Watford FC Predictions 2015-16

 

A summer spending spree and record number of transfer rumours have filled some of the void since May, but now focus finally shifts to the opening game of the 2015-16 Premier League season as Watford travel to Goodison Park to play Everton on August 8.

We got the Forza Watford! team together, as well as From the Rookery End‘s Jon Moonie, and asked them to predict what may or may not happen during the Hornets’ first season back in the Premier League.

Here’s what we thought would happen last season.

Don’t forget to share your predictions with us in the comments below!



Who will win the Hornets’ Player of the Season award?

Jamie Leah: Troy Deeney will take home the award once again, although I’m not entirely sure that Quique Sanchez Flores’ 4-2-3-1 formation will get the best out of him – at least to begin with.

Adam Drury: The signs in pre-season are that Jose Manuel Jurado may be amongst the classiest players anyone will have ever seen in a Watford shirt.

It’s genuinely terrifying to think that we might have our hands on a better version of Almen Abdi, in fact many may say impossible given Abdi’s blatant omnipotent powers, but Jurado may be just that. It feels as though if Jurado exerts his influence on enough games, we’ll earn enough points to survive.

Jon Moonie: The fans will vote for Deeney again, which will see him become the first player to win three Player of the Season awards in a row.

However, the true player of the season, who will go comparatively unnoticed is Sebastian Prodl. The only way he could win the trophy is for Alan Hansen to make a dramatic return to Match of The Day and him spend every Saturday night sining the praise of ‘P-Unit’.

Which player will finish as Watford’s top goal scorer?

JL: I can’t see anyone other than Troy Deeney finishing as Watford’s top goal scorer, particularly as it looks like he’ll be spear-heading the attack in Quique Sanchez Flores’ favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

AD: It’ll take a brave man to bet on anyone bar Deeney given the system we’ll play and the form he takes into this season. Had Flores been inclined to go with two upfront I’d have been tempted to go with Matej Vydra but I fully expect Deeney to lead both the line and the goal-scoring charts at Vicarage Road this year.

JM: Can I change this one to ‘Which player will contribute the most assists this season?’ Odion Ighalo may be the man to put the balls in the back on the net, but it will be Jurado’s crossing and creativity that will give him the opportunities.

Which of the club’s new signings will have the biggest impact?

JL: I’m excited by the arrivals of Steven Berghuis and Jose Manuel Jurado, but I think Sebastian Prodl will make a mark this season – and I’m not just saying that because of his 6 ft 4 in frame!

His experience in both the Bundesliga and Champions League with former club Werder Bremen, as well as the 49 caps he’s won for Austria will stand him in good stead.

AD: Given that I think Jurado will win player of the season I’d obviously say him here too, but I’m also really excited by Etienne Capoue.

He had a big reputation before joining Spurs and I’m hoping his development has only been affected by the dark cloud of doom which seems to hover over the graveyard of European talent at White Hart Lane. Hopefully he can boss games at this level the way Adlene Guedioura did last season.

JM: In a packed Watford midfield, Jurado will be a beacon of flare and jaw dropping (I’m basing this on the fact a Wolves supporting mate of mine saw him a Dundee United and said “the fella at Right Back was useful”

Which player will be the ‘surprise package’?

JL: I thought Almen Abdi would surprise us all and have a injury-free campaign, but that’s already out of the question as it looks like the Swiss midfielder will miss the Hornets’ opening game of the season with a knee injury.

Craig Cathcart should surprise a few when he keeps Gabriele Angella out of the starting line-up.

AD: We’ve now such a good squad, that I find it hard to see where a player coming from nowhere could really get a look in. It may not be a surprise to us, but I’m really hoping that Cathcart can continue where he left off last season and ensure that we rarely field an all-new back four!

He could be someone in the ilk of Scott Dann or Ashley Williams and take to the higher level with ease.

JM: Miguel Layun. Haters are going to hate, but he will harness his twitter followers and always have a good game when we are on telly.

Where will Watford finish in the Premier League?

JL: I recently wrote about how I felt the Pozzo family have set Watford up for Premier League survival, so I’m naturally going to back the Hornets to finish higher that 18th.

It’ll take new head coach Quique Sanchez Flores and a squad that features no less than 10 new signings time to get accustomed to Premier League football, but I think a strong second half of the 2015-16 campaign will see the Vicarage Road outfit finish in 15th place.

