Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Pozzo Way or Holloway?

It's a thumbs down from us, Ian. 

“...there comes a time, for making your mind up”
- Bucks Fizz, 1981

Back in 1981, English pop outfit Bucks Fizz were the toast of Europe (sort of). They swept all before them as they stormed to Eurovision Song Contest glory, singing of speeding up, slowing down, hitting the top and playing around, all set to a routine that culminated in Cheryl Baker’s skirt being ripped off (It’s true kids). Thirty years on and Watford Football Club are having their own little dalliance with Europe. Having been purchased by the Pozzo family, Vicarage Road is now home to a cosmopolitan mixture of talent, and the Hornets are starting to attract attention.

More accurately, they are starting to attract criticism.

The loan situation wasn’t one that immediately sat well with Watford supporters. Truth be told, it’s still too early to tell where it will leave us as a club. There remains uncertainty amongst Watford’s own supporters, so it should come as no surprise that those outside Vicarage Road should be inquisitive and sceptical. It started off as expected, a few jibes from opposition supporters (more often than not the wonderfully imaginative “Udinese B” - oh go on, say it again, please...) but after an initial high profile outburst from West Ham fanatic Martin Samuel, all was relatively quiet.

Then something strange happened. Watford started winning. A lot. They became realistic promotion contenders. They became a threat. They became public enemy number one.

Faux bumpkin Ian Holloway became the catalyst for the latest swathe of anti-Watford feeling, complaining on live TV both before and after Watford’s recent fixture with Crystal Palace about the situation at Vicarage Road. The deliberately contrary Adrian Durham of talkSPORT was only to quick to wade in with a few well placed digs in the following days, whilst opposition supporters warmed to their task, taking to the airwaves and the internet to speak out about the growing problem to football that Watford are posing. The strange thing is that whilst the majority are quick to voice their concern and opposition, most seem startlingly unsure of exactly what it is they are so unhappy about.

Well, as Bucks Fizz so eloquently said, there comes a time for making your mind up. That time is now.

“You’re losing your identity...”

Identity. What is identity when it comes to Football Clubs? For me it’s quite simple, quite stark. A Football Club is it’s name. The badge. The shirt. The supporters and the community it serves. Owners, managers and players come and go, they are completely transient. Amongst them are heroes and villains, legends and losers, the unforgettable and the unforgivable. Each and every one of them plays a part in making the club what it is, but no one player, no team or squad provides an identity. That is something else entirely, something long lasting and indelible.

It’s impossible to ignore that the class of 2012/13 has many more new faces than normal, with the future destination of many of them unsure and an unprecedented number on loan. As with any other season however, the team play at Vicarage Road, and they take to the field in the famous yellow shirt with the Hart upon the crest. Z cars is till played over the PA. They are active in the community and continue to welcome families like no other, whilst the supporters continue to love their golden boys. Any initial concerns at whether or not a team comprised of temporary signings would care about their adopted club have long since been banished, hard working, battling displays have been plentiful.
This is a club in the midst of transition, not an identity crisis.

“You’re just a feeder club, you’ve had it when all the loanees go back...”

It’s been established beyond all reasonable doubt that Watford have a lot of players on loan (thanks to all those who continually point this out, it’s nice to know we’re not going mad). It’s therefore fair to assume that if all of those players were to leave Vicarage Road at the end of the season, the squad would be somewhat threadbare. Of course, imagining that this scenario could actually take place is another thing altogether. To suggest it’s a possibility is to do two things. 1) To ignore what the Pozzo family have achieved in football, and 2) To assume that the Pozzo family are daft. I’ll help you out here. The answer to 1) is: A lot. The answer to 2) is: They are not.

After a recent brush with a less than desirable owner, Watford supporters know that blind faith in the top brass is dangerous, so with the Pozzo regime still in its infancy, it would be prudent to reserve total judgement for the time being. This said, the omens are good. Success at Udinese and latterly at Granada illustrate that these guys know what they are doing. They are also in it for the long haul, they are happy playing the long game.  They don’t just achieve success (Champions League for Udinese, promotion to La Liga for extinction threatened Granada), they do it in a sustainable fashion.

Let’s be clear, The Pozzo family want their teams to be successful because this helps them make money. Successful teams are usually filled with successful players, players that can be sold for a profit. It’s a simple premise and there’s no reason to suggest that they want to apply a different business model at Vicarage Road. They want to build a football club that can hold its own, whilst developing high quality players that can eventually be sold on for big money. Not much is certain in football, but it’s pretty obvious they won’t do this at Watford if they simply send all the players back each year. It’s not how they operate, it’s not going to happen.

