I exchanged some questions and thoughts with Tom Bodell of VitalWatford over Matthew Briggs, his side’s latest acquisition and our side’s latest departure, who joins the Hornets on loan.
Tom Bodell on Watford (and what to expect):
I think first & foremost it’s worth pointing out that he has probably been recruited to play at centre-half, which, after watching the Lukaku goal [scored on New Years Day] on YouTube, terrifies me!
Gianfranco Zola made some comments yesterday to the Watford Observer which sort of intimated he’d play at centre-half because presently Fitz Hall, Tommie Hoban and Neuton Sergio Piccoli are all injured. That still leaves us with three centre-backs – Nyron Nosworthy, Lloyd Doyley & Joel Ekstrand – all of which are playing superbly.
To that end, I suspect he could end up at left wing-back at some point because Daniel Pudil has been out recently and is the only left-sider on the books. Ikechi Anya has filled in very well, but he’s a winger being moulded to play wing-back really.
Trotta was extremely unlucky, he played one game, we were rubbish and then we hit form. Briggs should definitely get more football than that, especially as Zola likes to rotate.
We’re all about passing football these days and quite often (especially away from home), we will happily sit back, soak up the pressure and then break with devastating consequences. His pace & willingness to get forward means he could be a real asset at wing-back. This is definitely the right environment for a youngster to make an impact. In spite of what the media would have you believe, the Pozzo family are big on young players and have handed long-term deals to four players (I think), all of whom are home grown. The likes of Hoban, Connor Smith and Jonathan Bond (who could be in goal tonight if Manuel Almunia hasn’t recovered) have all impressed.
His athleticism and keenness to get forward are the things you’ll notice immediately about him. He’s pretty quick and loves getting in to advanced positions, and his crossing is pretty good too. His tackling is also impressive. Fulham defender Aaron Hughes was interviewed and namechecked Briggs as one of the outstanding young players, so there’s no doubting he has something about him. He is very slow at turning, falls for feints far too easily (which compounds the previous issue) and can sometimes lose concentration, finding himself out of position. Have a look at West Brom’s goal scored by Romelu Lukaku on New Year`s Day to see what I mean. Think of a left-sided Micah Richards (the physical attributes are there to but too much of a liability with positioning).
In fact, I’m excited to see how he’ll do out at Watford as a wing back. His defensive responsibilities will be less intense, and he should have the freedom to get forward. You’ll see that as he picks up the ball he can drive with it with real authority. Some argue that he should be a left midfielder, rather than left back, in the same way Bale has been converted and you can see why. I imagine that he’ll shine as a wing back, and I hope that Watford has the same effect on him as Kacaniklic, who has become quite some player)!