After days of waiting for an international clearance document to arrive from Turkey, Kenny Miller finally signed for City yesterday and made his debut in the 1-1 draw at Yeovil. Also making his first appearance was striker Rudi Gestade who had scored the only goal in the win over Charlton in Spain when he appeared for us as a trialist – Gestade completed his Bosman free transfer move from Metz on Monday. Gestade has the honour of being the first pre-season trialist we have signed in ages (I don’t think we signed one under Dave Jones), but there might be another one this year because former Colchester, Birmingham, Derby and Hull striker cum winger Craig Fagan played for the first hour or so at Huish Park.
Fagan was released by Hull after an injury hit season which saw him make his first appearance of the campaign for the Tigers in their 2-0 defeat at Cardiff City Stadium in September. He featured in the next four matches, but that was it after injury struck before the season was two months old. As someone who has spent a fair bit of his career as a Premiership player, the twenty eight year old Fagan could be a useful addition to the squad, but there must be some doubt as to whether he is fully over his fitness problems which included a broken leg courtesy of Newcastle’s Danny Guthrie in 2008 as well as serious knee and back injuries sustained since then.
As for the game at Yeovil, well it certainly sounded like an improvement on the Celtic and Bournemouth matches in the first half as City dominated proceedings and took the lead after about a quarter of an hour when Peter Whittingham scored with a classy volley after being picked out by a quick thinking Don Cowie from a corner. However, there were tell tale signs that City were losing their grip on the game as the home side stepped up the pressure in the closing stages of the first half. This trend continued after the break and Max Ehmer scored a simple equaliser in the fifty second minute from an excellent Gavin Williams free kick. Although understandable in the circumstances, the wholesale changes made by Malky Mackay in the second half of our four matches so far has tended to disrupt any fluency we were showing and it seems last night was no exception as we ended up with an unbalanced team featuring four strikers (Earnie, Miller, Gestade and Joe Mason). Hardly surprisingly, we ended up hanging on to the draw somewhat as Tom Heaton was forced into a flurry of late saves.
The biggest single thing to strike me so far about our games is that, under a manager whose Watford sides scored a total of one hundred and thirty eight league goals in the last two seasons, we have scored just three in four matches (three of them being against lower division teams). With our top two strikers unavailable for most of the time, this isn’t a huge cause for concern, but it is noticeable how few chances we are creating. I watched twelve minutes of highlights from last night’s match on the official site earlier this morning and, apart from the goal, a good effort from Cowie which drew a fine save from the keeper and an effort just over by Whittingham, we didn’t really threaten. It was more of the same from what I saw of the Charlton and Bournemouth matches and it certainly was against Celtic when we barely had a shot after the twenty minute mark. To be fair, there was some good interplay in midfield and it would be unfair to expect so many new players to hit the ground running immediately, but the truth is that, on chances created so far, we’ve done quite well to score three!
One last thing, it seems another member of the Watford back room staff has joined us. Iain Moody, their Head of Operations has been reported as having moved to Cardiff – if you are wondering what a Head of Operations does, then this piece explains it.