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What Watford’s promotion means for Udinese and the Pozzo family



Until recently, Giampaolo Pozzo was far from a well-known name in England, despite the fact that he was already the owner of teams in Spain and Italy, nations home to two of the biggest leagues in football. That changed in June 2012 when he purchased Watford FC. During the first season under Pozzo’s ownership, Watford had a very successful run, and were a late penalty away from promotion to the premier league. The next season was not nearly as successful and the Hornets ended 2013-14 in 13th place. Fortunately for the Hertfordshire side, the 2014-15 season was a great success and they found themselves earning automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Choosing favorites

Watford’s promotion could mean a big decision for Pozzo. His Spanish side, Granada, finished in 17th place last season and narrowly avoided relegation. In fact, since the 2011-12 season, Granada has finished 17th, 15th, 15th, and 17th. Comparably, Pozzo’s Italian squad Udinese finished in 16th this past season. Udinese’s form over the last few seasons has been more promising than Granada’s, finishing an impressive 5th in 2012-13 before dropping to 13th during the next campaign.

Going simply off finishing positions, there is no clear choice for which team Pozzo should treat as his primary focus. It isn’t too hard to imagine Watford finishing around 16th or 17th this next season as is common for recently promoted teams (if they fortunately avoid the dreaded quick return to the championship). Since there is no clear frontrunner for which team will finish highest in their respective tables, there must be another factor that determines which team should get the most focus, time, and money from Pozzo.

TV Money

 In recent years, the amount of money Premier League teams have made from TV is unmatched anywhere in Europe, or, indeed, the world. It is almost absurd to compare the amount of money earned in England from TV to that of Spain and Italy. If Granada had finished in 3rd place in the 2013-14 season, and earned same amount that Valencia, who actually finished 3rd, gained from TV revenue, Pozzo would’ve earned 48 million euros instead of 18 million. In comparison, 3rd place in the Premier League (Chelsea) earned close to 113 million euros. In fact, Cardiff, the bottom side earned 74.5 million euros. Italy has similar financial conditions with only the top three teams (Juventus, Inter, and AC Milan) earning more than Cardiff earned in 2013-14. If Pozzo places his focus on Watford, and they close out the transfer window with a few big signings, it would be conceivable for Watford to finish 15th or higher (Leicester managed 14th). Using TV money figures from 2013-14, that would mean around 86 million euros for Watford, compared to 29.4 million if Udinese finished in the same place in Serie A, or 18 million if Granada finished 15th (or even last) in La Liga.

What can Watford do?

It’s clear that the most profitable thing for Pozzo to do is to make Watford’s success his primary concern. Each season they remain in the premiership means a significant amount of cash in his pocket. Watford has not been slacking so this window, permanently bringing in Matej Vydra who has had success at the club in the past (although he was not super effective in the Premier League for West Brom), as well as strengthening the squad with signings like Etienne Capoue from Tottenham and Valon Behrami from Hamburger SV. Surprisingly all of the Hornets’ moves so far have been permanent signings compared to the loans they have traditional relied on in the past few seasons. Troy Deeney has been a star for Watford in the championship and can hopefully carry his success into the Premier League. All in all, Watford has a relatively strong side forming as the start of the season approaches. However, it might be in Pozzo’s best interest to loan a few star players from Granada to Watford. Granada’s success would mean a lot less financially than Watford’s and that is a decision that needs to be discussed.

What about Udinese?

Granada have had little success under Pozzo’s ownership and even without any players moving away from the club, it’s likely they will be relegated in the next few seasons. On the other hand, Udinese have had success in Serie A in the last five years, despite a poor couple of finishes recently. Additionally, Pozzo has owned Granada since 2009 compared to Udinese, which he bought in 1986. On top of that, he was born in Udine, so it is unlikely that he would put the Italian side on the back-burner. Pozzo has a decision to make, will he opt for the English side that can bring him financial success and has potential to become a permanent fixture in the premiership for the foreseeable future, or will he stick with his hometown club through their recent underachievement? Only time will tell.

