Now coaching at Chelsea, he spoke to Watford in 2010 while at Notts County.
I was out of contract at the end of the season, I went all summer talking to clubs and a lot of people were asking me to go and join them but nothing ever materialised from any of the calls. All of a sudden it got to the stage where pre season had started and I didn’t have a club which was a bit of a shock to be honest. I went from having a few half offers to having nothing. But then Boothroyd offered me a trial which I must have done well in as he offered me a two year deal.
What other clubs were interested?
Leeds had shown the strongest interest all through the summer. Burnley had also offered me a new deal to stay on but they had left it so late in the summer I didn’t want to take their offer. Jonny had just been born and they knew I wanted to get things sorted soon so I didn’t like it when they left it so late. Obviously everything turned out well in the end by signing for Watford but it did give me about six weeks of uncertainty.
Was it much of an upheaval bringing your family down to the Watford area from the North West?
For me it wasn’t but for my wife it was! Jonny at the time was only three months old so it was quite difficult in that respect but we settled down quickly and really enjoyed our time down there. We lived in St Albans which was close to the training ground. Once we were in everything was fine.
Are there any games that stand out for you as favourites during your time at Watford?
Probably my league debut against Crystal Palace which we drew. I still feel a bit aggrieved with it though because I scored a perfectly good goal which was disallowed and that would have made it a perfect debut for me but I still enjoyed the game overall. There are numerous games I enjoyed though, most notably the ones I scored in. You always enjoy games where you score, especially as I didn’t score many. But if you were to pin me down to one I would say the Palace game.
Were there any players you were mates with whilst at the club?
I got on with all the players, but in the second year I got pretty close with John Eustace and I hope that our friendship will continue even though I have left the club. With Eusty comes Sadler – they are like a gruesome twosome! We got on well and went away for a couple of days over the summer to Ibiza, which was fun! It was us three players and all our respective mates on a bit of a lad’s tour without our families.
We won’t ask any more questions, what goes on tour and all that!
Ha ha, there is nothing to tell – honestly!
How would you summarise your time at Watford?
I loved it but I do wish I had got to play a bit more. Every player wants to play every game. I was playing a lot of games but if you look at the minutes I got it wasn’t many – three here and four there. It was very frustrating. It was nice to get on but I wanted to be starting games and I wasn’t getting that.
How do you rate Malky as a manager?
I rate him highly. He had a tough year last year and had a small budget to work with but he got on with it and done well I think. He kept the team up last year which was important. I don’t know what the aim is for this season but I hope they do well and I think that they can do. With the financial situation there it is going to be tough though. However whenever I leave a club they always seem to get promoted the season after so you never know! It happened at West Ham, Sheffield United and then Burnley – so everything bodes well for Watford to get promoted! You should go and put a few quid on it!
know he wasn’t there long but what was Brendan Rogers like to work under?
It was strange under him. For me personally, he came in and made a beeline for me and began telling me where he wanted to play me and how he wanted us to play. I felt I was playing well at the time when he dropped me and that was me out of the team for good under him. I was frustrated if I am being honest. His training was second to none and he was a fantastic coach, but as a manager – well he is still young I suppose. He could do well but as a manager I am not convinced. But with his background, as he will let you know he has had a good upbringing under Jose Mourinho, he knows how he wants to play football and he is set in his ways but it remains to be seen if he can be successful with it.
Does he know Mourinho then?!
Has he never dropped that one in, no?! I would have thought he might have mentioned it…
He did mention it once or twice! If Watford had offered you a new deal would you have stayed or were you set on getting back to the North West?
Club wise I only got as far as Nottingham! If there had been an offer from Watford of course I would have considered it but I had already let Malky know that I was ideally looking to get back up north. My kids are beginning school now so I want to get them settled and I also don’t want to be away from them. Obviously I will be for a bit with me signing for Notts County but it won’t be quite as bad as it would have been if I had stayed in the London area. I’m intending to get home as much as possible as I don’t like being away from them.
Were there other clubs interested or was it just Notts County?
It was similar to when I signed for Watford. There were clubs making the right noises but in fairness to Notts County they were the ones who made me feel most wanted and welcome than anyone else and they put their offer on the table for me. I know the assistant manager from my time at Burnley and I played with the manager when I was at Sheffield United. I know the club had a strange year last year but it is a club with ambition and they seem a lot more stable now and looking to move forward which helped when making my decision. If I am honest I didn’t come here to play in league one and the club don’t seem content with league one either, so the ambition this season is to get out ofthis league and get into the Championship.
You seemed to get on well with the Watford fans during your time at the Vic.
Yes I did and that is something I am always grateful for. They seemed to like me and I certainly liked them. Hopefully one day I will get the chance to play against Watford at the Vic and I will still get a good reception from the fans. I think it helped that when I did play I ran around like a headless chicken and flew into a few tackles! I think fans like to see players giving maximum effort and I would like to think that is how I come across when I play. So yes I did have a good relationship with them which was nice and I thank them for that.
We see that you’ll be returning to face us in the Carling Cup….
Yes I never realised I’d return so soon! It’ll be a good test as Watford have started well. It’ll be nice to see you all.
Well best of luck on Tuesday, although not too much!
Ha ha – cheers boys.
Quick Fire Round
|Favourite Ground (apart from the Vic)|
|Best Ever Player|
|Team you supported as a boy|
|Favourite Holiday Destination|
|Favourite TV Show|
|Only Fools and Horses|
|Desert Island Woman|