“All those foreigners mean there is no hope for English talent...”

I like this one. It’s easy. It’s easy because it’s not about opinion or conjecture, it’s about fact. I’m going to give you a list of names. Jonathan Bond. Fitz Hall. Lloyd Doyley. Adam Thompson. Tommie Hoban. Nathaniel Chalobah. John Eustace. Mark Yeates. Jonathan Hogg. Craig Forsyth. Sean Murray. Connor Smith. Troy Deeney. Lee Hodson. I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve twigged by now.

That’s right, they are all British/Irish players who have played for Watford this year, many of them youngsters at the very beginning of their careers with all but Chalobah owned outright by Watford. Indeed, seven of these names came through the Academy at Watford and it’s been a rare occasion where a team in opposition has boasted more academy graduates in their match-day squad.

“All those foreigners mean there is no hope for youngsters...”

Have you learned nothing? See above.

“Why should Watford have all these loans from one club? It’s ridiculous...”

It’s hard to argue that a high number of loans from a single club isn’t a bit strange. It’s certainly not been seen in this country before, and as Ian Holloway was keen to point out again and again and again, clubs can only have a maximum of two players on loan from any one English club. So, yes, I’ll admit, the number of loans from Udinese is, shall we say, unique. There’s an important thing to note here though. It’s perfectly legal. The rules are the same for Watford as they are for every other club. There’s a difference between it being surprising or different to being cheating the system. It’s a level playing field. You think the Pozzo way is going to ruin Watford? Fine, let us worry about that. We’ll cope.  You think the system gives Watford an advantage? Fine, you go and get yourself a legion of loans from abroad, too. There isn’t anything stopping you.

Except there is.

You can’t, can you? Not really.

And this is where we get to the crux of the matter. The complaints and allegations I’ve highlighted above are a bit halfhearted. The people making those statements don’t really mean them, Ian Holloway and Adrian Durham included. What they are actually upset about, what they actually feel is a lot more straightforward. They don’t think it’s fair.

One of the most cringeworthy aspects of Holloway’s pre and post match bleating was his mention of Alec (sic) Ferguson. “What must fantastic people like him at the top of our game think?” mused Holloway, presumably by this stage not realising that he was talking out loud. What does Sir Alex Ferguson think, Ian? He probably thinks that Watford are lucky to have resources afforded them by a clever, successful and wealthy owner, that others don’t have. he probably remembers that Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world on the back of being top of the league when the planet went Premier League crazy. A bit of luck, right place, right time. He probably thinks they are vaguely similar to Manchester City, a club taken over by one of the richest men in the world, the poor relations of Manchester turned into a global superpower overnight. He probably thinks it has some similarities to Abramovich taking over Chelsea, who went from Ken Bates to Billionaires in an instant. None of these clubs earned their access to additional resources, but they’ve got them. It isn’t fair is it? Sir Alex doesn’t care, Ian.

The moral outrage is a smokescreen. The game is in a precarious state, with clubs facing winding up orders and administration with alarming regularity. League clubs are saddling themselves with millions of pounds worth of debt, gambling on getting to the Premier League, where they will then be forced to gamble further still in an attempt to stay there. The football landscape is dominated by mountain after of debt, and where there is none, hugely wealthy owners such as Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour continue to build the least sustainable model of football club humanly possible. Compare this with the Pozzo way. Use an extensive scouting network to find young, promising players. Utilise these players, loan them to partner clubs with a view to getting the clubs promoted. Sell the players when they are successful, reinvest and start the process again. Too simple to work? Have a look at what Udinese and Granada have achieved and come back to me.

So, whilst the world stands by and is spoon fed the ‘best league in the world’, blindly queuing up to pat the English game on the back for attracting the best players in the world to the Premier League whilst the game teeters on the brink, we are to believe it is Watford and the Pozzo family who are the enemy of football. It is they who are subverting the natural order. Of exploiting loopholes, of threatening the fabric of our once great game. I’m pretty sure I know why football is failing, and it isn’t because Watford have signed Almen Abdi, Marco Cassetti and Matej Vydra from Udinese.

