Watford might be favourites for Premier League relegation although a fan argues that the Hornets could surprise plenty of people next season
On Wednesday, we published an article with five reasons why Watford will be relegated by the end of the 2015/16 Premier League season. It’s safe to say that there was a reaction on the website and social media, with Hornets fans claiming the article was badly-researched and inaccurate (although some seemed to enjoy it from a humorous perspective).
Therefore, we felt it was only fair to offer a Watford fan a right of reply, with Richard Pegden stepping up to the plate with five reasons why Watford will be remaining in the Premier League for the 2016/17 season.
Newly promoted Premier League side Watford are 11/4 with bet365 to finish bottom next season. Quique Sanchez Flores’ newly promoted Watford side will attempt to take on the challenge of staying in the Premier League next season. They will face a tough test but do they have what it takes to stay up?
The Hornets are a best-priced 11/4 with bet365 to finish rock-bottom of the top-flight next term in their first season back at this level 2007, but they possess a structure and set-up that could actually surprise people.
Much has been made of Watford’s 4 Head Coaches last season and another change over the summer has given further weight to the doubters. However, maybe Watford have been really smart here. How many times have we seen bosses who can get a club up but can’t keep them up? Have Watford simply identified that, in order to stay up, a coach with a stronger pedigree was required?
Enter Quique Sanchez Flores, a Head Coach with a track record that includes a Europa League win with Atletico Madrid and taking Valencia to the Champions League quarter-finals. A Head Coach who captain Troy Deeney has already described as “the best I’ve ever worked with”. A Head Coach who may just be exactly what a newly promoted side needs.
Owners who are football people
The owners of Watford, the Pozzos, are proper football people. They’re not investors, they’re not rich kids looking for a play thing, they’re not people who will play the lottery with a football club and leave an irretrievable mess when they get bored. We’ve seen plenty of those types of owners, but that isn’t the Pozzos.
The Pozzo family have been in football for nearly 30 years, becoming owners of unfashionable Italian side Udinese in 1986. A club they still own and one that is in remarkably better shape than when they arrived. During their tenure of Udinese, this unfashionable club have qualified for the Europa League, the Champions League and finished third in Serie A. They are consistently in the top half of Serie A.
They also own Granada in Spain, taking a side from the third tier of Spanish football to the Primera Liga and keeping them there for the last 2 seasons despite the unbalanced weight of finance in the Spanish top flight.
So now to Watford. In 3 short years, having saved the club from almost certain bankruptcy, they have not only provided a squad of quality players that has seen them gain the promotion they set out to achieve, but they have also invested heavily off-the-pitch. Finally Vicarage Road is a 4-sided ground again and they have even found the time to honour two of the club’s legends – former Chairman Sir Elton John and former manager extraordinaire Graham Taylor now both have stands named after them.
So I repeat. The Pozzos are football people. Football people with a plan. Football people with an ambition. Football people with a will to succeed.
Quality additions to a solid squad
One of the foundations on which the Pozzos have built their football structure is a global scouting network that is the rival of any around the world. Don’t forget it was the Pozzos that discovered Alexis Sanchez among a host of others who have been recruited young and sold for significant profits. That is the business model at the heart of the Pozzo’s success.
This summer has seen the addition of internationals Giedrius Arlauskis (GK) and Sebastian Prodl (def) for no cost at all after their contracts expired at previous clubs. Further internationals have followed with Jose Holebas, a highly-regarded full-back from Roma (who kept Ashley Cole out of their side for much of last season), Etiene Capoue, Valon Behrami and Allan Nyom. At least 1 more will likely arrive.
While you can argue not many of the squad have Premier League experience, the Pozzos have added to a squad that already included a number of players arguably brought to play for Watford in the Premier League rather than the Championship. Almen Abdi leaps to mind here, he could well prove a star next season. They certainly love him at Vicarage Road already.
While, as stated above, the current Watford squad doesn’t boast much actual Premier League experience, they do possess a hunger that comes from the desire to prove yourself. For many at the club, this season provides the opportunity to build a career to be proud of, whether that happens at Watford or ultimately bigger clubs. This season, the Watford squad has the chance to build something to be proud of. And they have the hunger to do just that.
An ability to score goals
Often clubs that get relegated do so because they didn’t hit the back of the net enough. Look at Burnley last season, Norwich the season before, QPR the season before that.
This Watford side does not have a problem scoring goals. 91 goals on the way to promotion last season, 74 the season before (despite finishing 13th), 85 the season before. Yes, of course this has been in the Championship not the Premier League but averaging nearly 2 goals a game over 3 years is no bad foundation to hit the Premier League with.
Their front 3 of Deeney, Vydra and Ighalo hit 56 goals between them last season. In Troy Deeney they have their leader on and off the pitch as well as a striker with the strength and, more importantly, the hunger, to succeed in the Premier League. In Matej Vydra they possess a striker with the pace to scare any defence. And in Odion Ighalo they have a striker who knows how to be in the right place at the right time. Despite limited experience in top flight football, those 3 all possess attributes to score goals in England’s top flight.
Make no mistake – Watford will score goals in the Premier League next season. And that, along with a proven Head Coach, fantastic owners, a decent squad and the hunger to prove themselves, gives them every chance of staying up.