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Watford castaway Steven Berghuis on fire in Netherlands with Feyenoord

The Dutchman has found his feet at Feyenoord and Watford might wish they gave him a chance.



Photo: Getty Images

In July 2015 Watford beat off competition from all over Europe to sign Steven Berghuis. The attacker arrived from AZ Alkmaar in a deal reported by BBC Sport to be in the region of £4.6 million.

He was Watford’s 10th signing of the 2015 summer and that depth of competition stifled the Dutchman’s progress. Berghuis simply never got a good run of games at Watford. He featured in just nine Premier League matches for the Hornets, failing to score a single goal.

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores suggested Berghuis’ training performances were behind his struggles. He was quoted by the Watford Observer as stating:

“Maybe some players in training are thinking that it is very easy to make Watford’s list. Maybe that is because we are humble team.

“But it is very difficult to choose every player because everyone wants to be in the in the first XI and the 18.

“So when a player is not on the list they need to think about what we need if they want to go on the list.”

Berghuis could not find a way into the team with Flores not playing a system that suited him out wide. In terms of playing as a striker, the Dutch talent was never going to budge Troy Deeney or Odion Ighalo from their lofty perches during that campaign.

Flores was not a fan, and his replacement Walter Mazzarri had a similar viewpoint. Berghuis left for Feyenoord on loan the following summer, with Watford fans never seeing the best of the Dutchman.

ALMELO, NETHERLANDS – SEPTEMBER 09: Steven Berghuis of Feyenoord celebrates scoring his teams first goal of the game during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Heracles Almelo and Feyenoord Rotterdam held at Polman Stadion on September 9, 2017 in Almelo, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Now Watford must be wishing they still had the player on their books. Berghuis has been on fire for Feyenoord this season. He has been the star at Rotterdam throughout 2017-18. The 26-year-old has scored 17 goals this season in 35 games. Berghuis has established himself as a regular at Feyenoord after joining permanently in the summer. His form in Rotterdam has even seen him earn international caps for the Netherlands.

Watford have had a good season in the Premier League, despite the wobble after Marco Silva’s near-switch to Everton. However, it is fair to wonder how good Berghuis could have been at Watford if given the chance to thrive in the first-team.

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Stoke City

Stoke 0-0 Watford: Three talking points from the Bet365

Martyn Cooke



There were plenty of fresh faces in the dugout at the Bet365 Stadium on Wednesday evening as Stoke City and Watford played out an uninspiring goalless draw.

Paul Lambert was taking charge of his second game for the hosts, looking to build on the victory against Huddersfield Town ten days earlier, whilst Javi Gracia made his second managerial appearance for the visitors.

However, there was little for either manager to get too excited about during the ninety minutes with the game fizzling out to become a poor spectacle.

The point keeps Stoke and Watford clear of the relegation zone, for now, but both teams will need to improve in the coming weeks if they are to secure survival.

Here we look at three talking points from Stoke City versus Watford…

This relegation scrap isn’t going to be pretty

With Manchester City currently waltzing their way to the Premier League title the attention of football fans and the media has now been refocused on battle for survival.

The bottom half of the table is so tight that only five points separate Swansea City in 19th place from Bournemouth in 10th and almost a dozen clubs are nervously looking over their shoulders.

However, if this contest is anything to go by, it is clear that this relegation scrap is not going to be pretty.

The game was a dour spectacle with plenty of effort but a total lack of quality. At times it felt like you were watching a match in the park on a Sunday morning with neither side able to string together two passes or build any sort of momentum.

Clear goal scoring opportunities were few and far between and there was a absence of creativity, composure or innovation from both teams.
The Premier League likes to proclaim that it is the ‘best league in the world’, but there will be plenty more games like this in the battle for survival as clubs desperately scramble for points.

Lambert needs to find a balance between attack and defence

Under the management of Mark Hughes, Stoke City had the worst defensive record of any top-flight team in Europe and were conceding an average of two goals per game.

