So, aside from being a nice bright Watford coloured graph, what does the above actually tell us. Let’s start at the beginning. It seems that this is the most successful season when you look at the big swathe of yellow on the left hand side. What really happened that season with those signings and how did it change so dramatically, for the worse, the following season? Well remember how fans of the bigger clubs kept asking the question how come little old Watford are able to get these great players and how it wasn’t fair? I didn’t see it like that. All we were doing, bar the odd exception, was taking players from a subset of the Udinese and Granada squads, i.e. those they didn’t need, and sticking them in the Championship. The talent pool wasn’t as big as the one available to those with sugar daddy, oligarch, mega-rich Thai business funded transfer kitties. But it proves what we already knew. What Gianfranco Zola achieved that season, when presented with the throw enough mud and see what sticks approach to put it crudely, is not to be sniffed it. Perhaps easily done so, given how the club have progressed since. No, Zola moulded the mix of Udine and Andalucian “misfits” into a team that achieved a lot more than the so called experts thought they would.
But why didn’t it work again next year? OK, so we managed to keep some of the more successful, imports from our sister clubs. However, having taken the cream of the unwanted crop the previous season, presumably that stream of capable footballers would presumably be running a little drier. And so the Pozzos adjusted the recruitment slightly. Whilst the bulk of the players still came from familiar friends, did the success of the first season mean the Hornets were more complacent in their hiring methods? And after making considered moves in the English transfer market the previous season with early summer moves for experience like Almunia and Fitz Hall, the risk level was surely increased on landing the eternally promising, yet never fulfilled, McGugan and the unproven Reece Brown. A lack of a plan B did for Zola in the Winter of 2013. And whilst Beppe steadied the ship, the recruitment continued to look wobbly. Ranegie, Merkel, Diakite… I’ll stop there.
You learn from your mistakes. What follows on the graph seems to be a normalisation of transfer activity over the next two years. OK, so we’re not back to a massive chunk of yellow, like you might think given lessons learnt and that retrospectively, we know season 3 of the Pozzos was the most successful to that point, followed by statistically our best since the Eighties. But then isn’t every transfer in football a risk? A player could get injured, homesick, not get on with his colleagues, not quite fit the manager’s system, etc, etc… But what has happened is a reduction of those players considered to be a waste of (all that TV!) money, to the point that 2015-16’s wasters made up the smallest percentage yet under the Pozzos. After what proved to be a difficult second season, the Golden Boys’ recruitment has seen them bring in a higher percentage of players with the ability to contribute year on year. Time to go again…
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