Watford 1 - West Bromwich Albion 0

Date: Saturday 3rd March 2018 
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Foster 6.6, Dawson 6.1, Hegazi 5.0, Evans 4.3, Gibbs 5.1, Phillips 3.6, Krychowiak 4.9 (McClean, 81 4.0), Livermore 4.4 (Field, 87 5.7), Brunt 5.9, Rodriguez 4.5 (Burke, 87 5.3), Rondón 6.1
Unused subs: Myhill, Nyom, Yacob, McAuley
Manager: Alan Pardew 3.5
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire) 6.0
Attendance: 20,022   Home Fans 4.4   Away Fans 7.4

Brendan Clegg:

On seeing the starting 11 I thought there were still too many of the same failing players in the team and I couldn’t work out whether we’d go 3-5-2 or 4-4-2.

Within 5 minutes of kick-off it was clear we were 4-5-1, which I think has always been the way for us to go at the start of games and certainly away from home, so I was happy about that but the big problem I thought we’d have was JRod on the left of it; we’ve known for 25 games he isn’t quick enough to play there and isn’t better out of position than McClean, Phillips, Brunt, Burke or even Leko out there.

I thought the first half was positive- we looked far more in control of the game and Greg should’ve scored first time in the opening 10. The midfield generally looked quicker and stronger than we have for months and we were getting crosses and efforts in. We did have a few lapses coming to terms with the system again and because Watford are decent, Foster came to our rescue, but I thought predictably our left side was a weakness. I think it was first half injury time before JRod made any contribution of note. 2nd half the game really opened up and there were chances again at both ends but critically in the early stages the best fell to us. Rondon did probably as well as he could when put through wide left but moments later missed the chance of the game, glancing wide from 8 yards when he surely should’ve scored.

Momentum swung back to Watford as they went 4-4-2 and started hitting it long to their two big men and we began to rock a bit. At this point I’d have got McClean or Burke on for JRod but Pardew left it and we seemed to ride out there pressure and begin to get back in it. Unfortunately a mix up where Greg (who I’d have dropped but who’d had a decent game up to that point) seemed to try and tackle Brunt and Watford won the ball high up with Deeney sent through to give Foster no chance. Cruel but typical and almost inevitable.

From then on we huffed and puffed. The subs seemed a bit strange and I’ve no idea what formation or tactics we had by the end but the limited McClean managed to run half a pitch and cross it from the left in the 10 minutes he had (Rodriguez couldn’t do this on his 85), Field looked tidy on the ball and Burke showed his typical promise, weakness, threat and naivety in a 5 minute or so cameo.

In the end Daws went up top and won everything in the air but nothing came off.

And so we lost again, albeit with a performance that on a season of mid-table mediocrity would have been fine. In fairness to Pardew, I agreed with everything he said after the game in that the players gave it everything and fought for it without question but that our quality in front of goal was lacking. If last week was the nadir of his tenure at least there was pride in this performance and had Sturridge, Chadli, Mozza or all 3 been available for him to select in this match and the other 15 or so he’s had things might have been different.

But he should still go and I increasingly feel we should take a punt on a young promising manager who might come, as we did with Mowbray. I think Rowett is destined to get to the top flight and we might be the vehicle for it, otherwise Graham Potter must be worth a punt. From here on in I’d pick players who’ll be with us next season for the benefit of the club, not the careers of anyone else.

  • Foster - 7 Kept us in it. Is too good for the championship
  • Daws - 6 Did a decent job on Richarlison but not great on the ball.
  • Hegazi - 6 Struggled with Watford’s strength but will learn from it. Not as assured on the ball as normal.
  • Evans - 6 Also got bullied a bit but did okay.
  • Gibbs - 6 Not as good or fluid as he was but another who did his job.
  • Phillips - 6 A lot of people understandably thought he shouldn’t have started but in fairness had his fullback on toast, just that quality of delivery was missing despite his stream of crosses but much improved and more like it.
  • Greg - 6 3rd game on the trot he’s cost us a goal but he looked much more like a player and at least fought for it more.
  • Livermore- 6 Did give us that energy and strength we’ve been missing and is fine in the defensive role despite him having a turning circle like the titanic and occasionally a first touch that makes you wonder how he’s playing at this level let alone being an England squad regular.
  • Brunt - 6 Really tried to make things happen but couldn’t deliver that pass or set piece. Did the defensive job too.
  • JRod - 4 Seems to go under the radar with many people but was largely anonymous despite trying hard and the odd useful touch. Just not quick enough over the first 10 yards.
  • Rondon - 7 What can you say? If he’d put his chances away, especially the header, it’d be a 9. Watford are a big tough side but he was a battering ram, he ran his legs off, he won and kept balls he had no right to win and seemed to be sprinting at full tilt for most of the game. But he missed a sitter at a critical time and undid some of his hard work by not making 5 yard passes & his decision-making ain’t great. Can’t fault him and yet he probably epitomises our season in the main.
  • McClean, Burke & Field - They all did okay and each could make a justified claim to start games, but it was too uphill when they came on.

Talyllyn Baggie:

Genuinely looking forward to the Championship- entertaining football at last!

Paul Collins:

I do not remember too much from my schooldays - it is over fifty years ago - but clearly recall the football coach hitting us about the head with 'do not play offside when the opposition are running at you with the ball'.

As an experienced international player Jonny Evans should be marked one out of ten for that very costly instance alone.