Watford Eye View
Your lads must be getting nosebleeds being that far up the table. Are you as shocked as we are that you look like making the play-offs?
Well we haven’t been this high in the Second Tier of English Football for a sustained period for 25 years! If, at the start of the season, someone had said that with five games to go we would be in with a shout of coming second in the league then any Watford fan would have bitten their hand off. I thought, at the start of the season, we would have a chance of making the play-offs due to Aidy’s summer signings and his positive thinking and they way it rubbed off on his players from day one. Ray Lewington’s side were excellent in cup competitions – two semi-finals in two years- but our league form was very average. The board never gave Lewington the same financial backing as they have done with Aidy, but I feel that even if they did we would not be far off a relegation dogfight.
What are your thoughts on Adrian Boothroyd?
We’re over the moon with Aidy. He took over a team from Ray Lewington that was mediocre, stagnating and staring relegation to the Third Division in the face and transformed it into a team full of young, hungry players that play an attacking brand of football. Aidy has made some fantastic signings in the shape of Ben Foster, Clarke Carlisle, Malky Mackay, Matthew Spring, Darius Henderson and Marlon King, and cleared out all of the deadwood – a total of ten players - that was prevalent under the Lewington regime. Aidy is only 35 and is arguably one of the most talented young English managers in the game; thankfully he has signed a contract extension until 2010.
When Aidy signed his contract extension Watford chairman Graham Simpson said: “Adrian has proved himself to be some one who combines exceptional man management skills with the very best in pure football coaching qualities. “In a short space of time he has taken this club by the scruff of the neck and given us new purpose, vigour and far greater self-belief. “As a result, Adrian has become highly respected by everyone with Watford and the wider footballing public – particularly our fans.”
What's the deal with your new financiers?
Tory peer Lord Ashcroft is set to become the majority shareholder in Watford Leisure PLC when the share issue has been completed. I understand that the 2.4 million that he is putting into the club is to service - and hopefully clear - off our debt. Apparently he will not be interfering with the day-to-day running of the club as that will be left to Chairman Graham Simpson (who has invested a lot of his personal fortune in the club). It’s always questionable when someone who has never been associated with a club before suddenly comes in and puts money into it but thankfully Ashcroft has no history of asset stripping.
What did you make of the match on January 2nd?
I thought that the match in January was a typical local derby; not unattractive, passionate and intense. I believe that Watford were the better side on the day and clearly deserved to win. The two early goals took the sting out of Luton and they did not start playing until the second-half. Ashley Young’s sending off for retaliation was possibly just but I though that Nicholls should have also seen red for the way he jumped on, and pushed over Young. The tactics in the second half, to keep the ball and slow things down, are nothing unusual when protecting a lead in football. I didn’t think it was that bad at the time – certainly not cheating- and still do not think so having watched the game on DVD. I was disappointed with Mike Newell trying to deflect the reasons for defeat on Watford’s tactics rather than looking at his own.
Why do you think there is so much animosity between the two clubs?
Good Question. I think that the animosity has increased in recent years because the two teams don’t play each other as often as we used to – due to us being in a higher division than Luton for the past eight years – therefore everyone connected with both clubs looks forward to the game more than they did before. However, according to the Watford Centenary book the rivalry dates back to 1885.
What's your favourite Luton/Watford game?
My favourite local derby has to be the one that took place on 4 October 1997 at Kenilworth Road. The scoreline was one that any Watford fans could have only dreamed about beforehand, let alone being 4-0 up after thirty minutes, but Sir Graham Taylor is a weaver of Watford dreams. However, It was a shame that we did not add any goals to our tally in the second half but it is rumoured that Bedfordshire Police went into the Watford changing room at half time and asked the players to stop scoring! It’s a pity it took ten years but definitely worth the wait.
And your worst?
The worst was the Worthington Cup game that took place at Vicarage Road in 2002. Watford were clueless that night and Luton, guided by Watford-born Joe Kinnear, certainly deserved to win. Before the game manager Ray Lewington said that he’d rather concentrate on the league rather than the cup competitions – hardly a way to motivate your players before the all-important local derby. Joe Kinnear, on the other hand, reaffirmed to his players what the local derby meant to fans of both clubs and Luton looked like they wanted to win the match more. It was disappointing when Kinnear, born and bred in Watford, took over at Luton because he had been tipped to become a future Watford manager.
What are your hopes for Sunday's match?
Games between Watford and Luton are usually scrappy and I expect this one to be no different. We are somewhat out of form – losing two games in a row for the first time with Boothroyd in charge – but I expect that the players will be really for this one as anything less than a win will see our automatic promotion hopes ended. Although safe from relegation, Luton’s season is over but I think you will be hoping to derail our automatic promotion hopes and condemn us to the play-offs. However, derby matches usually end in a stalemate and if I was a betting man I would be putting money on the 1-1 draw.
Have a good day on Sunday