The long and the short of it is that thanks to their owners, Watford have a chance of something special. I don’t expect everyone to be delighted by this, as for some bizarre reason not everyone supports Watford, but if you really have a problem with it, I want and expect you to be certain why. It’s time to make your mind up.

It's only fair.

Download the latest podcast via iTunesPlus, get FTRE blog posts sent straight to your inbox. Simply enter your email address in the "Subscribe by Email" box in the right hand column near the top of this page. Or if you're really technical you can use this RSS code.


  1. Beautifully put, something for Holloway to stick in that pipe of his

  2. Good read, now hoping that fans across the championship accept that Watford are on the up and that we've done nothing wrong in the process. It's obvious, when something good happens to someone else you feel a sense of jealousy. We have without a doubt the best owners this club could have, and a competent duo in Duxbury and Nani, who will in the long-run provide Watford FC with success.

  3. Thanks x 2 Anonymous!

    Ed, I think it's important that as Watford supporters we acknowledge that we aren't sure where this journey is going to take us. It currently looks rosy, but in football, who can tell? What I can't stand is people continually telling me what Watford are doing is wrong, without being able to articulate why. I don't have a problem with people being against the Pozzo plan, but is it too much to expect a cohesive argument as to why it is so bad for the game?

    The piece turned into more of a rant than I had hoped, but I wanted to get it off my chest!

    1. While I was reading it I thought 'This sounds Exactly like the speech Michael Douglas made towards the end of the Film The American President' So well done President Mike! Just what we needed.

  4. Good read, but Daniel Pudil is on loan from Granada not Udinese.

  5. Cheers unknown - knew I shouldn't have written it so late...

  6. Holloway also failed to note, and the point hasn't been answered here either, that you can actually loan 4 players from one English club so long as 2 of those players are under 23 at the start of the season. Essentially this means the Football League view younger players as still in development, and thus they don't fall into this idea of an established 'B team'. In the case of our overseas loan signings, the likes of Neuton, Beleck, Vydra, Bia, Forestieri and Battocchio were all under 23 so would meet this criteria. And we've seen from performances that none of them are the finished article, certainly they are not 'better than anything else in world football' as Holloway seemed eager to suggest...

  7. Mike, totally agree, but we are in a much better position than many clubs in our division, we have owners that have already created a sense of stability whilst only having been at the club since the summer. Look at Nottingham Forest for example, onto their 3rd manager of the season already. The Pozzos know what they are doing, and the Pozzos don't fail, it's not what they're about.

    But with the main point on loans, it is simply jealousy, other clubs in this division would love to be in our position...and you can't blame them. If the Pozzos had taken over Derby County for example, us as Watford fans would be feeling that it is unjust. When you are doing well people take note, and will try to knock you down!

  8. Nicely written there, sums up what most of us are feeling. I also wish people would stop harking on about how we're ruining the future of English football by using these foreign loans. Surely, by training daily with higher quality players, the youngsters will become better players themselves? And why are these people so bothered about our youth team? Were we expected to produce a world cup winning squad for the country?

    No doubt any punishment handed to us by the FL for the previous owner's wrongdoings will serve as proof that what we're doing now is against the rules. Afterall, why let facts get in the way of a good story? Ah, ranting late at night is contagious....

  9. Excellently written piece. The fake moral outrage aimed at Watford this week has been quite hilarious not least because you know that both Holloway and Durham would be quite happy chewing at the hands of anyone who came to their club and offered a similar set up.

  10. Leggatts 'orn13 February 2013 at 07:58

    Well considered words. Top marks. I do find it surprising that Holloway seems to have got so much traction this week, 24 hour sports news agenda I suppose. But lets be honest he is an amusing irrelevance, it is not like he hasn't got form stretching back years for spouting total bolleaux.

  11. We all know that if we were mid table or lower and being typically inconsistent, none of these one eyed comments would be getting made. Holloway has been someone who I enjoyed hearing from even if I disagreed as he is passionate and entertaining in good measure. This is just ignorance and jealousy coming from a pretty childish mindset.

    Has anyone mentioned Cardiff in all of this, talking of unsustainable financial models?

  12. Enjoyable read. Personaly I don't care what others think or what their views are it's a free world and they're entitled to them no matter how wide of the mark they are. My concerns are for Watford and Watford only. Let them tell tales, cry and moan at how unfair it all is but the fact is the Pozzo model works, we are benefiting from it and I see know reason based on Udinese & Grenada why it won't be a long term relationship. There are two models for success, buy buy buy and risk crippling a club with mercenary journeymen or our model using the network laid out in the article. I know where I'd prefer us to be and thankfully it's where we are

  13. Perfectly put, I would say the only argument you didn't cover is that of multi club ownership, but again it's easy for us to rebuff and perfectly fine within world football.

