A Little Bit of History…
Watford seem to buck the idea that stability is a key ingredient of success. We believe that a well-established structure, with a clear strategy for the way forward, is essential if you want to build something that endures. On paper, Watford look like the complete reverse of this logic. In the last 10 years they’ve had sixteen different managerial resigns (14 permanent, two caretaker roles). That would indicate a club in disorder without a long-term plan. But in that same time period, they spent five consecutive seasons in the Premier League and reached an FA Cup final.
Now, after a single season in the EFL Championship, this Hertfordshire club is back for another run in the top tier of English football.
This might be starting to sound repetitive, but the big challenge ahead for Watford is establishing themselves back in the Premier League. Yes, it’s that word again – survival. The boss Xisco Muñoz (below) is relatively new to managing, with The Hornets being just the second club he’s overseen. Previously to arriving at Vicerage Road, he did manage FC Dinamo Tbilisi in the Georgian Erovnuli Liga for a few months, and they won the title under his leadership, all be it in a truncated season due to the Covid pandemic. His term at Watford has so far been successful and his team have impressed on pitch. They scored plenty of goals in the EFL Championship and only conceded 30 all season, the lowest tally in the whole division.
Of course, managers at Watford need to keep one eye over their shoulder. The axe never seems far from dropping. Looking back over the managerial reigns at Watford, there are some worryingly short tenures; Quique Sánchez Flores (12 games), Vladimir Ivić (11 games) and Billy McKinlay (2 games) stand out ominously from the list.
The Season Ahead…
It’s been a busy summer at Watford, with a high number of players both joining and leaving the club. Thirteen players have joined so far, including striker Ashley Fletcher from Middlesbrough and left-back Danny Rose (below) from Tottenham Hotspur. 16 players have left so far, including Carlos Sanchez, Jerome Sinclair and Mamadou M’Baye, who have all been released. No headline grabbing transfers have arrived at the club, but fans will be hoping that a reliable team of solid, professional players will emerge.
Watford will be most peoples choice to be one of the three teams relegated back to the EFL Championship, but their culture of high manager and player turnover has worked for them in the past, and led them to survive in the Premier League before. Of course, it can also lead to disappointment. If Xisco Muñoz can continue to galvanise his deep squad of players, getting the very best out of each one, then Watford could prove many people wrong this season. They’ve done it before.
Location Watford, Hertfordshire
Stadium Vicarage Road (22,200 capacity)
20/21 Final League Position 2nd in the EFL Championship (promoted to the Premier League)
Opening Game of 21/22 Season home to Aston Villa
21/22 Predicted final League Position 15th
There’s always a surprise team in every Premier League season, one that defies the odds stacked against them, and Watford are our pick. It’ll be tough, but this eclectic squad of international talent may just have the talent and togetherness to pull off a few surprises