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[Archived] Rovers vs Watford - Tuesday 1 October - Kick-off 19:45

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The Tuesday night game this week sees Watford visit Ewood Park. Last years’ losing playoff finalists will surely prove a tough test so it should be a good battle given our recent upturn in form. Apologies for the late preview, I’ve been a bit preoccupied recently.



Formed in 1881 when a group of teenage sons of local property-owning families form the club as Watford Rovers.

They first entered the FA Cup in 1886 and joined the Southern League a decade later, winning it in 1914/5. They joined the Football League in 1920, and hovered around the third and fourth divisions until getting promoted to the second division in 1969 under player-manager Ken Furphy. Furphy would eventually leave in 1971 due to a lack of funds to become our manager. They also reached the 1970 FA Cup semi-final for the first time, beating first division teams Liverpool and Stoke along the way but were beaten 5-1 by eventual winners Chelsea (We were knocked out in the third round after losing 4-0 at home to Swindon).

Financial issues caused them to sell more key players and by 1975 they were back in the fourth division. However, 1976 saw pop-star and life-long supporter Elton John become chairman, stating his intention to take the team into the first division. He hired Graham Taylor who oversaw Watford’s meteoric rise through the leagues, being promoted to the first division for the first time in 1982.

After winning four of their first five games, they sat first in the table, eventually finishing second behind Liverpool, an incredible achievement and one that meant they would compete in the UEFA Cup the next season. They were knocked out at the third round by Sparta Prague after previously overcoming Kaiserslautern and Levski Sofia. After being relegated in 1988, they hovered around the second and third tiers before spending a season in the Premier League in 1999/2000 and again in 2006/7, reaching another FA Cup semi-final in that season.



Giampaolo Pozzo and family bought the club in June 2012, already owning Italian club Udinese and Spanish side Granada. Granada were in the third tier three years ago when they were taken over, and returned to La Liga in 2011 after a 35 year absence. Udinese have finished as high as 3rd in Serie A, qualifying for Europe several times and Pozzo was voted best president of Seria A in 2008. Both Granada and Watford have benefited greatly from this arrangement due to several promising young players being loaned out between the teams. A new law has prevented this being allowed in the Championship this season, however Watford have just signed some of them permanently.


Gianfranco Zola was appointed as manager in the summer of 2012, following current Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s surprising departure. However, the decision arguably proved justified as Zola led them to third in the table, two points behind Hull, scoring a league-high 85 goals along the way. A dramatic injury-time winner against Leicester in the semi-final set up a final appearance against Palace although a Kevin Phillips penalty saw Holloway’s men promoted instead. Despite losing Championship Player of the Year Matej Vydra, Zola’s men will certainly be in the mix come the end of the season, adding a usual stand-out Championship midfielder, Lewis McGugan from Forest, and bringing back many of the decent players that came from Udinese and Granada.



Overall – Played 32, Won 12, Drew 10, Lost 10, Scored 48, Conceded 38.

At Ewood – Played 16, Won 7, Drew 5, Lost 4, Scored 27, Conceded 16.

Last season, we won 1-0 at home, a Jordan Rhodes injury time winner after Kazim-Richards had earlier missed a penalty. Although we were spanked 4-0 at Vicarage Road with Leon Best eventually being sent off.


Rovers – 11th in the table, winning three, drawing three and losing three. However, we’ve only lost one of our last six.

Watford – Currently 4th in the table, two points off 2nd, after winning five of their opening nine fixtures and losing once. They’ve also won their last three.

Danger Man

Ikechi Anya -

Right-footed, but plays as a left wing back; pacy, can beat a man, good crosser of the ball and is a goal threat as well. Born in Glasgow to a Nigerian research scientist and a Russian economist, Anya hovered around the lower leagues in England before joining Glenn Hoddle’s academy in Spain. He signed for Granada in 2011, being loaned out to Watford last year and permanently signing for them this summer.

His impressive performances domestically saw him being called up to the Scotland squad, and a man of the match performance on his first start away in Macedonia also saw him score his first international goal.

