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Squad report
By Matt Bunner
Let's pull no punches. This season has been very disappointing. I was hoping that over the course of the season I would get an inkling of where Vialli is taking us but if I'm honest, I think we've gone backwards. Gradual development of the team and style of play was to be the priority this season and if promotion came then that would be a bonus, yet I'm left with a sense of "what's going on?". There have been some whopping mistakes made this year and surely it's soooo obvious that players are not that flexible at this level playing out of position. Squad rotation is another idea that can work but this season it has been a disaster. We need a core first team and then to build/reshuffle around that - shipping players in and out is not the answer and has led to gross inconsistency. Play your best eleven at all times and they will learn to play together as a team. We've played as strangers too many times this season (as an aside, England have to be playing their best eleven NOW so that come the World Cup they're a team - France didn't mess about in playing second string eleven against Scotland, did they?).

Now that I've discussed my feelings on the team management, I need to look at the players. I'll praise Vialli for using youngsters this year and trying to get them to play football and learn from the more experienced team members. But some of the players need to look at themselves and ponder if they were just there for a free lunch. I'll look at each member of the first-team playing squad this year and sum up their efforts and abilities this season and assess, in US football style, whether they've done enough to earn a place in next season's squad.


Alec Chamberlain: Regained his place away at Sheffield United at the end of October and has been in excellent form since. Commands his box and organises well, but I'm more impressed with his positioning and shot stopping. Hope to see him next year - STAY.

Espen Baardsen: Came with a great reputation from Spurs and I for one thought it was a brilliant signing. No doubting he can pull out incredible saves but he cannot command the box despite being 6'5" and his kicking is poor. I believe that he needs to move on and let his place be taken by a younger, keener keeper, freeing up some money on wages! GO.


Patrick Blondeau: Sorry, just don't see it. Obviously has come here to provide vital playing experience but has been anonymous on most occasions. Provides good attacking support but disappears when it comes to defending. GO.

Paul Robinson: Obviously the fans' favourite but has a tendency to put in disastrously inept displays - Sheffield United being the latest one. Since his inclusion in the U21s a few years ago, he has gone backwards but always gives 100%. The arrival of Wayne Brown showed what a left back/defender should be doing and I think Robbo can reach that height again. We want more of the Charlton display rather than the Sheffield United display. STAY.

Neil Cox: A true professional. Not brilliant, but consistently very good and has thoroughly earnt his contract. I think he's more comfortable at centre half rather than right back, but I'd prefer Coxy at right back over Blondeau. Can be predictable with his sixty yard cross balls - some days he's brilliant, others not so. Worth keeping. STAY.

Lloyd Doyley: A youngster given his chance this year and largely has taken it. Prone to falling/slipping over a lot but has some confidence and pace. Delivery is suspect but more of a defender than Blondeau. I'd like to see him given a run in the team. STAY.

Wayne Brown: Minutes after coming on provides a raking pass for GNW at Preston. Scored occasional goals as any decent defender should. Goes about his play with unruffled ease and poise and looks like a classy defender. Every effort must be made to secure him as he is exactly what we need next year. Can we swap Vega's contract for Brown's? STAY.

Filippo Galli: Took a bit of time to settle in but has played brilliantly recently. He is so far above the rest in terms of quality. Doesn't give the forwards a yard as he's always down their neck; intercepts at the right time. Other defenders must learn from him. Brown and Galli in defence next year would be nice, but at thirty-eight time is not on his side...but age is nothing compared to quality. STAY.

Pierre Issa: Made his debut in midfield. Totally lost. Moved to centre half for the second period. Totally found. Get the feeling he's playing to prolong his career to get him the SA World Cup squad. An okay player but not what we want. GO.

Ramon Vega: Showed fleeting glimpses of his golden years when we're up against it, but mostly has been rubbish. Looks like he toils around the pitch, sometimes can't win a header for toffee and has distribution that makes Pagey look like Glenn Hoddle. Money well spent? Do me a favour! GO.

James Panayi: Did he shag one of the directors' daughters?! Played very well when given a chance and then just disappeared. As I don't watch the Stiffs, I can only assume he's been rubbish for them. Well, I saw some potential... STAY.


Gary Fisken: Hmmm. Had two stints in the team but was always first to go when things went bad. Can't really think what he does well, just a good all-round egg, I suppose. In a club with numerous midfielders, I feel that he's outgunned. GO.

Stephen Glass: I thought he was a great free signing, but hasn't really delivered if I'm being honest. For a Premiership player at Newcastle, I was expecting him to show Premiership quality but it hasn't been there. Crosses have been good, but I reckon pocket-rocket McNamee has delivered more in a few weeks than Glass has all season. The key thing is that you don't miss him when he's not there and that speaks volumes. GO.

