Watford Career: 26 games (19 starts), 5 goals
To: Derby County (undisclosed fee)
It’s very easy when looking at all of the players who leave Watford these days, to point to the massive overhaul of expectations and competition at the club. Many of those departing were brought into a skint Watford, one that was virtually running on empty, and asked to knuckle down and grind out Championship safety every year.
But then you look at players like Nyron Nosworthy and Mark Yeates, who forced their way into the team and impressed, or Tommie Hoban, who came from nowhere to become a permanent fixture in the line-up. It’s not impossible, everyone has a chance.
The fact is that Craig Forsyth was never quite up to it. When Malky Mackay brought him in during his abortive last summer at the club, he came in a similar situation to Stephen McGinn. The gulf between Scottish football and the English game is huge, and promising young players from north of the border need to feel their way into the league. He didn’t get that opportunity. Sean Dyche’s dearth of resources meant he was an immediate starter.
The vast majority of his 15 league starts that season came in the first few months, however, and once the side’s form picked up, he was unable to get back into the team ahead of Alex Kacaniklic.
Forsyth arrived at the age of 22, after two seasons of regular football with Dundee, but he never looked like a footballer. I suppose it’s an indictment of the cosmetic nature of modern football that unless a player has a custom “trim” and a sleeve tattoo he can’t really be taken seriously. Craig seemed to be a nice young lad from Carnoustie, a polite little scamp who carries bags at the golf club for pocket money. That in itself isn’t a problem – it’s lovely to have variation from the identi-kit baller that Britain is currently producing; the problem was that he played like it.
Looking every bit his 6ft 2in (to be honest I’m surprised he isn’t taller), Forsyth pushed his gangly frame as far as it would go when deployed on the left wing, but never played with any particular fire, no panache.
That he was played on the left wing accentuated the problem. Craig Forsyth isn’t a winger. That he’s often played there seems to be down entirely to the fact that he’s left footed. But where should he play? The power of his shot and his build would suggest that he’d be a good fit up front, but his movement is too one-dimensional and, for all of his height, his aerial ability is lacking. He would, perhaps, be a passable central midfielder, but doesn’t quite play quickly enough to hold his own in the most populated area of the pitch.
He suffers from Jon Harley syndrome. He’s a fine footballer, but he is completely without position.
Having assessed Forsyth during a ten-game loan spell towards the end of last season, Nigel Clough has stated that he will be Derby’s first choice left-back, and with a solid pair of central partners, he could do well there.
We had some good moments with Craig: his debut goal on the opening day of the 2011/12 season at Burnley; the three minute brace against Bradford, with whom he also spent some time on loan with earlier this year, the second goal of which was a peach; and, lest we forget, his one league start last season was in the 4-0 pasting of Huddersfield. But it never really happened.
He’s a good guy to have in the squad. The rumoured £150k fee that Derby have paid (though Watford have officially kept it ‘undisclosed’) is a small outlay for somebody who could be a useful addition to the changing room for a good number of year. His lack of frills means he can drop into the side after a stint on the sidelines with minimal fuss, but I’m not sure whether he has the game to be a regular fixture in a Championship team.
Good luck Craig. Prove me wrong.