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Gone but not forgotten:
Jose Manuel Suarez Rivas (Sietes)
Position: Defender
From: Real Murcia - Free Transfer - July 2005
Record: Played: 0 Scored: 0
To: ??? - free transfer - March 2006
Career stats: Soccerbase
See also: Past player profiles
He was: On gardening leave.

Wow. Where do I start?

I'm actually asking you: Where do I start?

Fat lot of help you are.

OK, I'll start with what I know: the context. You see, in the years ahead, when Adrian Boothroyd has taken us to "The Promised Land" ™, multiple trophies and numerous European adventures, people will forget that, once upon a time, he was rubbish.

It's usually pretty easy to tell whether a young manager is going to have a successful career or not; they tend to start as they mean to go on. One or two exceptions spring to mind: Peter Reid was crap, then great, then crap again, as was Gary Megson. But in general, the rule stands up to scrutiny. Adrian Boothroyd has also bucked the trend. Luckily for him, though, his period of rubbishness was very short-lived, and by the time it became apparent that he was rubbish, he wasn't rubbish any more.

I could, of course, point to the fact that I (and many others) were extremely unenthused by those first few signings: Devaney, Stewart (about whom, if we're being polite, we'll say there's a hung jury), Griffiths, Junior and our man Sietes. I could feel quite smug about it. Until, that is, someone points out to me that I was similarly unmoved by the captures of King and Henderson.

Sietes, then. Jose Manuel Suarez Rivas. A left-back, used to play for Valencia - played in the UEFA Cup, apparently. I would probably have been excited by it, were it not for the harsh lessons of the not-too-distant past; a heightened cynicism towards European imports with impressive CVs is something I have to thank Patrick Blondeau for, I suppose. But I don't think anyone could have predicted how this one was going to pan out.

I saw Sietes play just once, in Alec Chamberlain's testimonial against Charlton in July. He appeared as a substitute, and didn't take long to show that he was quite noticeably off the pace. "What the bloody hell have I done?" Adrian Boothroyd possibly mused, as Sietes stumbled around, looking reasonable in attacking positions, but not much cop anywhere else.

Sietes didn't start the season's opener against Preston. Indeed, as the weeks went by, he became something of a standing joke, his very existence coming under scrutiny. I mean, I think I saw him against Charlton. At the Sheffield United home game in September, I asked an insider what the story was with the Spaniard. "He's injured," came the rather awkward response. Neither the official website, nor the Watford Observer, usually not slow to report such matters, offered any evidence to support this.

As one-by-one Watford offloaded most of their early signings, it seemed likely that Sietes would go the same way. It's not as if the left-back position was sewn up, either; James Chambers, a very good defender with helpful attacking qualities, is hopelessly right-footed, and Jordan Stewart seems a bit weak on the defending part of being a defender. But so it has proved, with the announcement of Sr. Rivas' departure. "Sometimes in football things don't work out," commented Aidy. I wonder when he realised.

Sietes did play again for Watford, albeit the reserves; the highlight of his six games was probably not being substituted at half time in the 8-1 defeat at Ipswich. With a full ninety minutes in a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal, one of the more memorable Watford non-careers came to an end.

I wonder if Creteil are looking for a left-back…

Mike Smart