  14. Envy will follow success... It always does.....

  15. Excellent Mike. Perhaps you can send this to A D in time for him to digest before his show. We know that most of the tripe he spurts out is to keep ratings high. It is amazing that we have stirred up such a Hornets Nest to get such coverage over more than one day on a national radio station.

    You are correct that we can't predict the future, when could we? I for one, am extremely happy with things at present, living for the now, but also what the long term future may hold. We still play in yelle red and black, we are not saddled with massive debt and hopefully I'll be sitting back in my seat on the East side of the ground in the the not too distant future.

    Keep up the good work Mike, Michael S.

  16. ..and of course Holloway completely forgets that there is another rule/loophole which allows him and Palace to sell his star player to a premiership club at an inflated price, and, horror of horrors, loan him back immediately for the rest of the season. Pot, ketttle, black.

    1. Gianfranco Watudinesada13 February 2013 at 13:20

      An inflated price? United bought him at a steal. But you wouldn't know that as you watch you watch Udin.. sorry, Watford and not Palace.

      In 5 years when Wilf is tearing up the Prem and the Pozzo find another plaything, as the country watches Watford deflate, come back to this article and all pat Mike o the back for his wonderfully one sided, bitter and ultra biased claptrap.

    2. Utd have paid way over the top for POTENTIAL. May well be seen as a steal if he fulfills it down the years. As yet he is still unproven at that level. For Utd's sake let's hope it will be Zaha and not Haha!

    3. Gianfranco Watudinesada14 February 2013 at 11:53

      200 first team games is a bit more than 'potential' Couldn't give a monkeys about United but the lad (barring injury) will succeed. No Palace fans who have watched those 200 games are in any doubt (from the biased ones to the unbiased ones, we've all seen what he can do.)

      Next few years, a wider audience will see what he can do and as an England fan I cant wait for the doubters to eat their words, and they will.

  17. Nice article. What about the joint-ownership factor? Happy with Watford winning the Premiership with this system, less happy with them facing Udinese or Granada in Europe. I have made my mind up that that is the issue.

    As for United being one of the biggest clubs on the planet because they were top as the Premiership took off - the only outright ridiculously misinformed comment in an otherwise well-written piece. Smacks of modern fan. The Munich air disaster yes, Best, Law and Charlton yes, 1992+, no.

  18. Two issues I have:

    1. Losing identity - surely only the fans and those close to the club can really comment on this. I would never presume to know if Leicester's identity has changed under the new owners. In fact, I don't know what Leicester's identity was before the new owners, and I doubt many of their fans would know ours. It is very lazy/arrogant for people from outside to announce on our behalf that our identity has changed.

    2. Young British players - all the points about Watford have been made, so I won't mention them, what really annoys me though is the "if teams do this, what's going to happen to England" nonsense. If our league is being flooded with young Italian / Spanish kids, what's to stop young English kids from going the other way? Are Italy and Spain full? Is there no more room for 18-22yr olds? Does Heathrow only have arrival gates? If England are going to compete against the likes of Spain and Italy, who have much more technically gifted players than us, surely going over there and learning to play like that is hugely more beneficial than learning to lump it to the big man in League 1? Would Matty Whitchelow and Piero Mingoia not have benefitted infinitely more in leagues where people pass it around than at Accrington Stanley? If Sean Murray goes on loan somewhere, would it not be better for him to go to the Spanish Segunda than Coventry? It's the arrogance that the Premier League is the best league and therefore English football is great, so moving abroad is seen as failing that hinders the England team, not the foreigners.

  19. The wealthy owners of Chelsea, Man City and some other premiership clubs spend multi millions in an attempt to buy success, if they get bored and walk away these clubs would rapidly implode. The owners of Watford have a long term plan to build a sustainable and successful club with a mixture of homegrown, academy and loan players because they have the resources and network to do so. The criticism appears to be coming from people connected with clubs that are in a position to do neither.

  20. The other issue that befuddles me is the theory that all these foreigners are coming over here nicking our jobs. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe there is nothing within EU legislation to stop British footballers plying their trade in mainland Europe? In fact if the argument is about developing British footballers, I would strongly argue that one of our failings is that few of our players do in fact experience a different culture, both footballing and social. If you look at all the succesful national teams, most of their players have had experience of playing in a different country.

