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.

Vydra return could spark ‘special’ season

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!

Five Things that Should Happen at Vicarage Road this Summer

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I think it’s fair to say that the 2013-14 season fell below our expectations.

Many Watford fans held out hope of a late play-off push but, although there has been noticeable improvement under Giuseppe Sannino, far too many of the problems that plagued the Hornets during Gianfranco Zola’s tenure have yet to be shaken off.

By saying that, I’m not in any way knocking Sannino; the Italian has done an excellent job and achieved exactly what was expected of him when he took over in December.

But as a mid-table finish draws ever closer, focus must now shift to next season where, after learning from previous mistakes, we will undoubtedly be better equipped to make another run at promotion to the Premier League – won’t we?

Here are five things that I think should happen at Vicarage Road this summer if Watford are to successfully negotiate the Championship:

Sign Daniel Tozser to a permanent contract

Speaking of negotiations, a good start would be to sign Hungary international Daniel Tozser to a permanent contract.

The only loanee to really make an impression at Vicarage Road this season, Tozser, who joined on a deal until the end of the season from Serie A side Genoa in January, has filled the Hornets’ ‘problem position’ (also known as the ‘Chalobah role’) to everyone’s satisfaction.

With the loss of Nathaniel Chalobah in the summer as well as the prolonged absence of Almen Abdi in the Watford midfield, Tozser has provided a calming influence in the middle of the park which has only resulted in positivity going forward.

Here’s hoping his good friend Daniel Pudil can convince him to remain a Hornet beyond this season, if he hasn’t done so already.

Recruit in key areas (quality over quantity)

Rather than adopt the (seemingly) hit and hope recruitment policy that I wrote about earlier this season, I’d like to see Watford’s technical director Gianluca Nani add quality rather than quantity this summer.

Sannino’s recent comments (regarding Burnley’s success despite having such a small squad) could indicate that the Watford side is set to be streamlined, however, I believe that the squad needs strengthening in a few key areas.

I think, at the very least, we need to sign a goalkeeper to replace the (probably) outgoing Manuel Almunia, a defender who is good in the air, cover in the wide positions and, of course, a forward.

Talking of forwards…

While a number of fans seem to believe that Matej Vydra will make a triumphant return to Vicarage Road this summer off the back of a counter-productive loan spell at West Bromwich Albion, I simply can’t see it myself.

The Czech Republic international made no secret of his desire to play in the Premier League before his eventual switch to the Baggies last summer and, while he hasn’t set England’s top tier alight since then, I’m sure the soon-to-be out-of-contract forward will continue to generate interest when the current campaign ends.

Watford would welcome back the Championship’s 2012-13 Player of the Season with open arms but should Vydra continue to seek a future away from Vicarage Road, a forward with pace who plays on the shoulders of opposing defenders – a poacher, if you will – is a must.

Reducing number of players coming through the ‘revolving door’ will bring some stability within the squad while I think it’s also important that the Hornets do their business as early as possible, so that the players can have the maximum amount of time to get to know each other during pre-season.

Scott Duxbury seemed to back up those thoughts during a recent interview with the Watford Observer, saying: “Many of the players that joined the squad last year will have gained invaluable Championship experience and it’s important we build on this.

“Clearly we have to learn from some of the mistakes we have made this season and there are certain players and player profiles which we will look to add to the squad in the summer.

“Like any squad there will be fine tuning and movement but the core of the squad is there and stability is the key word.

“If we do that then we will have a very competitive squad next season.

“We are learning from the mistakes, we are learning from the experiences and it is only a matter of time before we have a squad which has the necessary experience and is very competitive and we will achieve what we want to do.”

Keep hold of Troy Deeney

As I’m sure you are all aware, Deeney has scored 20 goals in consecutive seasons in the Championship, a feat that will almost certainly attract the attention of a number of Premier League clubs in the summer.

In my opinion the Hornets must keep hold of one of their stand-out players if they are to stand a chance at winning promotion.

He can be replaced, sure, but let’s not forget that Deeney also counts towards the quota of six homegrown players in a matchday squad.

Watford will be expecting offers for the forward in the summer and head coach Giuseppe Sannino has previously expressed his view that he deserves to play in the top tier.

Not too long ago, the Italian said: “He is a good player and it is normal that he would have the attention of Premier League clubs. In my opinion, he deserves to one day play in the Premier League.”

