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Anthony McNamee
Position: Left winger
From: Watford FC Academy
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: In danger
Past profiles: April 2002


The emergence of Anthony McNamee at the end of the 2001/02 season was one of the few highlights of what was, frankly, a terrible season. The last of the many youngsters Luca Vialli blooded, he seemed the most talented. The others - Hand, Doyley, Fisken - were promising, but they could improve. But in our brief glimpses of "Macca", he could do no wrong. He was easily the fastest player on any pitch, a good crosser of the ball and had an eye for goal, as proved by a wonderful strike against Gillingham in the final game of the season. Yes, he was tiny and looked like he weighed about a stone - but as the defenders couldn't touch him, that wasn't a problem. "The next John Barnes" was the inevitable comparison. Most of us believed the hype.

One of the surprising factors of Macca's emergence was that he hadn't been given a start sooner. Indeed, it took five dazzling sub appearances before he was given his first start. This was answered early in the 2002/03 campaign when it was revealed that he had asthma, meaning he his stay on a pitch could only be a short one. Despite this problem, Macca was a regular sub during the season, coming on twenty-two times in all, the most notable appearance being against Walsall in early September. Replacing Stephen Glass, Macca entered a game which, despite the twenty-two players on the pitch, hadn't really started. In half an hour, he had virtually killed Darren Bazeley, got an assist and rejuvenated the whole team. A bore draw changed into a 2-0 win. Magic.

But could this glut of super-sub appearances maintain Anthony McNamee's membership of Watford's first team squad? Obviously not. Macca's appearances this past season have been limited to two, in late August. Since then he hasn't even got a sniff.

Why the sudden change? Well, his body build must have something to do with it. Asthma is unpreventable but football is physically demanding game and being 5'5" is not to Macca's benefit. Nor is his weight, barely over ten stone. This was probably the reason for Macca's loan spell at Barnet at the end of 2003, the classic "toughen them up in the lower leagues approach." But his loan only lasted the original month, in which time Macca made only four appearances - two as sub.

The emergence of Lee Cook hasn't helped. When you have a left winger regularly playing, you are unlikely to need another one in the first sixteen. But more worrying for Macca is Ashley Young being Cook's backup on the left. Young is actually right footed.

Macca's twenty-one next month, the make or break age for a young footballer. It seems that his size and asthma may have beaten him. His obvious talent seems to be no longer enough for him to get a place in Watford's side, or indeed in Barnet's. And with his performances in the reserves hardly setting the world alight, one can only imagine the future being very bleak for Anthony McNamee.

Bar a sudden growth spurt, of course....

Mike Peter
Last updated: June 2004