Premier League profile 2015/16: Watford
Premier League newcomers Watford, odds-on at 4/5 for relegation with Coral, have been making their presence felt this summer, and are certainly not shy about their transfer intentions.
Not all of the Hertfordshire club’s bold moves have come off, see ambitious Diego Perorrti and Davide Santon attempts, but the Hornets still have a respectable haul of 10 new recruits so far, and there could be more Pozzo family purchases to come.
Ten arrivals is a lot to ask new boss Quique Sanchez Flores to shape into a fluid side so quickly, yet as far as Premier League survival goes, squad depth can prove crucial, so better to be well-stocked now than require a quick-fix winter window shopping spree later.
Yet the flurry of incomings reflect what could become the Hornets’ downfall…instability. Experienced Flores, the coach tasked with crafting a team from the recent transfers, is himself new to English football, and Watford’s fifth boss in less than a year, which comes with its own issues.
Perhaps the Pozzo family’s most important decision, more vital than any star signing, could be to stand by their man this campaign, as team spirit and unity goes a long way in a relegation scrap.
Getting off to a good start is essential, but the southern side do not meet a fellow freshly promoted foe until October, meaning they have a slew of tough tussles ahead, with Everton, Southampton and Manchester City all to meet in their first month.
Shiny new centre back pair Sebastian Prodl and Miguel Britos, both Bosmans, will be crucial during that baptism of fire, though Flores could field an entirely new backline should he so wish, with full backs Jose Holebas and Alla Nyom recent recruits also required to settle quickly.
Nyom is another purchase from within the Pozzo empire, arriving from Udinese alongside fantastic forward Matej Vydra, who has finally made his loan from the Italian team a permanent affair.
The talented 23-year-old struggled in the top tier previously with West Bromwich Albion, but with Watford will be eager for another crack of the whip in an environment where he is valued so highly. Luckily for Vydra, the pressure is off to an extent, as the Hornets’ top hitman and skipper Troy Deeney should shoulder most of the burden.
Captain and dangerman Deeney just inked a new five-year deal at Vicarage Road, resisting interest from elsewhere, and will be expected to lead the line with gusto to replicate his sensational form from last season. The trio of Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Vydra clocked up a cracking 37 league goals between them in their promotion-winning term, tormenting Championship defences with ease, so the Hornets can not be accused of being a one-man team.
On the wings, Watford also boast strength and threat in depth, with Dutch winger Steven Berhuis one of their most intriguing summer arrivals, to present Ikechi Anya with promising competition, or cover should the Celtic-linked wideman leave.
Berhuis had a brilliant campaign for AZ Alkmaar last term, notching 11 strikes and five assists, making him an exciting prospect at just 23, should he integrate swiftly.
Former West Ham United man Valon Bherami and ex-Tottenham midfield shield Etienne Capoue also both provide options and plenty of steel in the middle of the park, alongside goal threat Almen Abdi, ensuring the Hertfordshire side can set up for a variety of different scenarios.
It looks as though Watford (12/1 for a top 10 finish) have all their bases covered then, though in reality it is tough for promoted clubs to truly prepare for the rigors ahead, no matter how many new faces they may draft in.