Friday, 4 April 2014

Boring, Boring Beppe?

We’re all aware of the personal significance to Troy Deeney’s when he second his goal against Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday. However, it also hit a threshold for Beppe Sannino. That’s now 30 goals in his 18 Championship games at Watford, which matches the 30 goals that Watford scored in the division under Zola’s reign this season. That number was achieved in 20 games overseen by Gianfranco. Only a couple of games more, but more nonetheless.

Quite surprising then for someone labelled boring and negative by some. So why, if we have become more productive in front of goal, does he still give this impression of playing less entertaining football than his predecessor?

The first thing Beppe did was to try and shore up the defence. Goals were harder to come by at the start of his reign as he focussed on the issues at the other end of the pitch. Comparing the same period of games for the two Italians, Beppe’s side is conceding a third of a goal less per game than Zola’s. Is it more exciting to have a fear that we might concede in an end to end humdinger, than watch a standard home 2-0 victory?

Not us, but the shambolic excuses of football teams that we’ve faced recently. How many goals would Zola’s side have dispatched past Blackpool and Barnsley in recent weeks? Well, let’s not forget Zola’s 30 goals included 6 against a naïve Bournemouth, who have now matured to a decent Championship side, and 5 against the perennially slow starters Barnsley.

So I could have compared Beppe’s side to last season’s Watford under Zola. No contest. No-one in the Football League was that good. But then Zola had different players then. Beppe started with the same squad that Gianfranco finished up with and this is a much fairer comparison.

Let me just clarify, I’m not saying that Beppe is a long ball man. Not at all. But you get the analogy right? Remember how annoying it was that the likes of Clough and press-men like Jeff Powell (the Daily Mail hated us then too) slagged us off for playing the long ball game in the Eighties, despite (or more likely because of) the success it brought. So why should we look a gift horse in the mouth? Shouldn’t a more successful, if patient, style of play be preferred over a more cavalier, yet inconsistent approach? 

This isn’t intended to be a first term school report on Sannino. Nor is it a stick to beat Zola with. If I’m honest, I’d have liked to have seen him tough it out and try and turn it around. But that’s more of my thoughts on the “change it, change it!!” mentality in modern football as soon as things start to dip, rather than my opinion of our previous manager. No, it’s just one of those occasions when the statistics don’t necessarily agree with the perception. Interesting?

-- Jason

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