From: Barnsley - free transfer - July 2003
Record (03-05): Played: 46(32) Scored: 14
Record (total): Played: 82(34) Scored: 23
To: Stoke City - free transfer - June 2005
Career stats: Soccerbase
See also: Past player profiles
He was: Surplus to requirements
Interesting one, this.
The release of Bruce Dyer has been one of the less controversial events of the summer of 2005, merely mentioned as one of a surprisingly large list of releases that came at the end of the season. It wasn't unexpected: even though Danny Webber and Heidar Helguson were heading out the door, Adrian Boothroyd had already been noted as one to value youth – Bruce turned thirty in April – and verve over solidity. Bruce Dyer, you imagine, was just not his sort of player. Mind you, as a senior player (and thus a largish pay packet) without a regular starting place, you can see how inevitable his departure actually was.
Bruce's return to Watford came in the summer of 2003, the first member of Watford's new-look (and cheaper) forward line. Somewhat overlooked after the surprise arrival of Danny Webber, he was, nevertheless, a welcome addition to our squad. He was a typical Lewington signing: pragmatic, cheap and experienced, and a healthy, if not spectacular, goals record boded well for his second spell at Vicarage Road, as did a high-scoring pre-season.
It did not turn out so well, however. A training ground injury, which Bruce apparently thought not worth mentioning to the physios, meant a quick curtailment to his pre-season form. Slow and awkward, his confidence tumbled; no doubt he was not helped by the dark mood that caused the disastrous form of early 2003/04.
By while others recovered, Bruce did not. Out of the side by October, he became the boo-boy of the moronic section of Watford's support. His starts were infrequent – only four from October until April when, finally, he got a run in the side, netting two goals in the process and showing signs of a return to form.
This continued into 2004/05. Whilst still not given a regular starting position, he did well coming off the bench and slotted into the side when necessary. Not a conventional target man, he nonetheless brought coherence to the forward play, often laying off balls for other players rather than choosing to turn and shoot himself.
His eleven goals - a superb total considering the number of starts he was given - were scored mostly in purple patches in autumn and spring when he had to deputise for the injured Webber and Helguson respectively, and were a vital and massively overlooked contribution to Watford's survival.
And now he's gone, the first of Betty's summer clear-out.
Adrian Boothroyd clearly has a specific way of doing things. He likes a certain style of player, of staff, of play. And that's not necessarily a bad thing – hell, it could do wonders - but I fail to see the logic in letting Bruce Dyer go. He may not be fashionable, or lightning-quick, or whatever, as his replacements are. Players with flair, flamboyance but also with that element of risk. He was dependable, able to come into a forward line and bring cohesion where there was previously mess. Pop a goal in here and there.
I find it difficult to imagine that a squad like ours doesn't require a player like that.