Watford’s journey to Premier League stardom was eventually completed following a rousing 2-0 victory away at Brighton towards the end of last season. The images of Matej Vydra wheeling away, with arms extended, towards the travelling supporters during the final moments of the fixture is evidence of a superb business model completing its first phase.
Pozzo dream now a reality
This aforementioned plan was put in place by the Pozzo family, who took over the Hertfordshire outfit in 2012. The Italians not only brought excitement to Vicarage Road but also relief as the Hornets were struggling both on and off the pitch prior to their involvement. A proven track record with Udinese and Granada, promises to improve the partly-dilapidated stadium and the appointment of Gianfranco Zola had ensured overwhelming popularity upon arrival.
A shrewd transfer policy enabled Watford to acquire a vast array of quality footballers from abroad, the quality of which had not been seen since Barnes and Blissett graced the town. Criticism grew as 12 players from the Pozzo’s other two clubs were obtained on season-long loans while Fernando Forestieri arrived on a permanent basis.
That failed to affect the form of the team with the squad gifting the division with some stupendous football as they raced to third place in the Championship, although they could not secure promotion on the final day or in the Play-Off final.
Plethora of managers did not derail promotion push
A succession of managers followed Zola at the helm as Watford’s transformation rapidly continued. A 13th placed finish saw Zola depart, Giuseppe Sannino was relieved of his duties during the following campaign, Oscar Garcia left due to health reasons and the owners seemingly wanted to go in a different direction when Slavisa Jokanovic was concerned. In spite of these drastic changes, the Golden Boys still finished inside the two automatic promotion places and could subsequently edit their plans for the season ahead.
Five managers, including Billy McKinlay’s stint in charge, over the course of three seasons doesn’t exactly suggest success. The current top four in England’s second tier, for example, harbour managers that have been with their respective clubs for a combined total of 13 years.
Quique Sanchez Flores, however, is a different case altogether. The former Zaragoza right-back started coaching Real Madrid's youth team before fruitful spells at Benfica and Atletico Madrid, with whom he won the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup in 2010. Showcasing a superb CV that includes an abundance of top level experience both as a player and a manager, the club might have found a long-term head coach worthy of taking them further forward.
Flores' squad exceeding expectations
Watford have exceeded expectations in the Premier League thus far as they currently reside in 14th place, 11 points distant from the relegation zone and have impressed with an ineffable defensive record that just five teams in the division can better. Ensuring Premiership survival for the first time in the Hornet’s history alongside guiding his team to an FA Cup semi-final has ignited rumours of a potential extension of the Spaniard's current deal, which expires in 2017.
"I don't like to talk about contracts when we are in the most important part of the season.” Said the former Getafe boss before proclaiming that he was “happy and very comfortable” in Herts. “It isn't the time to talk about the contract. We will do that at the end of May with the owner.” Continued Flores.
According to ESPN, he then stated that “the owners and the staff are always in synergy” and that this, to him, was “the most important thing”.
In synergy they might be but you feel that neither manager or owner will not be pressured into accepting anything less than perfection when contract negotiations are underway. Watford are thriving today due to the impeccable planning of the Pozzos and should rightly be under the assumption that a setback, whether that be in the form of a managerial departure or a player’s loss of form, is unlikely to alter the club’s upward curve too drastically in the coming years.
Quique Sanchez Flores has been outstanding as a representative of Watford Football Club but, although the 51-year-old’s departure is not being discussed at this present moment, the Watford ship will continue sailing with or without Flores at the helm due to the sensibility and intelligence of those in charge.