  21. Great stuff Mike.

    One point to take issue with. You seem to dispute Holloway's reference to "Alec" Ferguson. He was always Alec at Aberdeen, it's only since he joined United (and then perhaps not initially, I can't quite remember) that he became "Alex". Holloway is perhaps just a misunderstood traditionalist and not, as some might have imagined, a halfwit with a microphone.

  22. I am thinking some of my fellow Watford supporters over reaction and over defending to what is happening (shock horror! negative press over what is surely an very un-football way of running things) shows most of us could well realise this isn't the best thing. We've become a cross between a laughing stock and MK Dons and we/you are fighting it with some bizarre Milwall-esque siege mentality that can only further undermine and degrade the legitimacy and integrity the club had.
    But never mind eh?,
    we might get promoted and all the winnings will go into the central pot to be pumped into Udinese's Serie A campaign and we will still get relageted back to the championship in a three sided gorund.

    1. You are not a "fellow Watford supporter" at all - you are a troll.....

  23. I think the other point worth noting is that Holloway, Samuels and Durham would have not be saying a word if a rich owner had paid for the same players and piled on a mountain of unsustainable debt. The jealousy is because we have found a way to bring in those players without the huge costs.

    I suspect Holloway's angst is caused by the fact that the Zaha money will not be his to spend, but merely cover the debts already accumulated by a club that went into administration only a few years ago.

    One other frequent comment I have noticed is that it was most unfair that Sean Dyche was sacked after his efforts last season. Possibly, but that is business. I am reasonably certain he was appropriately compensated for his services, and he landed another job anyway. In practically any walk of life when new owners come in they want to bring in their own men so I, for one, am unsure why football should be seen as exempt from such an approach.

  24. Excellent piece.

    So glad the Pozzo's have come to us.
    Look forward to a bright (yellow) future with them at the helm.

  25. Brilliantly put. I did smile when Mr Holloway said, rather tongue-in-cheek, "I'll go and see if I can get some Barcelona B players on loan...". Be my guest Ian.


  26. Has Adrian Durham seen this? I think he should be told....!

  27. Great read! Everyone knows holloways a c*nt anyway! #yellows

  28. Billiantly put! Get that man a drink!

    It frustrates the hell out of me to hear my club being belittled by all and sundry, but i will just have to train my self to ignore it and enjoy what is happening to my club!

  29. Brilliant! Love it.

  30. Nail hit bang on the head. Only one small point I would take issue with here. Holloway is not a faux bumpkin but a genuine bona fide one.

  31. a great article that sums up everything we all thing, it's just a shame that those who remain ignorant won't be reading it...

  32. Great piece Mike. I love the assumption that Watford are the "B/C-team" in the Pozzo family business. The farking ridiculous money on offer in the Not, Not (sorry old habits) compared to Serie A means that from a purely business point of view, Watford would be the most important business in the Pozzo portfolio. Does this mean that in the event of a promotion the Pozzo's will be shipping Domizzi, Di Natale and Brkic and off to Vicarage Road? No of course not, for any number of footballing, personal and business reasons; but primarily that they will want all of their businesses to succeed and none of their actions so far have shown anything other than this.

    Whilst an interesting situation should arise should pigs fly, erm, I mean Watford qualify for the Champions League (are people really saying that with a straight face?). I suspect the Pozzo's would simply step back and allow the game to be played with no interference, after all, either way one of their clubs will progress and one wont, whatever happens. Should Watford have the opportunity to throw a group game in order that Udinese would progress (and I still can't believe I'm following this through), then this would probably be unfair, but ultimately nothing the governing bodies could do about it. After all, the results of matches have been rigged in the past without two teams being owned by the same man, just look at the 1982 Footballing Anschluss or the match between Liverpool and Debrecen in 2009 (ALLEGEDY).

  33. It doesn't really matter if people whine or if the FA change the rules to prevent it in future ( as they are apparently planning to do ).
    After the summer we should have most of the players who are staying on permanent deals with perhaps a small number of loan players. This season was a bit of a one off in that respect.