The recruitment model of the Hornets’ owners, the Pozzo family, is to develop players and then sell at a perceived optimum price and the owners will have a decision to make as to whether they want to try to retain his services for their promotion push next season or sell if a good enough offer is received. Personally, I’d say an offer in the region of £7 million will convince them to sell.

And while I don’t doubt that Deeney is happy at Watford, I get the impression (from reading some of his posts on Instagram and Twitter) that he would bolt for (Premier League) pastures new if the opportunity arose.

You can’t blame a player for wanting to play at the highest level, but a part of me likes to think that we’ve earned Deeney’s loyalty by standing by him during his prison sentence.

Another 20-goal season from the forward would certainly enhance the Hornets’ promotion push during the 2014-15 campaign, and it would also increase the player’s valuation even further. A win-win situation, perhaps?

Have a productive pre-season

Much has been made of the players’ fitness lacking somewhat under Zola, with many fans blaming it for the current trend of conceding late goals, so a full pre-season should give Sannino the chance to eradicate any lingering issues.

After making evident progress since taking over in December last year, the Italian will also be afforded time to get some new ideas across.

He’s stated before that his preferred formation is 4-4-2, but whether Sannino decides to make the switch from 3-5-2 remains to be seen.

Continued off-pitch improvement

This isn’t so much something I hope will happen at Vicarage Road this summer; we’ve already seen evidence that it’s going to happen.

Oh my goodness! We’re going to have a four-sided ground again!

With this gesture the Pozzos will have established themselves, not as the foreign businessmen destroying the ‘soul’ of our club that many outside the club would have them portrayed as, but as our Italian knights in shining armour that most of us inside the club always knew they were.

And it doesn’t stop there; Watford are in discussions with Hertsmere Borough Council regarding the redevelopment of the club’s training ground facilities – which would include a medical centre and rehabilitation pool.

New changing rooms, offices and a gym would also be built as part of the work at London Colney, which is owned by University College London and leased on a long-term basis by the Hornets.

Work has already started on two new ‘stadium-quality’ pitches, costing around £500,000, on the site, which should be completed in time for pre-season.

So while the 2013-14 season has not quite gone to plan on the pitch, the Pozzos have brought much-needed stability to Watford FC and, what’s more, they continue to build the infrastructure around the club in a self-sufficient way whilst chasing promotion to the Premier League.

I think we could be in for some exciting times ahead. Forza Watford!

Is Watford’s recruitment policy hindering progress?

In the midst of yesterday’s deadline-day depression I got a little frustrated.

Watford sent summer-signings Iriney Santos and Diego Fabbrini back overseas – to RCD Mallorca and AC Siena respectively – on loans until the end of the season and, earlier in the window, the Hornets shipped Javier Acuna to Osasuna.

The reason I got frustrated was simply this: if the players signed from abroad are going to ‘come good’ in England, they need to play in England. All three did not have enough time on the pitch and Acuna, in particular, was never really given a chance.

I’m not completely against loaning these players out, but by loaning them to foreign clubs it signifies to me that the management have ‘given up’ on them. In fact, I’d say that it’s unlikely that we’ll see them play another game at Vicarage Road. This made me question the motives behind signing these players in the first place, and that led to the tweet you’ll see below.

As the transfer window slammed shut at 11 o’clock last night it became apparent that Watford had signed Arsenal’s South Korean international forward Park Chu-Young; a somewhat underwhelming addition with more than a hint of ‘panic buy’ (yes, I know he’s on loan) about it.

And that made me question whether the Hornets’ technical director Gianluca Nani – the man in charge player recruitment – actually knows what he’s doing.

I know, thanks to Paolo Tomaselli’s excellent chapter in volume two of Tales From the Vicarage, that Nani is not solely in charge of bringing in players, but I even started to wonder whether Watford’s recruitment was partly to blame for Gianfranco Zola’s resignation in December.

Now, I am fully aware that the Hornets’ connection with Udinese allows them to take advantage of a ‘world-class’ scouting network whilst also reducing the club’s costs, but is the man who signed Roberto Baggio and Pep Guardiola for Brescia – or the Pozzo model in general – really capable of building a squad that will see us ascend to the Premier League?

Nani was central in all of West Ham’s transfer dealings during his time at the Premier League club, responsible for club a record spend of £9 million on Savio and the arrivals of Diego Tristan and David Di Michele. Admittedly, all clubs have had their share of signings that, for whatever reason, do not work out but when you consider that Zola’s predecessor at West Ham – Alan Curbishley – openly criticised Nani for signing players without his ‘input or permission’, the warning light starts to flash.

