There are clearly issues at Vicarage Road right now – issues that caused Lloyd Dyer to celebrate his goal at Rotherham on Tuesday in furious fashion and subsequently find himself dropped from the following match-day squad, issues that caused Lewis McGugan to be left out of two consecutive squads and issues that have forced journalists close to the club to confirm that others of Dyer and McGugan’s team-mates are discontented and that Beppe Sannino’s future is ‘up in the air’.
These are issues, however, in which very few of your ‘typical’ supporter can claim knowledge of.
Indeed had Dyer not celebrated in such fashion on Tuesday night then it is unlikely that any fan would have been any the wiser.
At around 2:15 yesterday afternoon, when Dyer and McGugan’s exclusions were confirmed, Twitter and fans’ forums were alight with criticism for the Hornets’ Italian head coach who had apparently ‘clearly lost the dressing room’. These claims, while appearing to have some substance to them, are also shrouded in plenty of guesswork.
These behind-the-scenes problems almost certainly stem back to the end of last season when an argument between management and players resulted in a pitiful 1-4 reverse at home to Huddersfield Town.
It would follow, therefore, that they have been present while Watford performed impressively throughout pre-season, while they have, almost certainly down to the work of Sannino, become infinitely more formidable defensively. The squad has become fitter, stronger and most importantly, they have won four of their first five games of the 2014-15 season.
While I do understand that players play with professional pride and want to win the game for themselves, I question whether all of these positives would have been possible if the training ground conditions were that horrendous, that unbearable.
But I don’t really want to dwell on behind-the-scenes activity, as the point of this article is that no-one really knows what’s happening there. To put it simply, until more detail is available, how can it be used as ammunition to fuel a ‘Sannino Out’ campaign?
Unfortunately for Sannino, by virtue of being unheard off in this country when he took over, he developed a band of supporters that were on his back immediately, not prepared to give him anywhere near the breathing space and time that they would have afforded someone they’d heard of. Some had their minds made up from day one.
It is totally unfair to point to the capitulation at Nottingham Forest, to the away form and to the dreadful last three games of last season while ignoring the tactical master-class at Manchester City and the striking fact that Sannino’s team had broken a club record by winning six home games in a row without conceding, inside three months of his arrival.
It was clearly not all rosy, but Sannino had arrested the trajectory in which the team were sliding down – surely his remit when he took over.
Mission ‘Promotion’ has got off to an encouraging start.
Watford have swept away two mediocre sides at Vicarage Road while the primitive signs are that we have developed a ‘method’ of winning away from home – evidenced at both Stevenage and Rotherham.
For people to be calling for Sannino to be dismissed due to a squad selection is horribly unjust – I’d wager that those same folk were less sure three hours on.
But if, or as it seems inevitable, when, Sannino loses his job I trust that the Pozzos will have got it right. Their knowledge of football has proven itself to be strong and they will make sure that they have made themselves fully aware of all factors before they make the decision.
If Sannino goes, it will be because it’s been considered that our chances of promotion are harmed by sticking with him.
We as fans are not privy to those factors. How do we know that McGugan, Dyer and whoever else is not in the wrong? 14 players featured yesterday and seemingly carried out the manager’s instruction effectively. Two key first-team players were considered unable to do so and were therefore left out.
On the flip side, Sannino may really be that bad to deal with. Does his animation on the side-lines during 90 minutes on a Saturday perhaps turns into something rather more aggressive and nasty on a Monday morning?
Whatever the truth of the situation, the bare facts, the facts that are available to all of us, point to Sannino deserving of more support. He did the job required of him last season, and has begun this term in a similar vein.
He won’t lose his job because of on-the-pitch results – I doubt anyone claiming to have ‘not rated him from the start’ expected him to potentially lose his job in these circumstances. He will hardly have left us in the worst position moving forward, in terms of league position.
In conclusion, I feel that Sannino deserves all of our support until the true situation is made clear; the best thing for everyone is if that situation, whether manager or players at fault, is resolved quickly.