AD: I really would be delighted with safety – however it came. I think the season really depends on how successful the recruitment is. If the vast majority prove themselves to be ready for this level, and I think they will, then *hopefully* we can be looking at a safe bottom half finish. I’ll go for 16th.

JM: 15th, which will mean quite a disappointing end to the season as there won’t be a tense final day of the season – which we will really enjoy after the last few seasons.

Watford set up for Premier League stay

 
Watford are well-placed to survive their first season back in the Premier League after a nine-year absence, and that’s primarily down to the club’s ambitious owners, the Pozzo family, writes Jamie Leah.

Ultimately, the Hornets’ two previous top flight campaigns resulted in the same outcome: a bottom-placed finish and relegation back to the Championship.

In 1999-2000 they concluded seven points behind 19th place and 12 points from safety under the direction of Graham Taylor, who had inspired their rise to the First Division in the 1980s.

Despite early wins at Liverpool and at home to Chelsea, the Vicarage Road outfit, who had earned an unlikely promotion via the play-offs, never really looked as though they would maintain their Premier League status.

Aidy Boothroyd guided Watford into the top flight, once again via the play-offs, for the 2006-07 campaign but they quickly found themselves cast adrift once more; Boothroyd’s men finished six points behind 19th place and 10 points from safety, with only five wins to show for themselves.

Watford’s promotion ahead of the 2015-16 season, this time thanks to a second-placed finish, has presented the Pozzo family with an opportunity which they clearly intend to make the most of; the Premier League’s financial health is such that even its lower-ranking clubs can attract sums that the likes of the Italian owners’ other ventures, Udinese and Granada, can only dream of.

A productive pre-season has seen the Pozzos do everything they can to ensure that Quique Sanchez Flores’ side will still be in the top flight come 2016-17 and so far, they’ve given us every reason to think that they will succeed.



Transfers

A lot has been written about the Pozzos’ track-record of developing young, talented players before selling them on to make multi-million pound profits, but the majority of the Hornets’ summer signings don’t really fit with that model.

The additions of Giedrius Arlauskis (27), Valon Behrami (30), Miguel Britos (30), Etienne Capoue (27), Jose Holebas (31), Jurado (29), Allan Nyom (27) and Sebastian Prodl (28) all add quality to a side that is clearly opting for experience over re-sale value at this stage.

And with good reason: the Premier League TV money alone is worth far more to Watford than the players’ resale value in this instance, so it’s clear that the Pozzos’ approach to the transfer market this summer has been a coherent one.

They’re quality signings too: each of the Hornets’ acquisitions, including Steven Berghuis (23), who I’ve not yet mentioned, has played in European competition and just one – Britos – is yet to represent his country at any level.

Most of them – with the exceptions of Behrami and Capoue – will be playing Premier League football for the first time so, in terms of adaptability, there does appear to be an element of risk.

However, when you consider the fact that the quality of players being targeted by the club is such that Watford are now competing with the likes of Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, PSV Eindhoven and Valencia for players’ signatures, it should give fans confidence that the Pozzos’ scouting network will enable the club to avoid relegation.

Many fans, particularly those of other clubs, will point to the Hornets’ lack of home-grown additions, but the Pozzos are naturally reluctant to mortgage their side’s future by paying the overinflated prices currently being demanded for English players.

Bournemouth recently gambled £8 million on unproven full-back Tyrone Mings, who undoubtedly has potential but has made just 56 appearances to date, whereas Watford opted to bring in Jose Holebas, who kept Ashley Cole out of Roma’s starting line-up last season, for an initial £1.8 million. In my opinion, that represents much better value for money.

The club has certainly made more of an impression with its signings this summer than Dominic Foley, Des Lyttle and Mark Williams (who were brought in for the Hornets’ maiden Premier League season in 1999-2000) and, what’s more, the £3.25 million paid for Nathan Ellington in 2007 no longer represents the club’s record transfer outlay; happy days indeed.

Head Coach

Slavisa Jokanovic’s departure has almost been forgotten amidst the flurry of transfer activity at Vicarage Road, but I believe the Pozzos’ decision to replace him with the Quique Sanchez Flores also puts the Hornets in a better position ahead of the upcoming campaign.

Now don’t get me wrong, Jokanovic did an outstanding job last season, guiding Watford to the Premier League with a great deal of pressure on him, but Flores’ CV would have been much more attractive to players who would take some convincing to move to a club that is yet to establish itself in the top flight. I believe the owners knew that too.

Jurado, for instance, who featured in Flores’ Europa League-winning Atletico Madrid side, would have been unlikely to put pen to paper had it not been for the presence of his former coach.

