The Position Watford Needed to Invest in But Failed to Achieve

Watford
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Now 20 matches into the season, the Hornets are sitting in 19th with zero clean sheets. On New Year’s Day, they came within seconds of the elusive zero on the scoresheet for the opposition, but Davinson Sanchez had other ideas with his late winner. Watford have invested in their defensive ranks a considerable amount, but they left one position untouched, which might prove to be a hundred-million-pound mistake.

Watford Did Not Bring in New Number One

Watford Needed Goalkeeper Change But Did Not Act

Daniel Bachmann and Ben Foster have been competing for the starting job all season for the Hornets: this became the case towards the end of Watford’s push for promotion last campaign as well. And, considering the two goalkeepers conceded just 30 goals in 46 matches, one might expect that the men between the sticks would be more than good enough for the top flight. Unfortunately, Foster appears well past his prime, whereas Bachmann’s Championship success has not transferred over to the top flight.

According to FotMob, Bachmann’s expected goals against is 19.6. Yet, he has conceded 26 times, showing a significant underperformance by the Austrian. Foster over-performs his expected goals against of 14.6 by 0.6, signalling from a shot-stopping perspective, he has been around average. Nonetheless, he has been far from his best this season, being caught in questionable positions for many of the goals he conceded as well as letting in goals he should have done better on (such as Sean Longstaff’s goal at Vicarage Road). But, out of the two options, it is clear Foster has restored his reign as Hornets’ number one.

Overall, it is difficult to rely on either keeper. Perhaps Foster will not be the reason the Hornets lose matches, but he most likely will not be the reason they win either (whereas in 2018/19 and 2019/20, he was responsible for many of the Hornets’ points). Even though only so much can be expected of a keeper, the Hornets are still going to regret not bringing in an over-performing, more-reliable number one.

Hornets Signed Goalkeeper But Loaned Him Back Out

It is not as if the Hornets do not have a look at a number one for the future: they did, in fact, technically sign a new goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, before the transfer window opened, but he was immediately loaned back to Sparta Rotterdam.

The Hornets knew that, in the long term, they were not planning on relying on Foster or Bachmann. Still, considering the goalkeeping situation at Vicarage Road, Okoye could have been the change between the sticks the Hornets needed. They at least could have given him a chance to train in January to see how he would rank in the depth chart.

Defensive Reinforcements Arrived, But Not All Questions Answered

The Hornets signed left-back Hassane Kamara and centre-back Samir to sure up the backline. In the new-signings’ first two matches against relegation-rivals Newcastle United and Norwich City, Watford conceded four times. Even though the two defenders appear to be upgrades on their previous options, it is clear there are still deficiencies in the backline.

A new goalkeeper, such as a reported potential loan move for Manchester United’s Dean Henderson which broke down (per Samuel Hurst), would have been ideal to give the defensive unit the sufficient surge in quality they needed. Now, they will have to rely on the tactics of new-manager Roy Hodgson to provide the necessary defensive adjustments, as manpower alone will not be enough.

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