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The Italian Job. Take 2…

Thursday 5 July 2012 by

Crikey. Is everyone OK?

After all, it’s been a pretty chaotic couple of weeks, even by Watford’s madcap standards.

At the time of writing, the pieces are still being put into place after the Pozzo family completed their takeover of our club. It looks increasingly likely that the 2012/13 season will start with a new manager in charge, and it’s seemingly inconceivable that we won’t see at least a smattering of loan signings from Udinese strutting their stuff in a smart new Puma shirt soon. With Italy renowned as a nation with a love for decent food, one can only assume any loanees will approve of the Happy Egg Company.

A fair few details to finalise then, but whilst the great and the good are busy putting together the final pieces of the Watford Football Club jigsaw, what better time to take a breath, review what’s happened and share our hopes and thoughts on the future?

What’s happened?

Perhaps most importantly, we know Laurence Bassini has left the building. The entirety of Bassini’s tenure was a baffling combination of lofty claims and promises, excuses and bizarre behaviour. His apparent inability to talk directly to fans, ever-changing timescales and refusal to disclose the source of his supposed investment served only to fan the flames of cynicism that were ignited upon his arrival.

With hindsight, it’s easy to say that Bassini was obviously not the long term guardian of Watford that he professed to be. The clues were there, of course. For a never published article I trawled through all that Bassini ever said and wrote it down. His statements and claims were never consistent and the way in which he bandied completion dates around for major building works at Vicarage Road was as hilarious as they were unimaginable. If you’re minded to do so, search the Watford Observer site for ‘Laurence Bassini’ and read what he had to say in chronological order. If nothing else, it should help you if ever you want to write the book on ‘How not to run a football club or reveal yourself as slightly daft’.

In truth, the penny didn’t truly drop for many Watford fans until news of the takeover hit the public domain. In the space of nigh on 24 hours, Bassini managed to claim that he had no wish to sell, almost immediately confirmed that he was indeed going to sell, before publicly claiming that the deal was off because he didn’t believe the Pozzo family didn’t have the necessary funds. He also managed to cobble together a statement for the official site bemoaning the fact that neither fans nor the media had given him a chance. Our collective hearts bled.

His erratic performance in the lead up to the takeover was a perfect microcosm of his Watford ownership; contradictory, nonsensical and worrying. With news of staff not being paid and rumours of an outstanding tax bill, Bassini’s legacy and the true state of the Football Club was beginning to become apparent. Fortunately, the Pozzo family remained committed to the cause and the takeover was officially announced on Friday 29 June.

Since their purchase of the club, the Pozzo family have released a welcome statement on the official site, but by far and away their biggest decision is the widely reported one to replace Manager Sean Dyche with Gianfranco Zola. It’s a move that has divided opinion amongst Watford fans and caught the imagination of football fans up and down the Country.

What do we think?

Here at From the Rookery End, we’re relieved the takeover is complete. All the evidence points towards Bassini’s reign having left Watford’s future in very real danger – it’s almost impossible to believe that the club could have continued to operate had he remained in charge. With this in mind the takeover wasn’t just welcome, it was utterly, totally, 100% necessary.

It is within this context that we must view the Pozzo’s decision to bring in their own Manager. I don’t think there will be many Watford fans who aren’t disappointed that Sean Dyche, a man who performed hugely impressively in almost unimaginably trying circumstances, hasn’t been given a chance to continue his work. This said, the Pozzo family rescued our Football Club. It is that simple. With regards to the managerial decision, it’s their way or no way at all. Like it or loathe it, Sean Dyche’s job was part of the price paid for the future of our club.

It seems clear then, that despite this brutal decision, at this stage we should be grateful. At least we have a football club to manage. Add to the mix the Pozzo family’s football pedigree, their obvious experience in the game and their tried and trusted business model (next time Laurence, it might be an idea to try and demonstrate at least one of these attributes) and it’s clear to see why some Hornets fans see the Pozzo’s as a ticket to success and glory. They may well prove to be just that, but as when Laurence Bassini stumbled into town, we have a right to ask questions and to look beneath the surface. It’s more than a right – it’s a responsibility.

Already there is a clear misunderstanding of the Pozzo’s and their footballing philosophy. Chatter on the Internet and social networks is rife with excited conversation about  how much they will spend. The answer of course is very little – the plan is to build with the help of youngsters from Udinese and untried players signed via their global scouting network. There is a wealth of articles on the relative successes of Udinese and Grenada out there – many of which are hugely helpful in getting a good feel for who is now in charge, what they’ve previously achieved, and how.

As supporters, we have a duty to understand and know who is in charge of our club. If we don’t, what right do we have to complain if it all goes Bassini shaped?

With this in mind, here at from the Rookery End, we’re pleased the Pozzo’s are here. Cautiously optimistic even. It won’t stop us asking questions though – talk is cheap, it’s their actions which will ultimately decide how history judges them and how this chapter in Hornets history will end. You’ll hopefully remember the ‘five simple questions’ we had for Laurence Bassini. Expect to see them get another airing soon.

Let’s hope we get some better answers.

Come on You Horns!

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