PRECIOUS few people in football have a bad word to say about Keith Andrews, so why did his spell at Wanderers simply fail to ignite?

There haven’t been many tears shed on the terraces as the experienced midfielder prepares to start afresh at Watford, the 12th club of a 15-year professional career.

In the eyes of most fans, the 34-year-old former Ireland international was a costly error, brought in on a high wage and a three-year contract at a time the club needed to tighten their belt.

Andrews had been the man Owen Coyle signed to add some steel to his midfield. On paper he looked like an ideal candidate to replace Nigel Reo-Coker, and boasted a recent record that suggested he would also add goals.

Coyle had tried to bring him in on loan the previous January only for the deal to collapse.

One wonders how things might have worked out differently if he had signed for Bolton then rather than after relegation?

When the Scot finally landed his man, Wanderers struggled outside the top flight, and Andrews suffered as much as anyone.

By the time Coyle was sacked with the club 18th in the table, the midfielder had become spokesperson for a disaffected dressing room. He spoke up in some difficult times; including the aftermath of a 3-1 defeat at Hull City that many believe was the turning point in Coyle’s reign.

“The fans are entitled to their opinion and if I was one of them I wouldn’t be overly enamoured with what I was watching,” he reflected, honestly.

When Dougie Freedman stepped into the role in October 2012 things picked up briefly for Andrews, who assumed penalty-taking duties that accounted for all four of his goals that season.

There were already signs his deep-lying midfield role was not playing to his strengths, but a serious thigh injury at Crystal Palace in January effectively spelled the end of his time with the Whites.

The addition of Medo Kamara later that month provided a sign Freedman wanted something different.

The Scot was determined to usher in a more dynamic style, and Andrews simply did not fit.

Regardless, he started the following season as Whites fans waited for Jay Spearing’s move from Liverpool.

A league appearance at Burnley was followed by another drab day at Crawley as Wanderers crashed out of the Captial One Cup in what proved the Irishman’s last appearance.

As Spearing’s move came through, Andrews was packed off to Brighton where he enjoyed a successful eight months, helping the Seagulls to the play-off semi-finals.

“Keith is at a stage where he needs to play every week,” said the Whites boss. “He has been a fantastic professional for the club but I explained to him I have got young Josh Vela coming through and I need to get him as much time as I can in these games.

“He’s been good about it, he’s accepted it, and had a couple of offers on the table. It’s a natural progression and he knows that.”

Wanderers had moved on in Andrews’ absence. Freedman wanted pace in his midfield and was looking towards Spearing, Medo, Vela and Liam Trotter.

Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield looked favourites to take Andrews on loan until Watford emerged as a late suitor – proof Andrews’ stock is still high despite his disappointment at Bolton. He departs with little fanfare and a sense of being the right man signed at the wrong time.