Watford's Transfer Business: Midfield and Attack

Watford's Transfer Business: Midfield and Attack

Last time out we delved into the summer transfer frenzy occurring at newly promoted Watford by analysing those recruited to stop the goals by manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, and his superiors working behind the scenes at Vicarage Road, the Pozzo family. We now switch our attention further up the field, and look to discover whether those brought to the club can improve on the impressive attacking displays that fired the Hertfordshire outfit to automatic promotion, and maintain the club’s new found status in the Barclays Premier League. In the wake of additions in the mould of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay to the league, Watford’s business has gone relatively unnoticed, receiving nothing but short snippets in the national newspapers. Despite the lack of publicity surrounding the club, notable additions have raised hopes and expectations within the club, with fans eagerly anticipating witnessing their new heroes in action.

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Many have arrived at the club this summer, but the biggest, and the player that possesses the potential to have the most influence on his new side is Frenchman, Etienne Capoue. Tottenham fans reading this are sure to be perplexed at such a claim, but hear me out. The midfield enforcer arrived in England with the weight of expectation on his shoulders, pressure that the player failed to deal with, and ultimately succumbed to at White Hart Lane. Yes Capoue flopped in his first foray into Premier League football, but having had a chance to adapt to the demands of Premier League football, the player has been handed an opportunity to resurrect his career in England. Capoue has proven his ability to compete in a top European league; with the form he exhibited at French side Toulouse enough to earn him a move abroad. His final season on home soil saw the player register an average WhoScored.com rating of 7.53, with Capoue finding the net on 7 occasions over the course of the campaign. From his defensive midfield slot, the player has proven his ability to operate in a box to box role, and perhaps a move to Watford where expectation and the eye of the media is not as overbearing in comparison to his former club, will encourage the player to flourish once more, and dominate the centre of the park as he did in his homeland.

A common theme of Watford’s transfer policy seems to be the introduction of those with no prior experience of the Premier League, with all of Watford’s new defensive additions never previously tasting life on English shores. However, an exception was made for this next star. Valon Behrami will be a name familiar to fans of the English game, as the winger spent time with Watford’s Premier League rivals, West Ham United. At 30 years old and with nine clubs under his belt, the Swiss international may be considered something of a journeyman, and the player brings a wealth of experience to his new side.

Despite appearing in all of his country’s outings at the 2014 World Cup, Behrami was deemed surplus to requirements at former club Napoli, and was shipped off to the Bundesliga to relegation flirters, Hamburg. The winger did enough to secure a move back to England, but his form in previous seasons has been far from impressive. Since the 2009-10 campaign, Behrami has only registered 5 assists, and although it must be noted that the player has been deployed from the full back position on multiple occasions, such a meagre return in 6 years hardly flatters the player, and if he is failing to provide assists, the primary objective of his position, then fans may be forgiven for questioning what the player will bring to the squad. Experience of the league is an asset, but not enough on its own to warrant a place in Watford’s starting 11.

The general consensus amongst English sides is that a natural Spanish speaking winger is a must when building a squad. Watford lacked such a star in their Championship squad, and the manager moved to address this issue in an attempt to comply with the unspoken rule with the acquisition of Spanish attacking midfielder, Jose Manuel Jurado. Most Spanish imports to the Premier League come directly from their homeland, but an interesting fact about Watford’s new man is that he hasn’t played on the Iberian Peninsula for 5 years. Spells in Germany, and more recently Russia, have seen the player test himself across the continent, yet unlike many of his compatriots who quickly establish themselves as stars abroad, Jurado failed to nail down a consistent starting berth last season.  The player made only 10 starts, and his WhoScored.com rating of 6.85 suggested an average campaign for the Spaniard. However, track back to the 2013/14 season, and Jurado exhibited his potential to develop into a star performer. 29 starts resulted in the winger directly contributing to 10 Russian Premier League goals, and when given a consistent run in the side, Jurado does enough to suggest that he can be an invaluable asset. Flores will be hoping that his countryman will explode onto the scene, and if Jurado can do enough to impress his new boss in Watford’s opening games, a consistent run in the starting 11 may see the player prove to be a fine addition to the Hornets Premier League squad.

Watford have brought in a number of exciting players in an attempt to establish themselves in their new division, but not a single star will be greeted with more enthusiasm than Matej Vydra. The former Czech U21 international has established himself as a fan favourite during loan spells from another Pozzo owned club, Udinese, and the Watford faithful will be delighted to see their hero put pen to paper on a permanent deal. His debut season with the club saw a return of 20 goals in only 41 appearances, but it was Watford’s promotion winning campaign that will resonate most strongly with fans. Vydra’s late strike at Brighton and Hove Albion wrapped up the points that would see the Hornet’s regain their top flight status, and the goal propelled Vydra into the folklore of Watford Football Club. Despite his popularity, what cannot be ignored is Vydra’s previous shot at the big time, in which he failed to impress on loan at West Brom in a season sandwiched between his loan spells at his current employers. After impressing in the Championship, Vydra was tipped to star for the Baggies, and set the Premier League alight. Yet Vydra floundered, and 3 goals in 23 appearances blighted the forwards reputation in the English game, and the Czech limped back to Watford to lick his wounds. To face such adversity did not phase the 23 year old, and Vydra fired Watford to promotion, and perhaps in the comfort of more familiar surroundings, the young star will be afforded the opportunity to grow, and prove his worth in one of Europe’s top leagues. Vydra has the Premier League at his feet, and in Watford the player has the chance to convert his Championship form to the elite of English football, and prove he can one day become a Premier League star.

Many will tip the Hornets for relegation this season, and with many succumbing to an instant return to the second tier, fans will fear for their Premier League survival. Look beyond the fear, and those faithful to Watford will be quietly confident of their chances of not only beating the drop, but causing some upsets along the way. Flores and his employers have been ruthlessly efficient during the off season, and depth and quality has been added to almost every position at the club. Of the three promoted sides, there is no doubt that the Hornets have compiled the strongest squad, and after extensive recruitment, the club are arguably at the same level as a number of their fellow early favourites for the drop. For these reasons, I do not believe that Watford will be planning for life back in the football league come May 2016, and will instead be looking to consolidate and build upon their status as a Barclays Premier League side.