Watford goalkeepers nightmare disproves Hollywood theory

Gianfranco Zola
Zola… Going on a voyage with a beautiful woman, a bespectacled scientist and a petrified foreigner who gets bumped off early on (Image: Hilton Teper)

Watford manager Gianfranco Zola was left fuming as his Hornets side were denied automatic promotion by the failure to play out of an established Hollywood principle.

After first choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia had been injured during the warm-up and his replacement Jonathan Bond stretchered off following a first half collision with Leeds United’s Dominic Poleon, Zola tossed a pair of gloves to a randomly selected youngster in the crowd and said, “Hey kid, you’re up,” while gesturing with his head towards the goal with a sort of wisened, knowing half smile.

The Italian, diminutive, had been led by movies to believe that this would work, but the Watford goalkeepers nightmare – since patented as a name for a prog rock band – was compounded when the rookie’s rookie error, rookie-esque, led to a winning goal for Leeds.

Speaking exclusively to Football Burp, Zola was adamant that the ploy would have been successful if he’d been Morgan Freeman, or John Candy, or someone like that.

He said: “We may not have finished 2nd, but we will carry our bobsleigh into the playoffs with pride.

“I should have brought myself on. If only I had seen that movie. After all, I am still the best player in training every day. Even as I talk to you now I am doing kick-ups. Mille e sei…mille e sette…”

Football Burp then presented Zola with a list of other sports movie clichés to see if he felt they applied to what has been an eventful season at Vicarage Road.

1. A down and out coach is offered one last shot

“I wouldn’t say I was down and out, although I did worry [about the perception of my abilities] after [my ultimately unsuccessful stint at] West Ham.”

2. The coach can’t get along with his star player

“I would say that Matej and I get along very well. At least until his recent dry patch, which has cost us dearly. So yes, maybe this one is true.”

3. Someone doubts the protagonist’s abilities, and is made to believe in them

“What is ‘protagonist’?”

4. The players overcome race relations or gang violence, and are brought together by being a team

“No, but Troy Deeney went to jail for kicking a student in the head.”

5. The opposing team is larger, better dressed, better equipped yet end up defeated by the protagonist’s team

“What? No one is better dressed than my team.”

6. A death or injury provides the main character with the extra incentive to win

“We have goalkeepers, we have no goalkeepers, my will to win is the same.”

7. The main character is considered too old to win, yet does.

“I can’t believe Lloyd Doyley is only thirty!”

8. An emotional speech inspires the protagonists.

“Yes, I do this all the time.”

9. Near the end of the movie it will seem that the protagonist’s team has no chance of winning, but they quickly bounce back with little time left.

“No, not yet.”

10. The protagonist’s team makes a valiant comeback effort only to fall just short at the last second (Puck hits the post, shot rims out, etc.). This is immediately followed by a dramatic montage with tear soaked hugs of players and coaches who are genuinely better off for the experience.

“Yes fall short, but no, no better off.”

Gianfranco Zola, thank you.