I could have gone with other players but I chose Anya due to him and Kane being a key battle, due to the youngsters occasional defensive frailties. Whoever lines up on the right wing for us is going to have to stick to his defensive duties well to nullify Anya’s threat.

Players to have played for both clubs



Lee Williamson played for them between 2007 and 2009. We also signed Lee Richardson from them in 1990. That’s all I could find, maybe some older members can name some more.


Centre-forward Ross Jenkins made appearances for the club when they were in both the 1st and 92nd positions in the Football League.

The only two players to have won Full England caps while on Watford’s books (John Barnes & Luther Blissett) were born in Jamaica, and the only five to have represented Jamaica (Lloyd Doyley, Micah Hyde, Marlon King, Adrian Mariappa & Nyron Nosworthy) were born in England.

Famous Fans

Include Elton John, Vinnie Jones, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Aniston and Geri Halliwell.


Not sure. Do we change a winning team? We might have to due to Watford playing three in centre midfield. We’ll see what Bowyer does because it's not a decision I would want to make.

Opponent's view






1 - How is your season going so far? Do you feel you're on course to challenge for automatic promotion, or possibly through the playoffs again?

Its a tricky league this year but I'd be shocked if we don't get at least a top 6 spot.

Automatics are definitely still on for us right now. It's very fair to say that the team has been struggling to adapt to playing without Vydra's threatening pace, but recent results and performances may indicate that's almost addressed. Despite losing a quality player in Vydra (who I believe we miss), our squad this season is without a doubt better than last year's squad.

Just a few teething problems. Namely some lapses in concentration in defence have been costly. The midfield needs to retain the ball better at times. Otherwise it is building nicely.

The season so far is going reasonably well and rather comfortable. We have only lost one game and in that game we missed a penalty and hit the post several times. I really do believe we will challenge for the automatic spots this season and hopefully we can go one better than last year and get promoted.

Not too bad and the signs are that we have the potential for a challenge. My biggest concern is that our defense is too frail at the moment and the heads go down when we concede, if we can address this then we will be a very strong contenders for promotion but as we know this is the Championship and does not always go to form. Like other s I would be disappointed if we don’t make the top two come May but I acknowledge that we have no right to expect that and will not ‘walk the division’, as was being bandied about at the start of the season.

2 - What do you make of Zola and your owners?

I can't think of a single manager at any level in any league I'd take over Zola, the guy is an absolute legend. We have been extremely lucky to be bought by the Pozzo's, rich owners who (having run Udinese for 25 years) actually know an awful lot about how to run a football club successfully and sustainably. You can't say that about many other clubs.

Absolutely brilliant. To say we were lucky to be bought by the Pozzos would be the understatement of the century. Don't believe what you read in the media: the long term future of this club is now looking incredible. They're investing in the right ways, favouring sustainable business over risky gambles.

In the last week, work on rebuilding our derelict East Stand has just been approved after years of broken promises by former owners. The Pozzos said we'd get the stand when we averaged 15k or more every game, and they followed through on that promise.

Without the Pozzos, we would be in serious trouble right now (if we even still had a club).

Zola is a cracking gent. Seeing interviews with certain other managers really hits home how lucky we are to have him. The team's style is the best football more of us have ever seen Watford play (some older diehards will talk about the Taylor years in the Prem being equally as good if not better, YMMV). He's honest and doesn't shy away from the truth, and the man is a brilliant coach. The improvements made by some of our squad have been extraordinary.

Zola is loved by everyone. He is a gentleman and has the team playing some wonderful football. More than that he has improved players noticeably such as Deeney and Anya. He is learning as well and has a bright future in the game. Our owners are fantastic. They saved the club from a charlatan (Lawrence Bassini google him), paid off most of the debt, have given us access to some wonderful players.

Some looking in from the outside might have thought we have bussed in some mercenaries but when you see players celebrating with fans, in the town itself, at community events the togetherness and camaraderie is some of the best since the Graham Taylor era. Not only that Nani and Duxbury have things moving off the pitch with a new stand to be built during this season to cope with increasing attendances, and lucrative deals with several companies.

