Premier League Preview: Watford FC
Rough seas ahead for the Hornets though they do have the quality by Mitch Hooper
Despite that impressive record they did go through four managers last season - Beppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia, Billy McKinlay and Slavisa Jokanovic - with the latter being removed after promotion was won after he and the club failed to agree to a new contract. Jokanovic felt he was worth more, the Pozzos didn’t.
Chairman: Giampaolo Pozzo (and the Pozzo family)
Giampaolo Pozzo is an Italian businessman and current owner of three football clubs: Udinese Calcio in Italy, Granada CF in Spain and of course, Watford FC in England. The family made their name in Italian football by running a model based upon an extensive scouting network across the world that buys young and upcoming talent for relatively small sums and when they turn into stars, sell them on for a large profit. This profit is then reinvested and the cycle - in theory - starts over again. Previous prominent examples of this include Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Juve midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah and Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Since taking acquiring Watford in 2012 the Pozzos have invested heavily in the club, including sending over players from the other two teams under their ownership, such as Almen Abdi and star striker Matej Vydra. An £18 million maintenance deal has also been signed to renovate Vicarage Road, with the Pozzos on record as saying securing Watford’s place in the Premier League as key to progressing their football empire.
Manager: Quique Sanchez Flores
It was something of a surprise to see Flores rock up at Watford this summer, with the Spaniard having spent the previous few years coaching in the Middle East despite a good reputation in his native country.
Flores started his coaching career with Getafe (after a spell in charge of Real Madrid’s youth teams) and after finishing an impressive 13th place with the club in the 04-05 season was awarded his big break at Valencia, where he succeeded Claudio Ranieri.
In his first season he guided Los Che to third place and the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they were dispatched by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side. Two more top four finishes followed before he was sacked after a poor run of results in October 2007.
A relatively successful spell in Portugal followed (one domestic cup) before Flores took over at Atletico Madrid in 2009 following the sacking of Abel Resino. Although he could only muster a ninth place finish in the league he reached two cup finals, beating Fulham in the Europa League but losing to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey. The following season was a stormy one and after clashing with Diego Forlan Flores announced his departure before the season was out.
Spells at Al Ahli and Al Ain followed before earlier this year he returned to Getafe, though resigned after just a month at the helm citing personal reasons.
Flores will need all the nous he has picked up during his career to meld together a squad that has been radically overhauled, though he often starts well in jobs before tailing off. That could be a good omen for the Hornets in their quest for survival.
Normally when clubs are promoted they add four of five players to the squad with Premier League experience. Not Watford, who have radically overhauled their playing staff and ruthlessly thrown to the wolves anybody they don’t believe is good enough for the top flight.
To be fair, much of the forward line remains - as it should do after their impressive record last year. The majority of the signings have been in the defensive half. Greek left-back Jose Holebas has arrived from Roma for £1.8 million, whilst centre-halves Sebastian Prodl (Werder Bremen) and Miguel Britos (Napoli) have arrived on frees. Cameroonian right-back Alan Nyom has arrived from Udinese after spending the previous six years on loan at Granada whilst the defensive midfield slots have been filled by former West Ham midfielder Valon Behrami and Etienne Capoue (pictured), a club record £6 million signing from Tottenham.
Jose Jurado plays a little further forward but was bought in on Flores’s recommendation, after previously flourishing in a free role behind the striker under him at Atletico Madrid. Finally, Steveen Berghuis turned down a move to PSV Eindhoven to sign for the Hornets - having been named in Dutch squads earlier this summer he could be one to watch.
It doesn’t end there though, with the club having stated that they remain in the hunt for one more wide player to compliment their existing options. They have confirmed their interest in Genoa’s Argentine winger Diego Perotti.
How will they do?:
It’s a cliche but it really does depend on how well the players (and the manager) that have been bought in gel together. Watford have taken a massive gamble in bringing in this many new players but they did show promise against Everton on Saturday, eventually drawing 2-2 with a team that many believe could make a run for Europe this year.
Despite that, reservations remain. Miguel Britos has looked every inch the rugged Uruguayan centre back so it will come as little surprise that he has an issue with his temperament, and whilst the forwards flourished in the Championship do they have what it takes to do it in top flight.
Either way if the Hornets are struggling come January the Pozzos won’t be reluctant to invest in more players, which perhaps gives them an advantage. They’ve had a good start to the season with the opening day draw but rough seas may well lie ahead.Click here to stay up to date with AtTheMatch