Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Creating the sum of our parts...

Lots of different parts. Can Zola put them together?
I think I'm what marketing experts would call an 'engaged supporter'. I care enough about my football club to pay for a season ticket, write articles like this, features for the match-day programme and to help put together a Watford podcast (which you all listen to, right?). I'm definitely an active supporter. There are a few things I'm not though. I'm not a 'happy clapper'. Despite dedicating more of my life than is natural to my football club, I don't stick up for everything they do simply because they are Watford. Neither am I a Pozzo family apologist. I don't necessarily think that what is currently happening at WD18 is ideal and won't blindly stick up for the 'project' just because we can now call Udinese and Granada 'brothers'.

So, there are my credentials, make of them what you will. What I'm trying to say is that I attempt to remain balanced, and I've been mildly surprised at the number of supporters who after a fourth straight defeat in all competitions, are struggling to cling on to a bit of perspective.

Before moving on, it's important to remember the context in which the Pozzo family took over our club.  They saved us from what was rapidly turning into a very messy end. Whatever Bassini claimed at the time or since, he was running our club into the ground and without the Pozzo family's timely intervention I have severe doubts as to whether we'd still have a team to watch. So, we're better off than we would have been had nothing changed - 5-1 defeats and all.

It quickly became apparent what would happen once the ownership of our club changed. We would be the beneficiaries of a number of loan signings, primarily from Udinese and some from Granada. Forward-wind a month or two and the influx has happened, and how. Even the most clued up of supporters has to have been surprised by the sheer number of players we have inherited. It's been unprecedented.

Most fans will have seen the upside very quickly. A host of decent players arriving at Vicarage Road that we ordinarily wouldn't be in with a sniff of attracting. Most fans will have also seen the pitfalls. How can you create a team from such a disparate bunch of players, all from different backgrounds, all speaking different languages - united only perhaps by a joint lack of prior knowledge of Watford Football Club. And that of course is the exact problem Gianfranco Zola now faces. In charge of one of the biggest squads ever seen in the Championship, there are currently more questions than answers when it comes to assessing how this year will end up for the Hornets.

However. Some things are clear. Firstly, we all of a sudden have some excellent footballers on our books. Abdi, Vydra, Pudil, Foristieri and Chalobah have already shown glimpses of what they are capable of, whilst a number of other players with good reputations are waiting in the wings. Loanees they may be, but the Watford squad is undoubtedly stronger than it has been for some time. This is good news.

Secondly, we're six games into the league season. Six. We've won two of them, lost narrowly in two, been poor in one and been hammered in another. Clearly a mixed bag, but hardly cause for an outbreak of panic. History has shown that patience is usually a virtue when it comes to Managers. They need time, and this has never been more applicable than at Vicarage Road. Zola, new to the club and new to the players he finds himself in charge of faces a big task - of that there is no doubt. There is also no doubt that six games in isn't the time to pass judgement on him and the Pozzo regime. Neither for that matter is six months. If the Pozzo's are serious about making Watford a sustainable Premier League club, and there is no reason to think they aren't, then I'd suggest we're looking at something more like six years...

Of course it's impossible not to be downcast after a run of defeats. It's impossible not to feel that this Watford team is currently (currently being the operative word) that is less than the sum of its parts and Anyone not angered by the performance at derby needs to question their status as a football supporter, but keep an eye on the bigger picture. Be critical, ask questions, make suggestions and argue - of course - that's what makes football great, but I'd urge my fellow fans to keep an eye on the bigger picture and to give it time. We're at the start of something, but it really is the very start. Don't write this new look club off before it has even got going.


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  1. Spot on mate ,cant believe some fans want Zola out already!

  2. Good forward looking analysis. Bassini had no money but apparently has walked away with £10 million. How is it that we are so vulnerable to predators - Petchey, Ashcroft, Bassini? The Pozzos have cash, business sense and a commitment to football. So we should be positive; they are not in it for a quick buck. But they need to understand the culture of the club, its supporters and the community around it. This is what has sustained watford fc in the bad times and propelled us forward in the good. Letting Martin Taylor go was a bad signal. It sent out a message that we were an experiment and nothing is sacred. That's not good. They need to build on solid ground not to have to react to a crisis.Tuesday night was the best football we have played this seasion (save maybe the 1st half against Birmingham). Passing and possession sorted. If it comes right and we start scoring goals again, will this be a vindication of the radical appraoach? I think not. Castles built on sand rarely survive. 16 players in, 13 seeing their future elsewhere is not a solid foundation. The Pozzos need to explain the long-term football and buisiness model; their vision for the Club. They need to be accountable to the town and the supporters for the decisions they take. Unless they are prepared to be transparent about their model we can only guess what they are up to. The bond can easily be broken but it can take a long time to repair.

  3. Not a fan. Doesnt go into any detail in terms of what we are doing wrong. The fact is if Zola doesnt have a good season he will be out. We played too narrow yesterday and some of these Udinese players are very average.

    The New players dont care and the existing players know that they wont be there if theres any success so there isnt anything in it for them.

  4. This time last year people were beginning to get on Dyche's back after a ropey start, and look where we ended up.

    We have to give the new owners, manager and players some time.

    For gawd's sake we even gave Vialli a season!


  5. "We're at the start of something, but it really is the very start"

    The worry for me is that once we do get going we have players heading back to their parent clubs and once again we're at the start with brand new players trying to learn a system and each other.

  6. I did read we might be able to sign some of the loan players...

    Be useful if the main striker could get fit...

  7. I closely follow three clubs; Watford, Arsenal and Rangers. Two of those clubs nearly went under this summer. Both those affected clubs look very different now to how they did twelve months ago, but the fans' reactions to the season starts are remarkably similar.

    Rangers fans are unsettled, just like Watford fans. Rangers fan expect success because they're now in the Scottish Third Division. Watford fans expect success because there's a larger and better squad.

    But both clubs have undergone seismic change over the last year. Both are barely recognisable on the field. Of course, if both teams struggle come the end of the season, it will be justifiable to be disappointed, fans of both clubs need to recognise that seismic change is disruptive and painful before and fruit can come out of it.

    We've not had a great start, but we've had two wins. We've been inconsistent. But let's take a step back, support the team, and give them a chance to gel together. If we're struggling in a couple of months, I'll be concerned, but for now, I think we're just going through the growing pains of a team that is a bit of an unknown quantity.

    Let's see how we go, knowing we won't get there this year, but also remembering just how tight the Championship is. The difference between success and failure is pretty slim in our division. A run of quick wins and you can easily jump halfway up the league, even in the run-up to Easter.