In many ways, Matej Vydra’s last three years are the perfect embodiment of Watford’s term under Pozzo ownership: Excitement and disappointment, passion and apathy, promise and frustration. But ultimately, a happy ending.
If indeed this can be called an ending. Vydra penned his first permanent contract with the club this week, bringing to a close a run of three seasons in which he didn’t really know what was what from year to year.
And indeed the Czech forward confirmed that it wasn’t until promotion was secured that he knew he’d be a Hornet come August 2015.
But as a period of uncertainty comes to an end, a settled Vydra gets ready for his second crack at the Premier League.
He’s been there before of course. To call his spell at West Brom ‘ill-fated’ may be doing him a disservice, but it’s clear that Vydra failed to reproduce the performances with the Baggies which so nearly drove Watford into the Premier League in 2013.
Even during that Zolacoaster of a campaign, inconsistency blighted him. A blistering Christmas saw him net 10 goals in five league games, a spell which effectively won him Championship PFA Player of the Year alone, before a Spring drought led to raised eyebrows when his name repeatedly appeared on the team-sheet.
And after Steve Clarke took the gamble on him, circumstances at The Hawthorns hardly helped iron out Vydra’s biggest shortcoming.
In and out of the side, often used inappropriately as a lone striker, and suffering at the hands of the Midlander’s Head Coach turnover, he couldn’t work any of the same momentum into his game.
Three league goals in seven starts wasn’t bad yet hardly the season Vydra and his *ahem* ‘talkative’ agent had dreamt of.
But now there’s every reason to believe that he’s ready to put right those wrongs.
After a season in which, largely down to the bullish man-management skills of Slavisa Jokanovic, Vydra’s attributes as a team player have excelled, he looks perfectly set to grace the top flight.
His pace, skill and unnerving prowess in front of goal were never in doubt, but the all-round package blossomed as Jokanovic’s Hornets powered into the automatic promotion places.
The dash back into his own half to defend deep into injury time at Brighton, when Fernando Forestieri had given the ball away in a presentable position, was indicative of the way he’s progressed.
We’ve a player who, while understated, enjoys his teammates’ success, relishes playing hero and has added a maturity to his game which was previously missing.
A player who adapts to what is required of him, who had the mental strength and ability to both break into the team and take his chance after Odion Igahlo’s astonishing early 2015 run.
And as a forward who you’d hope would just get better as his service improves, some of the talent being linked with a switch to Vicarage Road, in combination with his telepathic pals Almen Abdi and Troy Deeney, means there’s every reason to believe that Vydra will slot in nicely at the highest level.
His five-year deal, alongside long-term contracts for several of his teammates, should signify the beginning of a period of stability at the club with the core of the promotion winning side committing their futures to Watford.
2015/16 is begging to be Matej Vydra’s year.