At the beginning of his 18-month tenure, Zola was asked by the Watford Observer whether he would have autonomy over transfers at Watford.

“First of all there is no separation between me and Gianluca [Nani]. He will look for the players that can fit my system. If I need a player for my system and I can have a better one than I was thinking of, then it is even better,” said the Italian.

“The expertise of Gianluca and the [Pozzo] family’s scouting system will help me because if I have a position which needs filling, then they can provide me with four or five choices rather than maybe my one or two suggestions. That should be the benefit of having a system like this behind you.”

So, did Nani fail Zola in the summer by failing to adequately replace Matej Vydra, Nathaniel Chalobah and the injured Almen Abdi? Or can the Hornets’ season-long slump mainly be attributed to on-pitch issues?

Examining the Italian’s signings during the 2012-13 campaign, Vydra, Abdi and Ikechi Anya have had perhaps the biggest impact, while Fernando Forestieri, Cristian Battocchio, Daniel Pudil and Joel Ekstrand have all proved capable Championship players – I’d say that’s a successful haul.

But on the other hand, there’s an ever-growing list of players that have been brought to Vicarage Road and left again without so much as a whimper.

Jean-Alain Fanchone, Geoffrey Mujangi-Bia, Steve Leo Beleck, Neuton and Alex Geijo (remember them?) had 15 starts between them before leaving for pastures new and the current campaign has seen a number of new arrivals fail to make the grade in a Hornets’ shirt.

The Pozzos’ scouting network and recruitment policy has been crucial in helping Udinese reach the Champions League qualifying round in the last two years, and it also helped Granada retain a place in La Liga following promotion.

And while Nani has brought international-calibre players to Vicarage Road, I can’t help but liken his approach to that of someone panning for gold: eventually the good stuff will shine through, but you’ve got to discard a lot of shit to get to that point.

New arrivals Alexander Merkel, Daniel Tozser, Mathias Ranegie look good on paper, but so did Iriney, Fabbrini and Acuna.

To be honest, I’m more frustrated that the latter three were unloaded before being given time to get properly acquainted with English football, but as the season begins to look more and more like a write-off, will January’s additions be the catalysts needed to turn the Hornets’ season around?

I think that it’s safe to assume that if Park Chu-Young was on a shortlist of ‘four or five choices’ he would have been at the back of current Watford boss Giuseppe Sannino’s mind.

And I’m not saying that out of disrespect to the South Korean forward; a number of attackers were linked to the Hornets throughout January, but – perhaps not due to a lack of trying – it appears Nani made a late dash over the fence at London Colney to ask Arsene Wenger whether he had anyone available.

Clearly options are fairly limited, and while we’re not the type of club that can dish out astronomical wages or go out and pay millions for a player (unless, of course, he fits the ‘project’), from the outside it looks as though Nani ran out of options during the transfer window.

I’m interested to know what fellow Watford supporters think at this point.

I trust the Pozzos and their long-term vision, but is Nani hindering the club’s progress by failing to adequately replace players like Vydra and Chalobah? Or can the Hornets’ season-long slump mainly be attributed to the head-coaching role? I’m sure both have played a part in a miserable season, yet I can’t help but feel that the (seemingly) scattergun approach is an issue we could do without. Let me know what you think via the Forza Watford! Twitter account, my personal Twitter account, or the comments section below.

Edit: Thanks to a conversation with Tales From the Vicarage author Lionel Birnie on Twitter, I’ve learnt a little more about Watford’s recruitment policy and its decision-makers. You can view an extract from the book here.

What we know about new Watford boss Giuseppe Sannino

Since the Pozzo family’s takeover of the club last year, Watford fans have been no strangers to Google Translate and Wikipedia; after all, 14 of the Hornets’ 18 signings last season were imported from overseas and the majority of those had never played in England.

Now, for the first time, we welcome a foreign manager with no previous experience of English football and only have the Internet to gauge what he may – or may not – be like.

Will he be up to the task of reigniting his new side’s promotion hopes? Only time will tell, but it’s fair to say that he will offer something different to his predecessor, Gianfranco Zola. Here’s what we know about new Watford boss Giuseppe Sannino so far.

56-year-old Sannino, born in Ottoviano, near Naples, carved out a 13-year career as a playmaking midfielder in the lower reaches of the Italian football pyramid, with notable stints at Vogherese and AC Fanfulla – with whom he won Serie C’s Coppa Italia.

