Can Zola lead Watford to the Premiership?
Watford Pre season: Good, bad or ugly?
Off the pitch, a very exciting pre season for us. Respectable new owners, Gianfranco Zola appointed manager and not to mention the bizzarre transfer rumours (Del Piero, Inzaghi, Iaquinta). On the pitch mainly good, but it was always going to be hard with so many new faces coming to the club. An 8-0 drubbing of Barnet in a behind closed doors friendly was nice, as well as solid performances at Gillingham and Cork City. With promising performances from the likes of youngster Sean Murray and new-signing Matej Vydra, as well as the financial backing and host of new recruits, I don’t think we’ll be going into the season as relegation candidates as usual.
Hopes for the season:
I think to justify the decision to replace Sean Dyche, who took us to a respectable 11th with one of the lowest budgets in the league, we’ll need to equal that. Obviously with the new owners, manager and the number of new faces coming in we have to be reasonable but there is no reason why we can’t maintain a mid-table place and go from there.
Leeds Away has been good to us for the last couple of seasons, if not to just get a good laugh out of reading Ken Bates programme notes
Fears for the season:
We lose everything that Dyche (and Malky Mackay before him) had instilled in the squad, a group of players who are willing to work hard for each other, doing what they do well without trying to do too much. Watford has always been a family club and whilst the new ownership looks promising (We can’t thank the football-focused Pozzo’s enough after buying the club off the money-driven Bassini), I think it is fair to say that most Watford fans would love to see us maintain that community spirit. There’s also the obvious fear that the new signings won’t gel or that we’ll become an Udinese or Granada feeder team, ignoring the fantastic Academy system we have in place.
Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept
The typical Watford fan in me would say it is still acceptable that we retain Championship status going into next season but I think with the new players we’ve brought in, especially the likes of Fitz Hall and Manuel Almunia, players with Premiership experience, I think anything above 15th would be the bare minimum.
Fixture you’re most looking forward to?
Leeds Away has been good to us for the last couple of seasons, if it’s not to get a good laugh out of reading Ken Bates programme notes. Geographically, Palace are probably our nearest rivals but as of late we haven’t had the best of luck against them so I’d have to go with Leeds.
Got the right manager?
It’s hard to say right now. I think he got a bit of a hard time during his time at West Ham but people always forget he got them up to 9th in the table in his first season before everything started changing behind the scenes there. He likes his teams to play attractive, passing football which isn’t something we haven’t necessarily seen at Vicarage Road for a long time and it’s always hard to mix that style of football whilst matching the physicality of other teams in our division. Only time will tell but I, for one, am optimistic he can do a good job.
My heart says play-offs or just below, my head says anywhere between 9th-14th
By Christmas you’ll be…
Hopefully being shown earlier on the Football League Show!
Player you’d most like to sign?
It’d be nice to see Fan Favourite Tommy Smith back at the club, he did us a financial favour by leaving and it’d be good to see him banging the goals in at the Rookery End one last time. I wouldn’t mind seeing Barry Robson of Middlesborough at the club, he’s got a lovely left foot on him, no matter how unrealistic it is!
Which player should we look out for?
Sean Murray, he’s one of our own. A Watford boy born and bred, he was linked with a move to Man City before he had even signed a professional contract with us and he broke into the first team last year and hasn’t looked out of place since.
Which player would you love to ditch?
As well as he did for us last season, Troy Deeney has done himself no career favours by getting himself locked up. I don’t think you can justify having somebody like that at a club so family-orientated as ours.
We definitely won’t hear enough songs about how we only have three stands.
Opposition hate figure?
Neil Warnock. The famous anagram says it all.
Tell us something we don’t know about your club?
There is actually a six foot difference between one end of the pitch and the other, it’s hardly noticeable but if you look close enough you can see!
What won’t happen this season?
We won’t go into the season as relegation candidates. We won’t be ignored by the majority of the media and we definitely won’t hear enough songs about how we only have three stands.
‘We’ve got Lloydinho’ – in honour of every Watford fan’s hero, the imperious Lloyd Doyley, who celebrated his testimonial a couple of weeks ago.
Where will you finish?
My heart says play-offs or just below, my head says anywhere between 9th-14th.
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