The dreaded "P" word

February, 9, 2008
I suppose I could blame it on writer's block, or maybe I just haven't found the time because I'm in the midst of a promotion battle. Either way, it's been a while since I last blogged. So here I am back to staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what to write about ... I think I'm getting writer's block again.

It seems like this season has taken forever. The Championship isn't the easiest league to play in. There's a game almost every four days and your body just hurts from all of the battles. The twilight of the Premiership is a distant memory, but one that burns bright enough to realize how much I want to get back there. So far it's been a roller coaster (as usual) of a season with the Watford boys getting off to a flying start and being nine points clear of second place after 13 games.

The more I play in this league, the more I realize how much consistency plays a part in promotion. If teams can manage to keep players healthy on the physical side and stay together mentally, it makes it so much easier to get through the season unscathed. Reading managed to do it two seasons ago and they pretty much had the league title by Christmas. I was hoping that would happen with us. However, after our great start we hit a rough patch.

Injuries started to affect the lineup (I wasn't immune either, pulling my calf and having to sit out four games), our loan player from Middlesbrough (Adam Johnson) got recalled, we started having sub-par performances at home, and we started to feel the pressure. It's a funny thing that "P" word. It seems to make balls bounce the wrong way and makes you feel like you have two left feet as you gently pass the ball to the other team. It also gives me heartburn. Winning is my Pepto Bismol though and all it takes is one good win and that monkey seems to get off your back and up the tree where he belongs.

We've had a few of those wins the past few weeks and the ship is back on course. We've managed to bring in a few good signings (such as Collins John) during the January transfer window and those players are going to be key to whether we get another crack at the Premiership. I hope so, because during the transfer window our captain Gavin Mahon, was let go.

My manager, Aidy Boothroyd, called me into his office a few months ago and asked me who my favorite captain was and I said with a stupid look on my face, that I had only played under one captain and that was Gavin. I said that in America, the whole captain thing was a little bit different, that there isn't really armbands and things like that. However, there were great leaders like Michael Jordan and especially Brett Favre, who were great examples of what it means to lead. Of course he didn't know who Brett Favre was but he does now!

Boothroyd told me to research as much as I could about good captains because Gavin was leaving in the transfer window and I would be named club captain. It's a little bit scary when you put the armband on for the first time. For the past two seasons I've been the vice captain and filled in for Gav when he wasn't playing, but once the armband is yours, you do feel a little bit more of that "P" word again.

I've always been up for a challenge and this will be one of my biggest. But for me, it's not about becoming a different person or shouting and bossing more people around. The challenge is trying to be the person that always leads by example and being the person to steady the ship when things are getting rocky. I'm hoping I'll figure it out because I still have a lot to learn about what this position calls for, but it's a great honor that Aidy would put it in my hands to fill the role. If we can lift that promotion trophy at the end of the season, it'll be a great achievement -- because only a real "team" can get out of this league.

On the U.S. side of things, I've been a little bit disappointed to miss two camps through injury. I missed the South Africa trip because I pulled my calf, and most recently the Mexico game because I strained my groin just three days before I was set to leave. I've been mostly injury-free all season except for these little nicks that seem to show up right as I get the national team call-up. Bob Bradley must think I'm scared to come in!

I'm happy for the boys though because they keep getting good results. Wins against South Africa and Sweden, and a draw against Mexico shows that we are getting better and more consistent. It's great to see because when we start qualifiers for the World Cup, we need to be at our best. In the meantime, let's hope the waters will stay calm and Watford can sail back into the Premiership. Hopefully, I won't be injured for the next U.S. camp.



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