The difference between the Pozzo's and the Venky's could not be more starker as the former have prior experience of running clubs sustainably but with success to boot.

I couldn't be more happy with the current regime at the moment. I've fell in love with the owners and also the manager who you just can't help but like. We may recieve alot of critisicm due to the influx of foreign players brought in however these players have added real quality in the squad and it feels good knowing that the club is in safe hands.

Maybe I’m alone in this but after the excitement and then abject disappointment of the Viali era I was more than a little nervous when I heard that the Pozzos wanted Zola. Add to that the feeling that Sean Dyche was badly treated and initial reaction was that of caution. However Zola has been a revelation in my opinion and is doing a very good job. The football that I have seen over the last season and a bit has been some of the best the team has ever played particularly compared to the Viali/Wilkins time. It has already been said that the Pozzos saved the club from oblivion, and so far have been wonderful for the club. I will not mention the previous odious owner but suffice to say he was not the best thing that ever happened to Watford and we had a narrow escape!

3 - Which players should cause us the most problems on Tuesday?

Anya, Faraoni, Mcgugan, Abdi, Murray, Deeney, Forestieri, Fabrinni... all can be real threats.

We're currently blessed with an embarrassment of technical and attacking riches.

Defensively, Angella is a fantastic defender who is more than capable of scoring goals. Anya is a ridiculously pacy, hardworking wingback who can score, assist, and draw fouls. You will probably hate him by the end of the game if he plays.

Midfielder wise, our best midfielder, Abdi, is confirmed to be out. Of those likely to play, Lewis McGugan is in fine form at the moment, and is capable of scoring sublime free kicks and long range crackers. Sean Murray has been back to his best in recent games, and has a great all-round attacking game.

For attackers, Deeney has been a little off the boil compared to the end of last season, but at his best will drag your defense all over the place. He's strong and bullheaded, but has extremely good technique for a powerful English forward (brought on by Zola, no doubt), and can score from just about anywhere.

Fabbrini and Forestieri are very similar: second striker types who are incredibly good with the ball, dribble past entire teams for fun, win fouls in dangerous positions, and occasionally try to do far too much when the better ball would be the easy one. Either of these guys is devastating when on song, frustrating when they're not, but they're both magical players and can swing a game with moments of brilliance. Neither is a prolific scorer, they generally create space/chances for others, or force fouls/penalties. The goals they do score tend to be crackers though.

All of them. This is not a facetious remark. The midfield is technically adept at creating chances. Acuna and Deeney know how to find the net and the wingbacks like Anya and Faraoni and indeed Pudil have all scored this season. Angella and Belkalem pose real threats at corners with their aerial prowess.

Ikechi Anya due to his pace will destroy most full-backs this season so he in my opinion is our danger-man. We also have an absolute rock of a defender in Angella plus quality in the midfield with the likes of McGugan/Abdi. Then of course upfrontis the ever dangerous Troy Deeney who rarely misses the target these days.

Already been said plenty of times about Deeney, Anya, McGoogan, Fessi and Fabbrini but Anya has stood out for me since the playoff semi against Leicester. If he is on his game he can absolutely terrorize the average Championship defense.

4 - What do you make of our team/manager? Do you have us down as serious promotion candidates? Or just regard us as any number of teams who might sneak a playoff spot?

Sorry no, I have Blackburn down as needing some major surgery and several years rebuilding. Somewhere mid table this year, but your time will come around again.

I think Venky's have ruined your club, if I'm honest. Not beyond repair, but they strike me as completely clueless from the outside. I think Blackburn are likely to finish solid midtable this year, perhaps just outside the playoff places. I think the club is capable of far more, but the owners are useless.

As for the manager, I simply feel sorry for him for having to deal with Venky's.

