In profile: The Pozzo family
Unfortunately we aren`t experts on either Serie A or La Liga here at VitalWatford towers so we picked the brains of those who are. Here`s part one of our delve into the Pozzo`s involvement in Udinese and Granada, focussing on the Zebrette (Little Zebras)...
First and foremost, it`s fair to say that with any takeover comes significant change and disruption to the continuity. When Laurence Bassini took over the club this was much needed with the club`s finances a well-publicised mess. However, as Bassini departs the club having delivered the Red and Yellow Lion, a new pitch and a number of other improvements around Vicarage Road as well as 11 new faces, there is undoubtedly a degree of concern as more unknowns come into power at the club at a time where things looked to be on an even keel.
Perhaps the biggest strength of the Pozzo family is their experience in football. Giampaolo bought Udinese in 1986 and has since delivered Champions League football for two years back-to-back, he`s also overseen Granada`s promotion and subsequent survival in La Liga. Whilst experience in no way guarantees success, it has to be a good starting point and this was something Bassini never had on his side.
In terms of the running of the club, Italian football expert and journalist Davidde Corran, (@DaviddeCorran on Twitter), ¨explains the setup of Pozzo`s clubs: "Giampaolo is no longer the President of the club [Udinese], but he no doubt keeps a keen eye over how the club is run. I imagine at Watford someone will be brought in to manage the day-to-day needs in line with the over arching principals that Pozzo has put in place at both Udinese and Granada." To tie up the loose end in that statement, it has been said that son Gino Pozzo will run Watford on a day-to-day basis if the deal is completed.
The big drawback as far as most supporters are concerned is the number of players loaned by Udinese to Granada - something which helps to take away a club`s identity; understandably a worry for Hornet`s fans who are already used to a high turnover of loanees. Corran allies that fear: "Udinese have one of the best scouting systems in world football and they loan players out all across Serie A with much success. Watford fans shouldn't be concerned, but excited by the prospect of some of the most exciting South American talent arriving in their squad.
"Remember, Pozzo will want Watford to make money so he's not going to just send across the dud players who he can't find any other clubs for. His whole ownership setup must work in symmetry with one another to ensure they are all making money, so Pozzo will want Watford to do well. He has a clear idea of how he wants to achieve this and it won't involve sending the scraps from Udinese across to England."
Whilst that sounds positive it is also worth considering loan regulations in the Football League prevent clubs from having more than five loanees in their match day squads. As Corran suggests, Pozzo is in this to make Watford a success so if any players do move from to Udine to WD18, they will be players who are up to scratch. The lingering concern will of course be whether Sean Dyche has the final say on those exotic imports - or for that matter whether or not he will even be around to do so.
Another positive is the similarity between the business models of both clubs. Watford are famed for the Harefield Academy and the constant production of their own home-grown players who are consistently good enough to make a first time impact. Whilst Udinese`s superb scouting system sees the club scouring the globe for talent, (South America in particular), the core principle remains the same: "Essentially, Pozzo has achieved this success by having an extensive and world class global scouting system, signing young players with lots of potential and then selling the best ones at the peak of their value.
"Yet Udinese isn't just a footballer farmhouse, they've just qualified for the Champions League for the second season in a row despite selling some of their best players before the last campaign had even begun." Indeed, only this week Chilean full-back Mauricio Isla and Ghanaian midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah are set to join Juventus for ~£15m. Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez of course joined Barcelona from Udine last summer in a deal worth £30m.
"This success has come from having a clear financial goal and business plan to achieve it. Udinese is one of only four clubs who made a profit in Serie A in the last season we have detailed records for 2010/11."
Scandal has of course provided a disturbing undertone in Italian football in recent times and whilst Corran admits that Udinese have not been blameless under Pozzo`s control, he is adamant that it is not something that will transfer to the Football League: "There's no denying that Udinese and Pozzo, much like most of Italian football, have been caught up in one scandal or another. For example, the club was one of many who received punishment as part of the investigation into Doping Amministratvo (false accounting) in 2007. Yet I wouldn't expect any of this element to be brought across into England, instead it's symptomatic of Italian football's own issues."
So there you have it, a man with a plan and a proven track record. What more could we ask for?