After hanging up his boots, Sannino embarked on a coaching career in 1990, taking a role as coach of Vogherese Under-17s before moving to a similar position at Pavia in 1992, and then with Monza one year later.

In 1996 he took his first head-coaching role at Eccellenza club Oltrepò, guiding the amateur side to sixth place. After a brief spell as a youth coach at Como, Sannino took the helm at a professional side for the first time; Serie C2 club Biellese, but after a disappointing run of results the Italian was sacked before the season’s end.

He tasted success with FC Südtirol in 1999, guiding the Serie D club to first place in the league, before keeping them in Serie C2 the following season.

After parting company with FC Südtirol, he took charge at Meda, another Serie C2 club, but was dismissed again before the end of the 2001-02 season. In 2002–03 he led Sangiovannese to a mildly successful sixth place finish in Serie C2, but two forgettable stints – at Varese and Cosenza – saw him relieved of his duties.

Sannino’s next job was at Lecco in 2005, where he led the little-known Lombardian outfit to a surprise promotion to Serie C1 in only his second season in charge of the club.

And the success continued as three more consecutive promotions followed: the Italian took Pergocrema from Serie C2 to Serie C1, and then guided Varese from the bottom of Serie C2 to the giddy heights of Serie B. In the club’s first season in Serie B, Sannino guided them to an outstanding fourth place finish and a place in the play-offs for promotion to Serie A.

Despite losing to Padova in the Serie B play-off semi-final, Sannino was rewarded with a two-year contract as head coach of newly-promoted Serie A side Siena, taking over from Antonio Conte for the 2011-12 season after the 42-year-old was poached by Italian giants Juventus.

Sannino wasn’t interested in playing good football during his first taste of the top flight, instead insisting Siena became a ‘humble and hard working side’ in the same mould as Varese. With the solitary aim of staying in the division – and aided by sporting director Giorgio Perinetti – he, somewhat surprisingly, did just that as the Bianconeri finished eight points clear of relegation and made the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia; undoubtedly the Italian’s greatest achievement to date.

With little in the way of ‘star’ players, it was the collective effort and tactical flexibility of Sannino’s side that impressed. Playing 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1 and 3-5-2, the new coach led Siena to some impressive results: a 1-0 triumph over AS Roma, a 0-0 stalemate with Juventus in Turin, a 1-1 draw against Napoli and, in perhaps their best performance of the season, a 4-0 demolition of Lazio.

Sannino’s men became known for some resolute defending. In a system where players were very rarely caught out of position, the Bianconeri conceded just 45 goals; giving them the ninth best defence in Serie A.

They were less confident in attack, which is highlighted by their league worst possession percentage (43.9%) and shots on target per game (3.4) through the first 26 games. However, in this instance at least, this shouldn’t outweigh the huge positives throughout Sannino’s first ‘big’ job.

He signed a two-year contract at Palermo in June 2012, but Rosanero chairman Maurizio Zamparini ended a short-lived experience less than four months later after the Serie A side only took one point from their first three games of the season.

His replacement, Gian Piero Gasperini, did not fare much better and Sannino was rehired in March. Despite an positive string of results (including wins against Inter Milan and Roma), he failed to keep Palermo into the division and was dismissed once more.

The Italian became head coach at Chievo in July, but was dismissed just last month with the Flying Donkeys sat at the foot of the table.

And while the recent number of dismissals will undoubtedly raise eyebrows, it is worth noting that the average tenure at Palermo is just over 100 days. In Sannino’s first stint in charge of the Sicilian side, he simply was not given enough time to imprint his own style of play. During the second, he was commended for some bold tactical decisions and the general consensus in Italy is that he would have kept them up had he been around for the season’s entirety.

His career to date is very much a mixed bag, so what can we expect from the Italian’s reign at Watford?

While Sannino’s appointment is certainly a risky one for the Pozzo family, his dictatorial-like personality will surely shake things up at Vicarage Road in the short term at least. Given the speedy appointment following Gianfranco Zola’s resignation, our Italian owners would have had Sannino on their radar previously, so it’s only right that we have some faith in their superior knowledge of the game.

Personally, I would expect Sannino to make shoring up the Hornets’ defence an immediate priority, whilst also adding more ‘bite’ to the side. However, this is very much an appointment that could go either way and the new man in charge will have to get his ideas across quickly, or risk writing off Watford’s promotion charge for another season.

What do you think of the Hornets’ new manager? Does he sound like a good appointment, or will he struggle to adapt to a different style of play in a new country? Let us know in the comments below.