It has been a fairly chaotic season at Watford so far, who are currently sixth in the Championship with their fourth manager of the season. Slaviša Jokanović took over in early October after three previous managers all came and went in the space of two months, and it’s has been as tough start for him, winning just three of his nine league games in charge. The 5-0 win away to Fulham last Friday night showed signs of a team playing to their potential and that things are likely to change soon.
Before this victory, Watford had lost four on the bounce and were losing ground on the top teams. They moved back into the play-off positions and are now just five points off an automatic promotion spot. It would be hard for any team to create momentum after having so many managers in a short space of time, but things looked to have calmed down and the team can build on the recent victory to form a promotion push in the second half of the season.
Since Giampaolo Pozzo acquired the club in 2012, things have looked up for the Hornets. In his first full campaign the club enjoyed a fantastic season but narrowly missed out on promotion losing in the play-off final to Crystal Palace. Before his ownership, the club endured several years of mid-table mediocrity and financial troubles.
But now the squad has become a lot stronger thanks mainly to additions from Udinese and Granada – Pozzo’s other owned teams. Key players such as Fernando Forestieri, Almen Abdi, Matej Vydra, Gabriele Angella, Juan Carlos Paredes and Ikechi Anya have all come from this route.
Whilst most of these players will be key to Watford’s fortunes this season, Troy Deeney is still the top man at Watford. His hat-trick at Fulham was a reminder of his goalscoring pedigree. This can be the kick-start to both his and Watford’s season, as his goals have been so important over the past couple of years. He managed a very impressive tally of 24 league goals last season in a side that disappointed with a mid-table finish.
His partnership with Vydra a couple of seasons ago was paramount to Watford making the play-off final in 2013, with the pair notching nearly 40 league goals together. This season it looks like they are on the way to getting somewhere close to that figure, both scoring seven each.
The spine of the side looks very strong as well, with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes having ben added on a free transfer following his release from Tottenham. The 33-year-old former Brazilian international has spent the last few seasons playing hardly any games, after falling out of favour with Spurs. He went through an indifferent spell with Spurs, making a number of high profile mistakes but proving a very good shot stopper. While he still looks prone to a mistake or two, he has shown he is a very good goalkeeper at the Championship level.
Paredes has added that extra bit of quality at the back for Watford, following his summer move from Granada. He played every game of Ecuador’s World Cup campaign and will have to continue to impress for Watford to achieve promotion this season.
The Christmas period will be vital to how Watford perform this season. With five games coming in just two weeks against tough opposition, we will begin to tell if they are really capable of sustaining a promotion push. One thing that is for sure is they have the strength in depth to cope with such a demanding run in, perhaps more so than most clubs in the Championship.