Saturday, 22 June 2013

So, how was the pudding?

It’s been two months since my last post – two months in which a hell of a lot has happened. If I haven’t said anything about it, it was partly because I didn’t have anything new to add to the deluge of reaction and opinion to the astonishing climax to Watford’s season, and partly because I was simply too damn busy. Sometimes life gets in the way, and you just have to let others get on with the important task of spouting opinionated nonsense about the goings-on at Vicarage Road.

Talking of opinionated nonsense… Back in July, when the Pozzos took over, I wrote this post about the measures they would be judged against by Watford fans (well, by me at any rate). So I thought it might be interesting to revisit it (I haven’t read it since I wrote it) and see how they did.

These were the five key areas I listed:

1) The ground
Improving the embarrassment that is Vicarage Road should be a priority, I said, and as for the shell of the South-West Corner, “I would now expect work to start before Christmas and for it to be finished in time for next season.”

Well, that clearly didn't happen, and even if they started work now, it wouldn't be done by August. On this issue (and this alone, I hasten to add), the Pozzos have done no better than Bassini. Let’s be charitable and say that it’s obviously not as straightforward as it might appear. I now read that the original plans will have to be rethought anyway, as a result of new Premiership regulations which Watford are hoping they’ll need to comply with sooner or later. In the meantime, at least there's still a handy railing for fans to hang flags from.

2) The traditions
No complaints here. ‘Z Cars’ has remained in its rightful place, and there hasn’t been any hint of any Cardiff-type plans to change the club’s colours or identity. I’m not a fan of the new home kit, mind you. Where’s the red?

3) The fans
If the Pozzos want to gain the trust of the fans, they should organise a couple of Fans’ Forums fairly early on, and make sure that key personnel attend.”

They did that, and by all accounts it was well worth the effort. All those who’ve met the people now running the club speak warmly of them (which certainly wasn’t the case with Bassini), and that’s reassuring.

4) The players
“I just want to see evidence of some thinking before the dressing room starts filling up with random foreigners,” I said in July.

Some hope. Soon we had a squad of 40+ professionals, and poor Gianfranco was clearly struggling to work out what to do with them all. The stage was set for a chaotic and disappointing season.

That it didn’t turn out that way is a tribute to Zola’s managerial skills. The management have since more or less admitted that, given the timeframe, their best option was to chuck a bunch of players at him and hope he’d be able to fashion a coherent team from them. And it won’t happen again (not least because of the Football League’s peevish change of the rule on foreign loans). So I’ll let them off.

5) The Watford way
The ultimate litmus test (or "Would GT have done that?” as I put it) – and I reckon the new owners have passed it. If the 2012-13 vintage Watford didn’t feel entirely like the club we know and love, it didn’t feel wrong either. It certainly felt strange watching fluid passing movements leading to spectacular goals, week after week, but that’s something I’m happy to get used to. Above all, it felt as if someone had looked at Watford and thought to themselves, “We can improve on that, without losing the essence of the club.”

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