Season Preview 2012/13: Watford
It`s been all change this summer then eh? The one thing we can all agree on at least is that the departure of Laurence Bassini is a massive plus, and subsequently the Pozzo family, as the men and (presumably women), who achieved this feat need a big pat on the back for doing so. Looking forward though, it`s hard not to be excited about the forthcoming season. The experience, business portfolio and to date the proof laid bare in front of us in the shape of the newly-assembled playing squad are all indicators that the club is finally headed in the right direction.
The loss of Sean Dyche is a genuine shame. One of football`s good guys, you couldn`t imagine Dychey walking out on the club to take a post at a bigger club. It`s a shame that he as yet hasn`t found new employment but you would imagine that riding the crest of the wave of goodwill from Watford supporters, he will find a good job sooner rather than later.
What of the new man, Gianfranco Zola? His message has been clear, this is a side that will, come what may, play nice, attractive football. So we`re not 100 per cent there yet, but there has undoubtedly been a marked improvement from the first pre-season run-out at Boreham Wood, to the 1-0 extra-time win over Wycombe Wanderers last Saturday. We are moving in the right direction, it won`t be a seamless process and there will definitely be some hiccups along the way, but progress is being made and that for me at least, is more than good enough.
Strengths: The Udinese-Granada-Watford 'brotherhood`. We`ve utilised this well so far of course, signing no less than six players on loan from our Italian and Spanish brethren - a number you would expect to increase over the course of the campaign. Whilst I do personally have reservations about the continued borrowing, it`s nothing we haven`t done before and if it gets us from A, namely the Championship, to B, the Premier League, you won`t hear me complaining. Fickle, I know.
Weakness`: Proven goalscorers. It`s probably been said for at least half a dozen of this year`s previews, but we are genuinely lacking a goalscorer at this level. Big Chris Iwelumo has 100 during his lengthy career, whilst new-boy Alex Geijo has done it in Spain. Can that be transferred to this level? You`d better hope so because Joe Garner and the (for now) banged up Troy Deeney aren`t going to get the goals.
Best business so far: Almen Abdi on loan from Udinese. I for one cannot remember the last time we signed a six-cap Swiss international with Champions League experience on-loan from a top Serie A club. Abdi has looked good in pre-season and now it is all about transferring that form to the real test of the Championship. A good passing range and impressive vision give the Hornet`s new playmaker the skillset needed to pick apart divisional rivals.
Star man: He`s one of our own, Sean Murray. With young players likely to be on the fringe of things again this season, Murray will surely carry the flag for the Hornet`s Harefield Academy once more. Playing slightly further forward as a wide forward in the 4-3-3, one hopes and expects the home-grown starlet will shine once more.
In: Matej Vydra, Steve Leo Beleck, Almen Abdi & Alex Geijo (all Udinese) loan, Daniel Pudil, Ikechi Anya (both Granada) loan, Fitz Hall (QPR) free & Manuel Almunia (Arsenal) free.
Out: Josh Walker (Scunthorpe Utd) free, David Mirfin (Scunthorpe Utd) free, Rene Gilmartin (Plymouth Argyle) free, Michael Bryan, Tom James (both released), Chez Isaac (Boreham Wood) free, Scott Loach (Ipswich Town) £150k & Adrian Mariappa (Reading) £2m + add-ons.
wfc123: We`re one of the divisions unknown quantities, that`s for sure. I think an improvement on last season is feasible, but I certainly don`t expect us to sweep the division aside and romp to the title by Spring.
A lot will depend on how quickly the squad are hitting the right notes in terms of how Zola wants them to play and equally, how quickly the new members of the squad blend into the existing playing staff. Patience, will definitely be a virtue. 9th.
chrisgwfc: Who knows following the takeover? Who and how many will be coming into the club? Squad as it stands is good enough to finish around mid-table but if a couple of quality strikers can be added it may be a better finish.