparing Assombalonga with Vydra. I have seen Assombalonga twice this season playing for Posh the latest time only last week. He is, at this moment, not ready for championship football. I think the fee in excess of a £ million we received for him was excellent business. If he was still with us he would be nowhere near the 1st team. Probably out on loan somewhere. Dollyhat
  • Score: 7

9:32am Tue 4 Mar 14

Harry's Bar says...

When the article states that Vydra "hasn’t been replaced adequately by Gianfranco Zola or Sannino" you do wonder if the author understands how recruitment works at the Club.
When the article states that Vydra "hasn’t been replaced adequately by Gianfranco Zola or Sannino" you do wonder if the author understands how recruitment works at the Club. Harry's Bar
  • Score: 6

11:22am Tue 4 Mar 14

WessexLad says...

It's not so much that we lack pace, having won back possession, we just don't launch our attacks quickly enough. Get the ball out to the wing backs and get the crosses in before the opposing defence has got itself organised.

The winning goal in the play-off v Leicester shows that we can do it with the players we have - but only if that is in the mind set.
It's not so much that we lack pace, having won back possession, we just don't launch our attacks quickly enough. Get the ball out to the wing backs and get the crosses in before the opposing defence has got itself organised. The winning goal in the play-off v Leicester shows that we can do it with the players we have - but only if that is in the mind set. WessexLad
  • Score: 4

12:02pm Tue 4 Mar 14

WFCinexile says...

Selling a promising player that is unproven at this level for £1.5 million does not constitute 'falling by the wayside'.

Conceding too many goals last season and this is what has hurt us.

I believe there is plenty of improvement that can be made in our recruitment policy and I'd like to see more homegrown talent in our starting 11. The players we bought in left us with an imbalanced squad with, IMO, not enough championship nous. That said, we are in a far better place as a club for having the Pozzo's and this strategy and we were with what went before.
Selling a promising player that is unproven at this level for £1.5 million does not constitute 'falling by the wayside'. Conceding too many goals last season and this is what has hurt us. I believe there is plenty of improvement that can be made in our recruitment policy and I'd like to see more homegrown talent in our starting 11. The players we bought in left us with an imbalanced squad with, IMO, not enough championship nous. That said, we are in a far better place as a club for having the Pozzo's and this strategy and we were with what went before. WFCinexile
  • Score: 4

12:14pm Tue 4 Mar 14

Harry's Bar says...

WessexLad wrote:
It's not so much that we lack pace, having won back possession, we just don't launch our attacks quickly enough. Get the ball out to the wing backs and get the crosses in before the opposing defence has got itself organised.

The winning goal in the play-off v Leicester shows that we can do it with the players we have - but only if that is in the mind set.
The assertion that the we struggle because of a lack of potency up front is too simplistic. That may be the effect but the cause lies further back, not simply because there's no Vydra. there's also no Abdi or Chalobah. Why do we miss Abdi so much, what does he do that others don't do? He drives us forward quickly. It's difficult to be potent up front with slow build up and defenders all in position.
[quote][p][bold]WessexLad[/bold] wrote: It's not so much that we lack pace, having won back possession, we just don't launch our attacks quickly enough. Get the ball out to the wing backs and get the crosses in before the opposing defence has got itself organised. The winning goal in the play-off v Leicester shows that we can do it with the players we have - but only if that is in the mind set.[/p][/quote]The assertion that the we struggle because of a lack of potency up front is too simplistic. That may be the effect but the cause lies further back, not simply because there's no Vydra. there's also no Abdi or Chalobah. Why do we miss Abdi so much, what does he do that others don't do? He drives us forward quickly. It's difficult to be potent up front with slow build up and defenders all in position. Harry's Bar
  • Score: 4

4:02pm Tue 4 Mar 14

soulfulhornet says...

Harry's Bar wrote:
WessexLad wrote:
It's not so much that we lack pace, having won back possession, we just don't launch our attacks quickly enough. Get the ball out to the wing backs and get the crosses in before the opposing defence has got itself organised.

The winning goal in the play-off v Leicester shows that we can do it with the players we have - but only if that is in the mind set.
The assertion that the we struggle because of a lack of potency up front is too simplistic. That may be the effect but the cause lies further back, not simply because there's no Vydra. there's also no Abdi or Chalobah. Why do we miss Abdi so much, what does he do that others don't do? He drives us forward quickly. It's difficult to be potent up front with slow build up and defenders all in position.
Good point, the best teams attack and indeed defend as a team. Abdi's injury is one of the major reasons why we have under-performed this term. Murray, Battochio and McGugan have done well at times, but not game in game out in the attacking role.