Paul Lambert has moved quickly to address these defensive frailties and be will be delighted that the team have kept two clean sheets in his first two games in charge of the Potters.

Under the Scotsman, Stoke are now more organised, harder to beat and have a new found resilience that bodes well for their battle for survival.

However, on Wednesday evening this defensive solidarity was undermined by a lack of quality in the final third.

Goals win games and Stoke simply were not able to create enough chances to secure the three points, much to the frustration of the home supporters. Barring Xherdan Shaqiri’s second half strike, Watford goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis had little to do.

Lambert should take the plaudits for finding an immediate solution to Stoke’s defensive issues but he needs to get the right balance between attack and defence if he is to successfully guide the club to safety.

A solid start for Javi Gracia

The managerial merry-go-round has been in full flow at Watford this month with Marco Silva dismissed and replaced by the little-known figure of Javi Gracia.

The 47-year-old was handed a trip to The Potteries for his second game in charge of The Hornets and he will have been relatively content with a draw to start his reign.

Gracia made only two notable changes to the team, recalling Troy Deeney to the starting line-up and handing Gerard Deulofeu his debut, whilst setting up his side to stifle the hosts.

In fact, the visitors were arguably the better team on the night but struggled to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities.

Watford have struggled to pick up points on their travels this season so a draw at the Bet365 Stadium, regardless of how dour the contest, is a good result.

Only time will tell whether Gracia is the right man to guide The Hornets to safety, but this was certainly a positive result and something that he can build on in the coming weeks.

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Can Javi Gracia succeed at Watford where so many have previously failed?



Javi Gracia
Photo: Reuters

There were mixed reactions on Sunday morning when Watford announced the sudden departure of popular manager Marco Silva from the club.

In the early part of the season, Silva transformed the Hornets from relegation battlers to European candidates with a mixture of positive attacking football and shrewd signings.

The club’s away form was particularly impressive, with convincing wins over Southampton, Newcastle United and Swansea, as well as defeating Arsenal at home.

Richarlison arrived from Fluminense and immediately set the Premier League alight, with Kiko Femenia, Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah also enjoying strong starts.

If it wasn’t for a serious knee injury suffered in September, Chalobah would surely have gone on to be one of the stars of Watford’s season, with the ex-Chelsea midfielder already having achieved England honours.

Former Derby midfielder Hughes also impressed before he suffered injury, having scored in consecutive games against West Ham and Newcastle.

Watford conceded plenty, though, and defence has been an issue all season. Nonetheless, the huge number of goals scored meant that Watford looked set to establish themselves as a secure top half outfit.

That all changed in October, when Everton sacked Ronald Koeman and quickly identified Silva as their replacement.

The Portuguese remained quiet on rumours linking him away from the club although, crucially, he never made a concrete statement that he wanted to stay.

One of the reasons Watford gave for Silva’s sacking was “the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival”, which they clearly believed was a major factor in the club’s downturn in form – they have only won three games in 13 since that approach in mid-November.

After Silva’s sacking, Watford quickly acted, bringing in former Malaga coach Javi Gracia as his replacement.

The Spaniard, who signed a 18 month contract, has gained a reputation for taking points off big teams, with one of his most famous results being a win over Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Gracia’s Malaga went unbeaten against Real Madrid home and away in the 2015/16 season, and also beat Atletico, recording consecutive top ten finishes from 2014/15.

When Malaga were struggling at the foot of La Liga earlier this season, many fans were calling for Gracia to return to the post he held until May 2016, before he joined Russian giants Rubin Kazan.

His defensive coaching is sound, a quality which he will need to employ on a Watford side who have shipped plenty of goals this season.

Only Stoke in 17th have conceded more goals than the Hornets.

He also speaks good English, meaning he will not need a translator – something which Walter Mazzarri consistently used when talking to his players and the press, to the disappointment of the Watford board.

Gracia is entering a club which is not known for sticking with managers, and he has never stayed at a club longer than two years, but his track record in terms of results is positive and if he can get off to a good start, Watford could finally be set for a spell of managerial stability in the Premier League.

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