Jamie Hand: I see some real potential here. Looks confident on the ball and does simple things well. Should be given a run in the first team. STAY.

Stephen Hughes: Unlucky with injuries, but never showed any promise, talent, ability, etc. Better, fitter players to be found everywhere. GO.

Micah Hyde: We all know what a quality player he can be. He's a seasonal player, but has suffered by playing with different people each week. Shows great ability and promise and that's the key. As someone said at the weekend, does the hard stuff brilliantly but cocks up the easy stuff. Like to see more goals from him. STAY.

Allan Nielsen: A busy bee in midfield and does show quality but doesn't boss the game. Should really be controlling the game more often than not. One of the high profile signings and has proved that he is worth another season. STAY.

David Noble: Confident on the ball and given time and space performs well. When crowded he disappears. I think he has more talent than Fisken but needs to show that he has. Flip a coin....STAY.

Paul Okon: Premiership experience with Boro and Australian captain. Must be quite tasty then. He plays the anchor role between the defence and the midfield - doesn't see much of the ball as it flies over his head. Ray Wilkins must always say, "That's my boy!" as Okon delivers another sideways pass. I know it's an unglamorous role he has, but show us your quality! Hasn't done enough. GO.

Paolo Vernazza: Started like a greyhound with a rocket wedged up somewhere but has put in too many anonymous performances. Again, flashes of quality but disappears when there's work to be done. STAY - just.

Gavin Mahon: Quiet start to his Vic career but believe the best will come next year. Reminds me a bit of Micah Hyde. Just don't let him in the defence! STAY.


Lee Cook: Has looked very good and has the ability to beat people and whip in a decent ball. My worry is that he is so one-footed that he can be snuffed out of the game very easily. Great potential, but must be looking at Anthony McNamee and thinking very hard. STAY.

Dominic Foley: May have a fan club, but so does Peter Sutcliffe (Dear reader, the address you're looking for is - Ed). Spent years at the club, hasn't really done anything, last minute goal excluded. Not the future of Watford FC, I'm afraid. GO.

Marcus Gayle: Bought, presumably, on the form of a few years ago. If he can't score goals in the SPL, he isn't going to in Division One. Has a clumsy first touch and for a bloke renowned for his heading, has missed more than he's scored. Biding his time before retirement, methinks. GO.

Heidar Helguson: A Mark Hughes type performance marked his debut v Liverpool a while ago. That was the high point. He is one of the better finishers in the club but that isn't saying much considering our strike force recently. Able trier, tends to get booked/sent off and has suffered from Vialli's tendency to farm him out to the wing. Would have scored more goals playing in a central striking role. I think he can score goals given the chance and he wants to play well. Hmmm. STAY.

Anthony McNamee: Looks extremely composed and confident on the ball, considering he's a boy scout in Watford colours. Shows pace, ability, kicks with both feet and has delivered some wicked crosses. Let's hope he can get up and still play when clobbered by the likes of Muscat, 'cause he's going to be. Shows considerably more promise than the other luxury players we've had. STAY.

Nordin Wooter: He can't cross the ball or shoot properly. Full of skill and no doubt he can beat people, but just like kids in the playground with a tennis ball, doesn't know when to pass or shoot. Lovely boots, mind. GO.

Gifton Noel-Williams: He will always be a bit-part goal scorer. Has lost the ability to drag the ball past and beat people. Tries to bring the ball down onto his chest which most people mistakenly judge as being rubbish in the air. Has finished reasonably well when given chances but isn't a poacher. Trouble is, with his condition, this is as good as it gets. Prove me wrong, GNW. STAY.

Jermaine Pennant: Keen as mustard to impress and certainly did. Great on the ball, but felt occasionally he chose wrong options. Needs better players around him and hence will stay at Arsenal. Smiffy, that's the level you should be at. STAY.

Tommy Smith: Gone severely off the boil by taking his off-field indecision onto the pitch. I thought this to be the season where TS would take off and show that he is too good for us but has disappointed. Needs to work hard on his dreadful first touch. Pennant and Webber are showing where TS should be. There is a case for cashing in and selling, but the freedom of contract may prevent this. Come on Smiffy, show us enthusiam at least. We know you have the ability. STAY.

Danny Webber: Extremely keen to impress all, even though he's got a decent contract awaiting at Man Utd. That's the hunger and desire that some of the other Vic staff want to show us. Sheffield United was a case in point - even though Webber should have done better in front of goal, he never stopped trying for himself and the team. Thanks Danny for your effort - you've really shown up others, but I fear that you will choose to go back to Old Trafford. Boo! Please STAY.

So there you have it. In the end, STAYs are twenty and GOs are eleven. You may agree or disagree, but what is obvious is that some changes must be made. We made a regressive step this season and that is shared between Vialli and the players. Please Vialli will you decide what is your first eleven and stick with it and don't play people out of position!