It’s been a huge journey for Watford over the last few years; play-off heartbreak, promotion and success in the Premier League. The transition at Watford Football Club has been a working progress for four years now, as the club celebrate the Pozzo family’s four-year anniversary of their ownership.
The Hornets have been working under the ownership of Gino Pozzo for four years to the day, and it’s been a journey that can only be described as a success.
The start of the Pozzo era
Pozzo took the reins from former Watford owner, Laurence Bassini, to the relief of the fans. Since then, the Italian has built the club up to a side that has held its place in the top division of English football with confidence, and of course with financial stability.
Before linking arms with Watford, Pozzo was the owner of Spanish club, Granada, and following the disappointment of Bassini’s reign, fans questioned the possible outcome of Pozzo’s era, as a virtually unknown man stood at the doorstep with the keys to the club. It was not practical perhaps for the fans to have had an insight of the portfolio that Pozzo possessed – an impressive one at that – the Italian moved Granada from an unknown club in the fourth division in Spanish football, to regular customers in La Liga, competing alongside the likes of Global giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Pozzo continued his success in football ownership with Watford, as in the second year of his appointment, the club earned themselves a spot at Wembley for the Championship play-off finals. Unfortunately, the Hornets buffered on the big stage, falling 1-0 to Crystal Palace at the vital moment.
Onwards and upwards - without Quique
The heartbreak of missing out of promotion did not loom over the heads of Pozzo’s club, as the season after, the club achieved their biggest goal, in securing a spot in the Premier League. Now, the Hornets sit relatively comfortably in the league, as they finished thirteenth last season, mainly thanks to the remarkable work of the recently dismissed, Quique Sanchez Flores.
The Spaniard left his mark in Watford, marching his team to the FA Cup semi-final and finishing mid-table in the top division. Questions will be asked about Pozzo’s decision to discard Flores, as the charismatic manager departed from his role at Watford.
There have been eight different head coaches in Pozzo’s era, the fans will be hoping that Walter Mazzarri will not join the queue of Watford managerial rejects.
The dismissal of Flores has certainly not dampened the ambition and direction of the club, as they have recently rejected £65m’s worth of bids for Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.
Deeney and Ighalo were pivotal parts of Watford’s success last season, the duo found the back of the net 28 times last season between them, and are evidently hugely regarded at the club, as Pozzo rejected such massive offers for the front two. One of the clubs in interest were Premier League champions, Leicester City.
Fresh sources of inspiration
The foxes’ ‘rags to riches’ campaign saw them rocket up the table from relegation survivors to champions of England, following the appointment of former Chelsea boss, Claudio Ranieri.
It would not be wrong for a club like Watford to be studying the recent success of Leicester ahead of the new season, as foxes backed up the claim that ‘anything is possible in the Premier League’. Keeping hold of key players is one thing Watford must do if they are to build upon the success of last season, the Hornets look safe in that department so far.
It will be interesting to see just how far Pozzo’s club can go under the guidance of Mazzarri, can Pozzo create a legacy at the club by continuing to move in positive direction? We will soon see, but for now, here’s to four years of the alluring charm of Gino Pozzo at Watford.