  34. Perhaps Watford fans should start complaining about a far more significant loan issue which distorts the fairness of the league - that of loans between clubs in the same division. So, Leicester can loan two players to Huddersfield thus strengthening the Huddersfield squad when it plays against their promotion rivals - but of course those players are ineligible to play against Leicester. If the wannabe comedian at Palace is successful in his alleged pursuit of George Boyd he will, presumably, have no qualms about playing him against the likes of Bristol City & Sheffield Wednesday whilst taking him out of the squad on the last day of the season when they play Peterborough. Indeed, his loans of Dobbie & Phillips mean that he is already committed to field a weaker team when he plays against Brighton & Blackpool respectively.
    Now there's something that great champions of fairness like Holloway & Durham can get behind and which it is within the gift of the Football League to resolve ... or maybe not!

  35. Great piece Mike. I've just listened to AD's show yesterday as he tweeted to say the issue had been debated on air. He had two Watford fans on, one of whom was against the whole Pozzo thing (claiming amongst other things that Watford only have one 1st teamer from the Academy in the squad....sigh), the other who was concerned at the "downgrading" of the academy. I need to tear some hair out...please Watford fans, if you're going to go and talk about the club on Shout Sport, at least understand a little about what you're talking about. I can only hope that AD and the like read a piece like this and get a grip on what's going on at the club. COYH!

  36. Excellent article. A couple of things that seems to get overlooked all the time. Wasn't there a transfer embargo on the club for a lot of the summer transfer window. Perhaps without this some of the "loanees" would have been signed permanently in the first place.
    Why do none of these people who are complaining about the impact of our loan players on the future of English football ever comment on the number of overseas players in the acadamy squads? This has to be a bigger influence on the lack of english players at the top level, rather than our current squad.

  37. The former scribe13 February 2013 at 19:15

    I can hear the hammer landing on the blunt end of the nail there. So well put.

    Like Jethro Holloway, there are aspects of modern football I don't like. Such as managers who have had an agreement that they can have a slice of transfer fees at a former club.

    Gives you the money to buy lots of chips to put on your shoulder.

  38. Very well written but sadly Watford has always been, for whatever reason, the team to knock. Going back many years when I was in the infancy of my support, we were trashed in the press for creating the Family Terrace, or having a celebrity chairman in Elton John when it was just his money that was getting us where we were (ironic, as you have pointed out, with Manchester x 2 and Chelsea!), or the appointment of Graham Taylor who got the team playing the high ball which brought great results, and strangely enough it was then ok for a number of other teams to adopt the same style! The long and the short of it is we have never had the sort of money the bigger teams do, we don't attract big names or big value sponsorship, so we work hard for what we achieve and there is a huge amount of jealousy about it. What we do have is a core of loyal support who have been through the mill over the years, and celebrate the success when it comes. And why the hell not?? Why shouldn't we be allowed that pleasure, and the enjoyment of watching a team playing great football moving up the league, bringing the excitement of a possible promotion? I say, get over yourselves, football pundits and critics alike, Watford could be on their way to bigger and better things, so put that in your pipe and smoke it!! Come on you Horns

  39. Poor persecuted Watford fans.

    Biased tosh this article, you lot need to get over yourselves.

    Holloway was awful for us but he had a point and no matter how you lot spin it, when that loophole is close, and it will be, things will change at the Vicarage.

    And yes, throwing money at clubs like ours and Cardiff etc is no better but your kidding yourselves if you try and deflect the spotlight just so you can pretend what your doing is ok.

    Very very sad

    1. You've misunderstood. We don't feel persecuted. We recognise there are issues that probably need to be addressed. If you've read the article, you'll see that we recognise it's too early to decide if what's happening will ultimately be a good thing or not.

      We're all for sensible debate, it's just tiring to hear lazy, ill thought out criticism. Your point for example - when a stop is put to International loans being seen of transfers. What do you think will happen then? The Pozzo family will just think, uh-oh, we've been rumbled and pull out of Watford and football? Or might they explore other avenues of moving players between clubs?

    2. 'Explore other avenues of moving players between clubs?'

      Are you seriously making this point and asking this question to help argue your case??

      Think its this kind of mentality that is making people despise everything that is going on at you club.

      Also, you say you 'dont feel persecuted' You just have to look at the post above my initial one in the opening line to see thats not true at all. With the exception of maybe Reading and Luton, nobody cared about Watford until firstly, you sacked a manager who, to his credit, left with his dignity in tact which was more than could be said for your club and owners and then secondly, you recruited practically an entire reserve side from a Seria A team to compete in a second tier division.

