Saturday, 1 September 2012

Pondering the Pozzos

We regularly have people on the FTRE podcast to add to the views and passions of Jon, Jason and Mike and we love having them on the blog as well. Below is such a piece by Alex Delaney. Alex won our recent Zola prize and as a Journalism student he asked if he could contribute. We were more than happy to post his pondering on the Pozzo family.

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We hope to have more from Alex in the future and from you too.

Watching the Football League Show on the BBC a couple of weeks ago after Watford’s opening day victory over Crystal Palace, I couldn’t help but take in and think about pundit Leroy Rosenior’s comments that Watford fans were feeling ‘uneasy’ about gaining loads of loan players from the new owners’ fellow clubs, Udinese and Granada.

Yes, on one hand it does mean that some of Watford’s younger players might not get as much of a look in, however, it does mean we can get in quality players which offers us a better chance of success and it is far from the end for Watford’s youth players.

Two good, contrasting examples of youngsters at Watford are Sean Murray and Gavin Massey. Murray was given a run in the team last year and proved to be good enough to play at a time when we weren’t exactly running short of midfielders. He survived the change in managers and under Zola is still a regular in the team at the age of 18. Gavin Massey on the other hand moved to Colchester last week. Both he and Murray had reportedly attracted attention from big clubs in the Premier League a few years ago. Massey’s Watford career consisted of 9 substitute appearances under two different mangers, with no goals; he also had three separate loan spells at lower league clubs in which he managed 4 goals in 31 matches.

For me, this represents Massey receiving a chance. I didn’t see any of the matches Massey played in on loan at Yeovil or Colchester, however any striker who steps down a level should be averaging more than a goal every 8 games. The games I did see of Massey at Watford, he seemed willing to run but didn’t  make a significant impact in any of the games, hence why Watford have now let him go I would imagine.  

Since Massey’s departure, in an interview with the East Anglian Daily Times, he said there ‘wasn’t the same opportunities as there was before’ for Watford’s younger players. I think the case of Murray proves him wrong, along with the case of Lee Hodson, Jonathan Hogg and Connor Smith, all of whom are young players who have played at least a part in the current league campaign. Also, Murray has been given a new 5 year contract as reward for his performances, proving that if you’re a good enough player at Watford you will play a part no matter what nationality or age you are.

Another common view point is that Watford are now just a feeder club to Italian giants Udinese. This is yet another point of no concern to me. It is in the Pozzo’s interest for Watford to become a Premier League team; as it was in their interests for Granada to become a La Liga team, which they now are. It is clear that of the 8 loan players received most of them look like very good players. At the time of writing, we have scored seven goals in all competitions, five of which have been scored by loan players. This proves that they must have at least some quality.

Another positive spin on the whole takeover is that it seems Laurence Bassini had left us in a very bad shape so the Pozzo’s are putting us in a better position than we were in both on and off the field with minimum cost to the club. Our wage bill was one of the lowest in the division and I assume a lot of the players received are having their wages paid for by Udinese, which means our wage bill will remain low.

We are in a similar place to where Granada were when they were taken over by the Pozzo family in 2009 and they are now in their second season in La Liga. It is also clear that the Pozzo’s aren’t in it for a ‘quick quid’ as they have owned Udinese since 1986 when they were a Serie B side; they now regularly qualify for the Champions League.

My thoughts are that the Pozzo’s are sending us good players, a lot of whom have international experience, in order to get us promoted this or next year and then they will start to look at more long term plans. Chief executive, Scott Duxbury said in a recent interview that the stadium will be developed when it is being filled and that will only be achieved with success on the field. That is what the loanees have been brought in to achieve.

Before the new owners came in there wasn’t much hope for promotion and there wasn’t a huge fear of relegation, it was all getting a bit stale. Now though there seems to be a real opportunity of playing exciting, attacking football and climbing back into the promised land of the Premier League under Gianfranco Zola. After Gianluca Vialli’s first Italian revolution failed in 2001, maybe it will be a case of second time lucky. FORZA WATFORD!

Alex Delaney

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