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Worried About Rey

Gareth Robins on high expectations when you buy Barça players from Wish


I once rode the ‘music as ringtone’ zeitgeist and thought it would be incredibly cool to have one of my then-favourite tracks, Worried about Ray by The Hoosiers (ask your parents, kids), as mine. Unfortunately, like many things in my life, I was on the wrong side of cool and before I knew it, songs as ringtones were as cool as Michael Gove dad-dancing in an Aberdeen nightclub.  I discovered my cultural faux pas one evening on the train to Aylesbury. Just as we were exiting Harrow-on-the-Hill, my phone rang and some hip young thing shot me the worst sort of contemptuous, withering look as The Hoosiers did their thing.

It’s that look that lives with me and elicits similar daggers from the Watford fans I know when Rey Manaj is mentioned.

The portents seemed sort-of favourable. He’d scored five goals in 30 games for Spezia which was a concern, but they were registered in Serie A. There was also a spell with Barcelona B, and if Kiko Femenia was anything to go by, that would be a decent omen (we weren’t asking Manaj to defend against wingers, after all). Add that to the fact that he was a full Albanian international and, OK, it was only £500,000 but Inter had paid money for him, which led me to dare think he’d be a fair signing. Wearing the number nine shirt presumably signalled a fair amount of confidence in his own ability.

The first sighting was fairly low key, at the Southampton game in Ruislip, but it was a friendly after all. Nine minutes against Sheffield United wasn’t enough to help form an opinion about him, and Burnley at home saw him remain on the bench.

A holiday meant I missed trips to Preston and Birmingham: enthused that Rey had scored his first goal for the ‘Orns at Brum, footage of the strike dampened my enthusiasm somewhat as it was clear our Rey had ‘claimed’ it by sticking a leg out at King Ken’s goal-bound effort.

Next up for us was QPR at home. From minute one it looked to me like our former Barça B man did not fancy the physical battle with the QPR defence one bit. Pulling up with a hamstring injury in the 31st minute looked to be a reason to get off the pitch as soon as he could: clearly I was wrong, as the injury was genuine given he missed the next three months with it. 

After five weeks without our Watford fix, excitement was moderate to reasonable, albeit tempered by sub-zero temperatures, for the home game with Hull. That sense of mild excitement lasted about ten minutes due to another soporific home performance by the Hornets. Rey came on as a sub, missed a sitter and exited in the 71st minute with a recurrence of the hamstring injury that had kept him out since QPR.

And that was it for our Albanian international, with his contract terminated in January to either make space in the squad or until he returned this summer, depending on what you read/believed. 

The bald stats: six underwhelming starts and the aforementioned steal of a goal to show for it. The fee was undisclosed so it could constitute a punt gone wrong, but I’d opine that there’s been too many of those of late. Certainly this summer’s reserved transfer activity might indicate a lesson learned by the club. 

That 2007 smash hit (poetic licence sought) remains in my iTunes library. Worried about Rey? Not really.

Worried about the judgement of whoever thought he’d stand up to the rigours of the Championship? Definitely. 

Now where can I find out how to download Crazy Frog?