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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
By Adrian Barrett
Bryn's gone. Shame, I liked him.

The Icelander, although a little injury-prone, was fantastic last season in quite a number of games. As soon as our new young manager was installed as the best choice out of a cast of four, namely Aidy, Boothroyd, Betty and not forgetting AB, our Bryn seemed destined to leave.

Now, I have no real idea why he has left. Sometimes I want to know; sometimes I prefer to keep my naÔvety and not know, so as to preserve something of a childlike hero worship of the place. But unfortunately, adult life has dealt me rapidly increasing age and I really want to know why because I need my security like all good middle-aged dullards. It could be very, very sinister and I want to get out from under these covers.

I have read on our daily drivel factory more commonly known as the WML that apparently Byrnjar Gunnarsson was so appalled at the handling of Ray Lewington that he wanted to leave immediately. His being played at right back by AB (who won by the way) in that strange run-in of last season could point to that being true. Betty (who also won but some people don't like his name so he has been ostracised) may have slapped his naughty boy botty and told him, "You are a pro, lad, git ahht the-er and act laak it son" (he's from Kabul by the way, so watch it). Or it could be that he was played at right back to test his versatility and he failed the test. Probably something in the middle with Aidy (second) sitting down with the Brynjar and agreeing that if his heart wasn't in it, he could find himself another club but would be welcome to stay and fight for a place if nothing came up. In the overall scheme of things, it really doesn't matter; no, really, it doesn't.

Next week is a Fans' Forum. Fair enough, as long as the questions I want answered are answered and answered properly, not like I am a kid, not treating me like a flippin' idiot Simpson, Ashton, Boothroyd (got the shit job), Russos and all the boss-eyed, hairy-eared, spotty, geeky, lily-livered, nose-picking, nasty little people running my club, I hear you say.

Go easy on them.

Graham Simpson has dragged the club kicking and screaming from the Abyss of the Vialli year. A year, so much trouble from one stupid, stupid, stupid year. He does not have an enviable task trying to balance the wishes of the fans over the need to generate revenue. It is possible that Lewington leaving was because they really did have it on good authority that this bloke at Leeds is the next big thing. Mark Ashton knew him, they may have asked some trusted people. They may be wrong.

Lewington had a good coach in Terry Burton and it does seem that as soon as Burton left we went into League freefall. The League Cup run was really fun (much more fun than the FA Cup run in 2003) but I remember a similar atmosphere for the Charlton cup game in the Abyss as we had against Southampton. We, the fans of Watford, should also take some credit for the atmosphere we can create at home nowadays, shame we can't do it more often in the League, during the day, in January.

I never really felt that comfortable with Ray. I really can't put my finger on why, I liked his honesty in certain situations but he was a mate of Ray Wilkins. Maybe that's it. He had said earlier in the season that he knew he would be sacked one day by Simpson. That statement is pretty negative and is probably better left unsaid, even though it was honest and even prophetic. Maybe the board wanted someone with ambition.

Was Lewington treated shabbily? In most walks of life, yes; in football, no. His contract will be honoured by the club, it has to be. Was the sacking of Lewington going against the "family ethos" - well, how do you do it? Football is a cut throat game full of money-grabbing young men with older ex-footballers, failed footballers and other shysters behind them. Being a football club at all goes against many family ethos values, so perhaps we should pack it in altogether. How ever soft and cuddly we would like to be, in this world you have to appear ruthless sometimes. Whether you agree with the club getting rid of Ray Lewington or not, the club thought he ought to go, so they sacked him. If we were bottom of the table and almost down, would it have been right to do it then? Where's the family ethos now? The club wanted to relieve Lewington of the job, that is their prerogative; if you don't agree, give them £10m and then you can tell them where they went wrong.

Nigel Gibbs has left the club against the wishes of the fans. I would really, wholeheartedly and categorically, like to know why. Surely there was something he could do. He had been a successful championship reserve team manager. It appears to me that it was an Adrian Boothroyd decision.

The club may have missed a trick. If Boothroyd fails, we have lost a possible steadier of the ship; if Boothroyd is successful, he could go on to bigger things (like Moyes at Preston), and it would be nice to have someone for continuity. The next manager should be being groomed now. It would have been nice to have been Nigel Gibbs but would he have felt that his nose was being put out of joint having a younger man before him? It was surely down to the club that he left completely, even if Boothroyd wanted him out regardless. They should been more in control. It is quite within Boothroyd's right to decide his coaching staff. He has not rejected all the staff at the club but I still can't understand why Nigel Gibbs went. I hope this is one thing that can seriously be ironed out as it has become a chasm between board and fans.

And as for the Watford Observer.

Why weren't the Watford Observer privy to the Nigel Gibbs story? Why is the Observer suddenly not allowed privileged access when they have acted with what appears to be integrity over the years? The board must be able to accept criticism. Just because a paper says it does not make it right, but they must be allowed free speech to encourage debate and both sides of the story should be told so the club always has a right to reply. That is what I thought we were all about, as a nation and world, let alone a small town football club. Freedom of speech and not an old style Politburo dictatorship. Nigel Gibbs should be at the forum, can't see it somehow.

Adrian Boothroyd is not a pariah, he seems to act with dignity and says what he is going to do and does it. Or at least he has so far. The season starts two weeks this Saturday and I for one am looking forward to seeing a group of players commited for every game, good at defending, and I am hoping for not a little flair.

But we've sold all our good players, haven't we? Well, I'm not so sure. Commitment lasts longer than the odd Tuesday of heroics. The cup run gave a lot of us a rose-tinted view of events, including me.

If the Boothroyd era fails, we are likely to be in League One (I don't really care what it is called, it is still somewhere I don't want to be). Relegation worries me more than any other thing related to this still wonderful thing called Watford FC. Supporting your club is like a dodgy relationship with a spouse or partner. They make you feel wonderful a few times but most of the time you want to shout, scream and holler at them but know you shouldn't really. But then you get so unbelievably frustrated that you just stand up and scream and then everyone bursts into tears and loves each other really. Or you split up. I hope we get a bit of marriage guidance next Wednesday.

Domina: Forgive me for ever having mistrusted you, my darling. But you have been a little distant these past twenty-nine years.