Unless, as a Watford fan, you have avoided all forms of communication recently, you will be aware that Matej Vydra has made a triumphant return to Vicarage Road.
The news, which was somewhat surprising, given that the 22-year-old recently told Czech news agency CTK that he harboured hopes of a second spell in England’s top tier, sparked fans into a social media frenzy.
And despite the forward’s counter-productive loan spell with West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, the knock-on effects of Watford capturing their number one summer transfer target could see the Hornets bounce back from an equally disappointing 2013-14 season (I hope I’m not getting too carried away here) to win promotion under the Pozzo family’s stewardship at the third time of asking.
By saying that, I’m not underestimating the competitive nature of the league; if anything it will be tougher this year, but I feel that, by the time August rolls around, Giuseppe Sannino’s side will have the necessary tools to compete for promotion.
Vydra was Watford’s top scorer during the 2012-13 campaign, netting 22 goals in 47 appearances as he helped himself to the Championship’s Player of the Season award and his side to the Championship play-off final.
His form earned him a new five-year contract with parent club Udinese last summer and, after the Czech Republic international expressed his desire to play in England’s top tier, a chance with the Baggies followed.
But the move did not quite work out as planned, however, as Vydra scored just three times in 22 appearances.
The Czech Republic international was the subject of interest from Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United last summer, but although more more top-tier interest seemed unlikely after an underwhelming 2013-14 season, Vydra admitted that he harboured hopes of a permanent switch to the Premier League ahead of the upcoming 2014-15 campaign.
It appears that – for whatever reason – an attractive enough offer of a second spell in the Premier League was not on the table for Vydra this summer, but the knock-on effects of his decision to return to Watford will almost certainly see the Vicarage Road side reap the benefits.
Winning promotion from the Championship is worth an estimated £120 million and Vydra, who has proven he can score lots of goals in the second tier, will probably know by now that the Hornets represent his best chance of becoming a Premier League player once more – a win-win for both parties.
While the player has been given an opportunity to achieve his personal goal, the club have solved the issue of not having a ‘pacey striker’ who can run in behind defences.
Throughout last season fans were crying out for a forward in the same ilk as Vydra, and that gap has been plugged by, well, the ‘pacey striker’ whose boots we were trying to fill in the first place.
Although a lack of goals was not the main issue plaguing the Hornets last season (I’ll get to that in a second), reuniting the 22-year-old with another proven 20-goal forward in Troy Deeney is certainly not going to do any harm (except, perhaps, to opposition defences).
Speaking of Deeney, I recently wrote that keeping him at Watford was one of the ‘five things that should happen at Vicarage Road this summer‘ and while there has undoubtedly been interest in the ex-Walsall man, I feel that Vydra’s return might just encourage him to stick around in order to finish the job they started during the 2012-13 season.
Both the Hornets’ defensive frailties from last season and a tendency to concede late goals, partially due to a lack of fitness, are issues that Vydra will not be able to fix.
However, a couple of experienced, if not overwhelming, defensive additions in Craig Cathcart and Gabriel Tamas and a full pre-season under head coach Sannino have me in an optimistic mood for the season ahead.
Not to mention a return to fitness for the hugely popular duo of Almen Abdi and Fernando Forestieri, the probable return of Daniel Tozser on a permanent basis and a couple of new signings thrown in for good measure.
What do you think? Could Vydra’s return be the start of a another memorable season in the Hornets’ history? Let me know in the comments below.
Can you tell that I can’t wait for the new season to start? Forza Watford!