And judging by reports that came out of the team’s recent training camp in Germany, Flores has had a positive impact on the rest of the squad as well.

Ultimately, we’ll never know whether the decision to replace Jokanovic was the correct one, although avoiding relegation this season would negate the need to even ask the question in the future. The early signs are that the appointment of Flores could be a favourable one.

Contracts

As well as bringing in fresh faces, the Pozzos have worked hard to keep hold of last season’s top performers.

New long-term contracts were handed out to Almen Abdi, Gabriele Angella, Craig Cathcart and Troy Deeney, while Matej Vydra finally made his move from Udinese permanent.

The lack of uncertainty regarding key players’ futures will undoubtedly help the squad maintain its focus going into the 2015-16 campaign, and this can only be a good thing.

Vicarage Road

The owners have also invested into the stadium and general match-day experience, which will both maximise revenue and help to keep the more ‘casual’ fans coming through the turnstiles for years to come.




There’s still plenty of work to be done, of course.

In the short-term, Flores must get a team featuring the Premier League’s highest number of new faces to gel, while learning new tactics. But thanks to the efforts of Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, the club is in a great position to achieve something is has never done before: survive in the Premier League.

What do you think? Have the Hornets done everything they can to remain in the top flight come 2016-17? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Jurado joins Watford on a three-year deal

Watford have completed the signing of Jose Manuel Jurado from Spartak Moscow on a three-year contract.

Jurado, an attacking midfielder, scored 14 goals and notched 15 assists during a three-year spell with the Russian Premier League outfit.

The 29-year-old Spaniard began his career with Real Madrid before moving to near-neighbours Atletico for a reported fee of €3 million.

He made a total of 88 appearances for Atleti during a four-year stay and was part of the squad that Quique Sanchez Flores – now the Hornets’ head coach – guided to Europa League glory during the 2009-10 campaign.

Jurado joined fellow countryman Raul at FC Schalke 04 in 2010 for €13 million and netted eight goals in 44 appearances during a tumultuous two seasons in the Bundesliga, which saw him a express his discontent about a lack of playing time via his Twitter account.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Hornets announced the signing of Miguel Britos from Napoli.

Britos, a 30-year-old defender, was part of the deal that saw Udinese’s Allan move to the Naples club.

Spartak Moscow midfielder Jurado to join Watford?

Watford are set to sign Jose Manuel Jurado from Spartak Moscow, according to reports in Russia.

Jurado, an attacking midfielder, scored 14 goals and notched 15 assists during a three-year spell with the Russian Premier League outfit.

The 29-year-old Spaniard began his career with Real Madrid before joining near-neighbours Atletico for a reported fee of €3 million.

He made a total of 88 appearances for Atleti during a four-year stay and was part of the squad that Quique Sanchez Flores – now the Hornets’ head coach – guided to Europa League glory during the 2009-10 campaign.

Jurado was transferred to FC Schalke 04 in 2010 for a fee of €13 million, but after two years and a number of messages posted on Twitter, expressing his discontent at a lack of playing time at the Bundesliga club, he was shipped out to Spartak on an initial one-year loan deal.

Watford set to go ‘Double Dutch’ by bringing in Eredivisie pair

Watford’s summer spending spree is set to continue with the signings of AZ winger Steven Berghuis and Feyenoord midfielder Lex Immers.

Berghuis had been heavily linked with a move to Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven this summer, but reports in the Netherlands now claim that the 23-year-old is set for a £3.5 million transfer to Vicarage Road.

Berghuis, who can play on either side or down the middle, had trials with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before making his name at FC Twente. He notched 11 goals for AZ last season.

The Hornets are also close to completing a deal for Immers, who has netted 35 goals in three seasons at Feyenoord, according to the Daily Mail.

Immers posted a photo of himself, along with the caption ‘On my way!’ on his Instagram account on Wednesday morning, fuelling speculation that a switch to the Premier League is imminent.

UPDATE: The Dutch midfielder added another photo to his Instagram page in which he looked to be undergoing a medical. Was it with the Hornets, perhaps?

Berghuis and Immers will join Etienne Capoue – a club record signing at around £5.7m – Giedrius Arlauskis, Sebastian Prodl, José Holebas, Valon Behrami, Matej Vydra and Allan Nyom as new arrivals at Vicarage Road.

Nyom put pen to paper on a four-year contract on Tuesday having joined from Udinese and will now link up with Quique Sanchez Flores’s squad on their pre-season training camp in Germany.