IMO Abdi gives the following:
goal scoring threat.
good dead ball delivery.
vision.
quickness - not outright speed but of thought.
quality passing / through ball.
cements/ glues the team linking defenders/ attackers.
leads by example.

Last term Almen was out with 2 injuries including after the Leeds game when the team really started to gel, but at that time we had other threats that were working e.g. the pace/ finishing ability of Matej and the explosive pace of Anya.

Against Blackpool we looked a real threat - other than the first half v Man City and 10 men Millwall, the most since Abdi was injured in August!

Now Ranegie's is fit and match fit and is learning to cope with the Championship, we may have a double scoring threat for the first time since Vydra left.

And then there is Fernando to add the unexpected and that touch of skill and magic - a lot easier for him if he is not the primary threat!
Suddenly we look potent!
[quote][p][bold]Harry's Bar[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]WessexLad[/bold] wrote: It's not so much that we lack pace, having won back possession, we just don't launch our attacks quickly enough. Get the ball out to the wing backs and get the crosses in before the opposing defence has got itself organised. The winning goal in the play-off v Leicester shows that we can do it with the players we have - but only if that is in the mind set.[/p][/quote]The assertion that the we struggle because of a lack of potency up front is too simplistic. That may be the effect but the cause lies further back, not simply because there's no Vydra. there's also no Abdi or Chalobah. Why do we miss Abdi so much, what does he do that others don't do? He drives us forward quickly. It's difficult to be potent up front with slow build up and defenders all in position.[/p][/quote]Good point, the best teams attack and indeed defend as a team. Abdi's injury is one of the major reasons why we have under-performed this term. Murray, Battochio and McGugan have done well at times, but not game in game out in the attacking role. IMO Abdi gives the following: goal scoring threat. good dead ball delivery. vision. quickness - not outright speed but of thought. quality passing / through ball. cements/ glues the team linking defenders/ attackers. leads by example. Last term Almen was out with 2 injuries including after the Leeds game when the team really started to gel, but at that time we had other threats that were working e.g. the pace/ finishing ability of Matej and the explosive pace of Anya. Against Blackpool we looked a real threat - other than the first half v Man City and 10 men Millwall, the most since Abdi was injured in August! Now Ranegie's is fit and match fit and is learning to cope with the Championship, we may have a double scoring threat for the first time since Vydra left. And then there is Fernando to add the unexpected and that touch of skill and magic - a lot easier for him if he is not the primary threat! Suddenly we look potent! soulfulhornet
  • Score: 0

12:12am Wed 5 Mar 14

Chris the Vic says...

Time will tell, but I suspect our future gem is on loan at crewe. Another year and troy and Mathias will have real competition.

Like so many we know the real problems have been in defence and with the midfield lacking Almen and a holding midfielder.

Now we just miss Almen and the results are getting better, perhaps too late for this season but life at WFC is full of promise.

A good pitch, a side that plays football and a new stand and No threat of Administration....li
fe does not get much better.

And yet the Doris whines...maybe he/she has amnesia
Time will tell, but I suspect our future gem is on loan at crewe. Another year and troy and Mathias will have real competition. Like so many we know the real problems have been in defence and with the midfield lacking Almen and a holding midfielder. Now we just miss Almen and the results are getting better, perhaps too late for this season but life at WFC is full of promise. A good pitch, a side that plays football and a new stand and No threat of Administration....li fe does not get much better. And yet the Doris whines...maybe he/she has amnesia Chris the Vic
  • Score: 1

9:39am Wed 5 Mar 14

bristol hornet says...

For those pushing the case for Assombolonga, he was only a sub again last night in Peterboro's 2-0 defeat at Sheff Utd, and has been "dropped" several times this season!

Scoring goals in league one (eg Joe Garner at Preston) does not always mean goals in the much more difficult league of the Championship.
For those pushing the case for Assombolonga, he was only a sub again last night in Peterboro's 2-0 defeat at Sheff Utd, and has been "dropped" several times this season! Scoring goals in league one (eg Joe Garner at Preston) does not always mean goals in the much more difficult league of the Championship. bristol hornet
  • Score: 3

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