Lee Bowyer’s continued involvement in coaching Watford’s Under-21 players remains unclear.
Head of academy Chris McGuane talked very much in the past tense when discussing Bowyer’s absence from the dugout last week and there seemed little inclination on the club’s behalf to extend his stay. McGuane declined the chance to say something along the lines of, ‘Lee’s been great since he came in, there has been an upturn in results and he’s worked very well with Harry Kewell. The players have enjoyed working with him.’
Those who listened to McGuane, in the wake of the Under-21 Premier League Cup defeat to Charlton Athletic, were left in little doubt that Bowyer’s involvement had ceased.
Yet Harry Kewell, in contrast to McGuane, said yesterday that Bowyer “hasn’t left” when asked by the local media about his former Leeds teammate who was missing from the technical area for the match with Colchester United.
“He’s still on holiday,” said Kewell on his good friend who runs a 12-acre fishing lake three-and-a-half hours from Calais. “He’s got the life of riley, that boy.”
Bowyer’s involvement has been shrouded in mystery since he arrived at the end of September. There was no mention of his presence in the first U21 win of the season, at Nottingham Forest, while the local media were asked to turn a blind eye to him wearing a club tracksuit, warming up the players and giving instructions in the U21 match against Leeds United at London Colney. His name has not been mentioned in any club output and he’s featured in the background of just one published picture of Kewell. Quique Sanchez would not have been allowed to field questions on Bowyer, either.
Alex Jakubiak and Bernard Mensah have spoken on the record about the positive impact of the Uefa B qualified coach while a coach and another player have also spoken to us in glowing terms about his contribution in the six games he was involved.
“He was excellent,” said Kewell. “I don’t claim to know everything and it’s good to work with someone you grew up with. I knew how he played and we did work well together. We don’t know the full story yet but you never know what happens.”
Bowyer’s work on the training ground directly resulted in Jakubiak’s winning goal against Leeds and he could, in every game, be heard clearly coaxing and passing on perceptive coaching interventions to Watford’s wingers and full-backs during play.
“You don’t bring someone in to just work on a certain point,” said Kewell. “His main point is obviously midfield but he’s played the attacking role, the defending role, the aggressive role and the passing role at the highest level, so for these young midfielders, who can play, it’s a golden ticket to see the insight of a wonderful midfielder.”