Season Preview: Watford
After the unexpected success of the first season of the Pozzo era many expected Watford to kick on from their third place finish and gain promotion. However, it was not to be for a variety of reasons and that resulted in a disappointing 13th place finish. The core of the English group the previous season was dismantled with the summer departures of Jonathan Hogg, John Eustace and Mark Yeates. Despite a good start to the season that saw the Hornets sitting fourth in early October they then went on a horrible run at home losing five games in a row. That saw the resignation of manager Gianfranco Zola in mid-December, a move which came with Watford having slipped down to 13th in the table. Italian Beppe Sannino stepped into the void in December and immediately improved the Hornets form particularly at home. As the season hit March there was still an outside chance that Watford could finish in the play-off's but a 2-1 Easter Monday defeat at QPR put an end to their chances. Most disappointing was the Hornets capitulation in their final three league games once there was no longer anything to play for. A 4-1 home defeat to Huddersfield on the final day was the low point.
Not a lot was known about Beppe Sannino when he arrived to take charge of Watford in mid-December. He soon made an impact on the clubs supporters with his energetic style on the touchline. He enjoyed a low profile playing career with a number of lower league Italian clubs. His management career follows in the same steps as his playing career, although he was involved in a particularly interesting episode at Palermo in 2012. Having been hired in the summer of 2012 he was sacked after just three games by a new owner, although he was rehired later that season in an attempt to keep them up. A short spell at Cheivo in 2013 ended when he was sacked last November before he joined Watford on an 18-month programme.
In: Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham Hotspur), Gabriel Tamas (Doncaster Rovers), Lloyd Dyer (Leicester City), Craig Cathcart (Blackpool), Juan Carlos Paredes (Granada)
Loans In: Matej Vydra, Odion Ighalo (Udinese), Daniel Tozser, Gianni Munari (Parma), Keith Andrews (Bolton Wanderes)
Out: Gary Woods (Leyton Orient), Reece Brown (Barnsley), Javier Acuna (Olimpia Asuncion), Manuel Almunia, Marco Cassetti, Ross Jenkins, Fitz Hall, Nyron Nosworthy (Released)
Loans Out: Essaid Belkalem (Trabzonspor)
Watford certainly have the players to make a mark on the Championship this season after their disappointing time last campaign. The return of Vydra and the signing of Tozser have been two key additions to the team for the coming season. The manager is still unproven in many respects but he definitely has the squad at his disposal to mount a serious promotion challenge.