Date:Friday December 23 2011
Cardiff City travel to Malky Mackay's former club Watford for the Boxing Day clash. We spoke to Vital Watford editor Tom to get his views on the game:
What do you expect from Watford this season?
I've said from day one that survival had to be the minimum expectation. It's not glamorous and it certainly won't be exciting for the right reasons, but for a club this size the bottom line has to be staying in the Championship for financial reasons. Although the club is better off under Laurence Bassini at a glance, going down would not good for the club.
Some fans are not realists though, and the fact we flirted (briefly), with the Play-Offs before finish comfortably in mid-table last season has skewed a few fans views to the point that Sean Dyche was being given grief at the beginning of the season for our disappointing league position. I'd take 18th right now as it guarantees another season at this level. If we can play some nice, attractive, exciting football and the same time and claim a few scalps; all the better.
Thoughts on Malky Mackay vs Sean Dyche?
I think that coming into the job having been No.2 they were at a similar level. Dyche however has had the added benefit of some money to work with, something Malky Mackay never really had. However both saw key players leave. That said on a whole, Mackay made better signings, though a lot of those were only on loan due to financial restrictions.
I still believe that Dyche displays some of Mackay's traits - an unwillingness to make substitutes being one, but Dyche is very happy to drop a player if they are not performing - something Mackay never managed. I think they both still have a lot to learn tactically, and Dyche has said that his style of football is 'mix and match', Mackay was always very pro-attractive football.
We can't find Don Cowie's best position - any thoughts?
Don Cowie is an odd one. An excellent player, good on the ball, excellent off it, works like an ox, but he is not your traditional winger. He is almost a defensive winger. He will carry the ball but not very far nor often, he will put balls into the box, but he gets more assists by passing infield than swinging in a cross. Owing to his work-rate and off-ball attributes he is the first line of the defence down the right hand side.
He never scored many goals for us, but already he's been well amongst them for you which suggests Mackay has given him more freedom, or that he's just playing with better players now.
How's your general form?
We've lost one in nine now which has a lot to do with the arrivals of Michael Kightly and Nyron Nosworthy on-loan. Kightly is far too good to be playing at this level and looks a cut above whilst Nosworthy has tightened up a defence that has badly missed Martin Taylor since his shoulder injury.
This is Watford though and it all feels very flimsy, as if it could fall apart at any time. The last two games have been draws, but we let ourselves down by conceding a 95th minute equaliser at home to Leeds and missing a penalty. At Blackpool we hung on despite seeing them create most the chances, a game we would have lost earlier in the season according to our former striker, Allan Smart.
In summary? As good as it's been all season.
Player to watch Saturday?
The aforementioned Kightly. Dangerous whenever he gets the ball, he's grabbed a couple of goals since arriving and is a real old-fashioned up-and-at-'em winger. His arrival has taken some of the pressure off of Mark Yeates on the opposing flank to create and with Prince Buaben in something of a poor vein of form as the central midfield playmaker Kightly is incredibly important.
Whether we can keep him beyond his January loan spell is the worry, but another five month loan would go down a treat.
If you could have one Cardiff City player on a free - who and why?
Don Cowie. It's an abberation that he was ever allowed to leave the club on a free transfer and he is very highly thought of here at Vicarage Road. A top player when he's on form, he's better than most when he's on an off-day anyway.
Prediction for the game?
I think it will be a very tough game, no doubt. Cardiff obviously lost on Saturday so they'll be looking to bounce back quickly so we will have to be alert. However the chance to get one over former managers and player will doubtless put an extra few percent on our players' performances. That said, I hope that we don't get caught up in the emotion of trying to get one over messrs Mackay and Cowie.
Date:Friday December 23 2011
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