It will take Bowyer some time to refashion Blackburn. Will he be given time though ? Shuffling managers is not a recipe for success. The academy still produces players as a positive.Your squad is full of dependable Championship level players with proven track records such as DJ Campbell. But the defence is slow and Rhodes is the one we all look at as a real threat. Rochina has not performed to his real potential either. The defence is not exactly the swiftest either. I would see Blackburn in midtable this season. Not in any danger but not with enough extra quality to make the top spots. Losing Robbo and Best doesn't help.

Ill be honest im relatively surprised as too how poor you ended up doing last season. At the start of the campaign you looked good and even beat us 1-0 at Ewood, then in the reverse fixture in April we dominated you and won the game 4-0. I still feel your club is in a state of transition and im guessing you're all hoping for a bit of stability at the moment. You won't go down this season nor up in my opinion, maybe a mid-table sort of season will do you guys good.

I know nothing at all about Gary Bowyer so it would not be fair to comment. Not wishing to be provocative but if you are as bad this time as you were when you played down here last season you will struggle, when I looked at your team last season I thought we might be in for a tough time but it just didn’t happen for you. Mid-table I think, but again I say this is the Championship and who knows? There is nothing to say that you might be the team that ‘comes up on the rails’ in the latter part of the season.

5 - What do you make of the situation regarding our owners, Steve Kean, Shebby Singh etc?

Your owners are typical rich idiots who buy clubs but don't have the faintest idea how to run them. Blackburn is the perfect argument for having stricter FL & FA rules in place when approving changes of ownership.

See above. I think Steve Kean was just the first victim of useless owners. I believe he's better than they gave him a chance to be. Shebby Singh just strikes me as an idiot.

It's a PR disaster. The owners do not seem to have any idea of what they were getting into. Shebby Singh is clearly unfit to be running the club as he has no prior experience in football management and is the Venky's man. Kean I felt was a little harshly treated and results have not exactly been a startling improvement since he was forced out. But fan power won out and in that respect you must be happy.

I always thought that Steve Kean should've been sacked when you was in the Premiership as things clearly weren't working out. However, in the championship last season you were around the top of the league with Kean in charge. But alot of your fans seemed unhappy about Kean still being at the helm, now i think that you guys took the championship a little lightly and thought with this squad we should be winning every match. Well as you soon found out after Kean left it wasn't quite like that, it ended up being a very dissapointing season for you guys. Now of course the owners are known for not exactly giving the gaffers much time, but they really need to keep hold of the manager you have now if you want to build on your squad and look for bouncing back into the Premier League.

I think the way the fans treated Kean was not good but was understandable. From what I saw of him he didn’t endear himself to the fans or the public and always came across as arrogant having said that he was subject to a lot of abuse! Shebby Singh, well nothing to say about him that can be printed. One of the key reasons for your slide out of the top flight.

6 - Prediction for the game?

Cant see past an away win. We tore Blackburn a new one at the Vic and this year the team is even stronger.

Either we'll hammer you something like 3-1, or you'll win 1-0. We tend to either take our chances and destroy teams, or miss/hit the post/run into God Keeper and then concede a sloppy goal late on. I believe we currently have a better squad than you, but we're also not completely comfortable with the post-Vydra tactical approach. On recent displays, you can probably expect to see one ineffective half from us, and one absolutely brilliant 45 minutes. If we're brilliant for 90, it'll be the first league game it happened in this year (although the signs are there that it is coming, in fairness!).

At this stage a trip to Ewood Park no longer holds any fears. But it will be a tough game and I expect it to be a one goal game. I think we will just edge it although given the number of recent fixtures we have had I expect several changes from the side at the weekend to face Wigan. Last season was an agonizing 1-0 loss deep in injury time after Manuel had saved a penalty as well.

0-0, We havent had a bore draw for a while. Its going to happen Tuesday i believe.

You've been up and down with your results. We’ve been up and down with ours, the one thing I think we can say is the match will likely have goals in it and could go either way (watch out for a nil-nil draw now).


3-0 Rovers – Rhodes x2, Anya OG.


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Very tough one obviously. It's one of those that if they turn up at their best and we are at our best they'd probably still beat us so i hope they perform like they did up here last season, hardworking but nowt great. The game down there they were a cut above but if we continue to work as hard from front to back for 90+ mins like others in this league then we can get something. A hard fought draw.

