Date: 28th February 2012 at 11:50am
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The two editors of Vital Burnley and Vital Watford have got together to exchange views on our clash at Vicarage Road this Saturday.

Here are Vital Watford editor, Tom Bordell’s responses to our questions:

What were Watford fans realistic hopes for this season? Have you done better or worse than predicted so far?

A lot of fans seemed to think that because we had done well under Malky Mackay last season, especially in the first half of the campaign, that we should have been doing better at the beginning of the season. As a realist I realized the loss of Don Cowie, Danny Graham & Malky Mackay was not going to help our situation so as long as we stayed up I would have been happy. However we did start slowly under Sean Dyche and almost immediately there seemed to be discontent amongst a large group of fans.

However, Dyche has been able to bring in his own players & everything is now bedding now. Four defeats in our last 16 (with a lot of draws thrown in), suggests we were moving in the right direction. All in all, I’d say we’re on course for what I’d hope.

What are your key weaknesses that the Clarets could exploit? What are your areas of strength we need to watch out for?

It’s not a settled back five at the moment and that is certainly a weakness. Tomasz Kuszczak has arrived on loan from Manchester United and made an error on his debut and with Lee Hodson injured, we had to re-shuffle on Saturday against Southampton. That wasn’t the sole reason for a heavy defeat, but it had been a very settled back five until then and we had looked a lot more defensively solid than in recent years.

In terms of strengths, we’ve got a really workmanlike and reliable spine. Adrian Mariappa has been excellent again this season, alongside him Nyron Nosworthy has slipped in recent weeks but was excellent until recently. John Eustace & Jonathan Hogg are rarely below eight out of 10. They have been tweaked since the beginning of the season and now have a real understanding of how to best compliment one another; Hogg sits and Eustace goes and it works excellently. Up top you’ve got Troy Deeney who has really won me over this season. He works his socks off every week and although he will never get 20 goals a season he has improved his tally this season but he does bring so much more to the side than just goals.

If those five are on form, we’re well set.

We have to ask! Chris Iwelumo. The fans view?

The biggest bone of contention at the football club right now! I was quite pleased when we signed him, he always seemed a nuisance and rarely failed to score against us. However, all I read and heard was delighted Clarets fans pleased to see the back of him!

He arrived & got injured almost instantly. That set him back massively and as one of only three senior forwards at the club he was thrust in without being match fit according to Dyche. That meant he was poor and the fans quickly got on his back; unfortunately that initial showing his stuck with fans who are never likely to give him a chance based on a combination of that and his style. Big, hulking, gangly forwards are never popular and Iwelumo is no exception.

Watford`s key player and why?

The aforementioned John Eustace has been the beating heart of the side this season. When he plays well he lifts those around them and in terms of his new more attack-minded role this season, he has impressed massively. Eustace is the very definition of a captain and after Kuszczak’s error on Saturday he was straight over there to cajole him.

Which player would you willingly offload to Burnley and pay for his taxi-fare up North? Why?

Chris Iwelumo! I want it to work out for him, but it really isn’t. We don’t go long and we don’t get masses of crosses into the box for him to feed off of so I cannot see it happening at Vicarage Road sadly. I think a few fans would want me to mention Craig Forsyth, Carl Dickinson or Mark Yeates but I think that’s harsh on players who were fine until we took a couple of beatings.

The fans view of manager,Sean Dyche?

He’s not Mackay and therefore he is always going to divide opinion. He has made some bizarre decisions – dropping goalkeeper Scott Loach for two games then bringing him back in after Rene Gilmartin did fine. Playing an unfit Iwelumo for a few weeks when a fully-fit Deeney was on the bench and chomping at the bit. His revolving door policy with players and in particular strikers. His refusal to use our talented youngsters is the one which grates most.

However, all that said he now appears to have a fairly settled core group of players who were until recently playing quite well. His ‘kid in a sweet shop’ mentality to player additions seems to hinder rather than help him. However, the results are there and we look quite comfortable right now. He’s certainly got my backing and as a unit of players and management they are learning and gelling together. As long as we stay up this season he will be well-received largely. Next season brings more expectation and pressure though I would expect.

Where will you finish?

In the comfortable yet slightly boring mid-to-lower table positions, and I’ll be very pleased with that.

Match prediction?

Burnley have been doing well on and off but are certainly a decent side. I’d say 2-1 Watford though.

Did Mac leave his Bar or was he just an Oddfellow?

Haha! Having never been an away fan I couldn’t tell you that – perhaps you should ask the bar staff on Saturday!

Editor’s Note: For those not in the know, Mac’s Bar for many a season was the only place to be for visiting fans! It still is but has changed its name to ‘Oddfellows’. Perhaps some kind Clarets fan could go into the bar and ask the question above before reporting back? 😉

Many thanks to Tom for answering our questions. Visit Vital Watford for my response to his questions by clicking this link:

Opposing View – Burnley

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