      You say its tiring to hear 'Lazy, ill though out critiscism' Not as tiring as it is to hear Watford fans put blind faith in their owners and defending them to the hilt whilst not grasping the troubles that this could bring you in the future.

      Pompey fans were in a similar mood a few years back, they even won the FA cup. I reckon about 91 other clubs wont take pleasure in saying 'we told you so' if it goes tits up but you lot keep going to bed at night cuddling your Pozzo action figures and I'm sure all will be fine.

    3. Really cringeworthy input Foxy. A great example of the question posed in the article 'what exactly are you upset about'? Pompey is a great example why the Leicester/Cardiff blow your brains out model is wrong - and why the scout, trial, play and sell model is so right.

      Little reminder on the UK players in last nights 14 starters and subs who came on: Doyley, Nosworthy, Yeates, Forsyth, Anya, Hogg, Chalobah, Deeney - just 8 with 2 more unused subs....

      Good article by the way....

  40. Ian Holloway has it spot on. I want Watford to be a club where the majority of the players are British and not full of foreign mercenaries. You can watch Manchester City if you want that. That's the trouble with some supporters, they would rather have success at the expense of the clubs identity. The Premership is a full of foreign players where you have to look closely at the team sheet to spot a British player. The talented British players are farmed out to Championship sides for regular football and now, with the way things are going, it will end up them playing in League One.

    1. 4 of Blackpool's starting 11 last night were English.

  41. although long, interesting remarks. perhaps we should all be concerned with the worrying trend to pay players more money as clubs make less, rather than attacking those clubs with a chance to be viable businesses that can make a profit.

  42. Great article/post. As an outsider in the US, I'll just say that the new setup somehow doesn't seem that inconsistent with what I took Watford to previously stand for on the pitch -- that is, a side built around young, inexpensive academy players. The new model seems to be more of the same, but it just has an international flair about it now. Will be very interesting to see how all of this ends up. But it has to be better than just another billionaire buying players willy-nilly, right?

  43. I can see why Watford fans are so happy with the current situation and I've read a couple of very articulate posts of this nature outlining why. When it boils down to it, the defence is, 'it's not against the rules'. And despite the well-put arguments of Hornets bloggers, my instinct remains that the situation as is shouldn't be within the rules.

    My first question would be - isn't this just a canny way of bypassing Financial Fair Play restraints? Are Watford paying all of the wages of all of these players, or are they subsidised by the parent clubs?

    André Villas-Boas once floated the idea of having a Chelsea B team playing in the Football League and most people blanched at it. I am not going to say that Watford = Udinese B, as obviously there are still homegrown players in your system. However, if Chelsea were able to have a special relationship with a Championship club and send them a dozen players on loan, wouldn't that be seen to be distorting the competition? What's the difference?

    There's no doubt that the Pozzos have a successful model and as I say, I understand entirely why Watford fans are so happy about it. And yes, it is a less risky strategy for the long-term future of the club than the Leicester / Cardiff high-interest loans and promotion or bust route.

    Probably the fairest thing would be for the same limitations on loanees from foreign clubs to apply as do for domestic loans. So you could name up to five loanees from any club in the world in your 18, rather than five from England and another 13 from Granada, say. Nobody would have any grounds for complaints then.

    I think there were a total of eight loanees in your squad v Ipswich (Cassetti, Chalobah, Ekstrand, Anya, Abdi, Battocchio, Vydra, Gejjo). Standardise the regulations and you could still name five of them, very probably would still be towards the top of the table and nobody could cry foul.

    It's in everyone's interests to see well-run clubs and for 'casino' owners to be driven out of the game, but I just think that the idea of being able to flood a squad with so many loanees isn't right.

  44. Gianfranco Watudinesada30 May 2013 at 14:33

    Not here to gloat but wandering if you guys that thought all your loanees really had Watford at heart still think they will stick around now you have another year in the Championship?

    Holloway did have a point but he's also proved that it doesnt matter if you get your tactics right. Doubt anyone who popped at Holloway a few posts up (the usual tactically inept, comedian, carrot crunching idiot) etc etc jibes are always well used but he showed his class on Monday as did Zola to be fair. Totally gracious and outstanding conduct from a bloke whos just seen a seasons graft end in defeat.

    Thought both sets of fans conducted themselves well inside & out, before and after the game too. Credit to both clubs. Good luck next year, if you can find it in your hearts to wish us the same we'll take it as we'll need it!