1 - 1 Leon Best

12,875 ( 400 Watford )

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Hmm, I can't make my mind up here. My heart's saying we're on a decent run and will win, my head's saying Watford are a good side and could very well batter us.

However, I'll look at things through my blue & white glasses and go for a 2-1 win with squeaky bum last 10 mins. Rhodes & Dann.

Think I'll order my pie now, it might be cool enough to eat at half-time!

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I think we'll win. Buoyed by the win against Bournemouth. Just hope Kean doesn't fancy talking a walk into town or Darwen

Nice analysis Salgado is a Hero.

Watford is a dangerous club, they've scored 20 goals this season so far.

The only thing missing I've noted is Watford really hammered Bournemouth.

5 goals in the second half alone after being drawn at half-time. Watford over Barnsley 5-1 weeks ago.


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  • Backroom

Tough game and a tough one to predict

At times this season we have looked like we can beat any team but so far have only shown that against poor teams

To have realistic promotion aims you have to be winning your home games but a draw wouldn't be terrible

Watch out for McGuigan he's the one player I wanted us to go for in summer

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Sad state of affairs when Watford are one of the teams we should be scared of. Nothing against them, just another reminder about how far we've fallen. I've read the review and I still can't really name more than one or two Watford players. Take a draw as they're meant to be a decent footballing side (so I've read). Like to see Best and Rhodes start again.

ALMUNIA. 3 Watford players I've heard of. Get in.

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Lets have their right full back in our half, then its all systems go with Josh King marauding down that flank as the centre half comes across thus creating further space for someone to exploit for footballing gain.

Watford should be fearing Rovers tomorrow so i'll settle for a four nil drubbing to the blue and whites.

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  • Backroom

Agreed JAL its amazing how effective a dink down the left channel is with King there

More often than not he will beat the full back and he'll either get brought down or have a chance to get a ball in

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The arrogance to them answers is unbelievable IMO

Indeed. I had no idea that Championship fans carried such a chip on their shoulder.

Ignorant too regarding Kean. One of them saying Shebby Singh played a large part in our relegation. He wasn't even here at that point, duh!

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For me watford is half an hour away, ewood is 3 and a half hours away, so after witnessing last season's drubbing at vicarage road i am a bit concerned that it will be a long journey for a repeat.

But there is hope - king and best weren't fit last time. We didn't have cairney, evans or spurr who are now 3 of our best.

As long as we let them know they have been in a match this time i will drive home happy

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Lets have their right full back in our half, then its all systems go with Josh King marauding down that flank as the centre half comes across thus creating further space for someone to exploit for footballing gain.

Watford should be fearing Rovers tomorrow so i'll settle for a four nil drubbing to the blue and whites.

I'd agree about the full back point, raw pace is about the most frightening thing a full back can play. Look at the Burnley game Trippier is one of the leagues best full backs at pushing on and swinging balls into the box, in the 1st half King absolutely anihilated him for pace with a 10 yard start, he didn't push on again.

Will be a very very tough game tonight, whether it pains people or not Watford have a very good team, probably better than us. I just fancy us tonight for some reason, very good win last week and the major disappointment shown by players after a draw with Huddersfield shows to me we are starting to get the right mentality.

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For me watford is half an hour away, ewood is 3 and a half hours away, so after witnessing last season's drubbing at vicarage road i am a bit concerned that it will be a long journey for a repeat.

But there is hope - king and best weren't fit last time. We didn't have cairney, evans or spurr who are now 3 of our best.

As long as we let them know they have been in a match this time i will drive home happy

Where abouts are you? I'm in rickmansworth, herts so only 15 mins from watford

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looking very forward to the game tonight and hoping for a very good performance and a win.

Watford can be got at down the wings for me with us pushing our full back on and overlapping our wide players which I think will be Cairney and King.

I just hope that we don't get over run in centre midfielder with us just playing 2 in there and Watford playing 3 in there.

I fully expect the same team as Saturday

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