In the third and final instalment of ‘Which promoted club can survive the drop from the Premier League next season series?’ I will look at Watford’s survival chances in the English top-flight.
Watford, just like Bournemouth, were one of the surprise packages in last season’s Championship, finishing second in the table and playing some very attacking, attractive football along the way under Slavisa Jokanovic.
The Serbian was appointed in October of last season and was the team’s fourth boss of the campaign, as a game of managerial musical chairs took place at Vicarage Road. It turned out to be fourth time lucky for the Hornets in appointing the former-Chelsea boss.
The music has started again and Jokanovic has found he is out of the game, after failing to agree personal terms over a new contract with the Watford hierarchy. The 46-year-olds contract expired at the end of May and according to reports he was asking for wages that Watford could not give him, but he claims that he no longer felt wanted by the club.
Watford’s new man in charge is former Atletico Madrid boss Quique Flores, who won the 2010 Europa League with Los Rojiblancos. The 50-year-old’s last job did not turn out that well, as he quit as boss of La Liga side Getafe after just a month and a half, citing personal reasons.
Prior to that he had spent three years in the Middle East managing Al Ahli and Al-Ain winning the Emirates Cup once and the President’s Cup twice.
His managerial career in Europe has been steady, if not spectacular. Flores guided Valencia to two top-four finishes in La Liga, qualifying for the Champions League in his debut season.
In that first season with Los Che he also guided them to the Champions League quarter-finals, where they were defeated by Premier League Chelsea.
His biggest achievement in football remains winning the Europa League with Atleti five years ago. Flores appointment is maybe a slight gamble by the Watford owners, because of the Spaniard’s lack of experience of managing in the Premier League.
However, the appointment of Jokanovic was also a gamble and that paid off. The Hornets owners will be hoping that there is no need to appoint yet another new boss in the near future, as they are now on their fifth boss in the past 12 months.
Last season Watford were a very expansive team and liked to play possession football. Only champions Bournemouth scored more goals than the Hornets 81 last season, as they played some very entertaining football.
A key to their promotion was the form of star striker Troy Deeney, who has been the subject of transfer speculation this summer. The 27-year-old scored 21 times for the Hornets and also collected nine assists last season.
Deeney is the clubs captain and last season became the first Hornets player in the history of the club to score 20 or more goals in three consecutive seasons. He will be one of the players that Premier League defences will have to watch out for next season, if the Hornets manage to keep hold of him that is.
The Hertfordshire club have been relatively quiet so far on the transfer front this summer. They have managed to secure the signing of Austrian defender Sebastian Prodl from Werder Bremen and Lithuania ‘keeper Giedrius Arlauskis from Romanian side Steaua Bucharest though.
However, the Hornets were believed to be close to agreeing a club-record deal to sign Argentinian winger Diego Perotti from Italian side Genoa. The deal looked set to be completed, but the winger apparently turned down the chance of playing in the Premier League.
Watford are the favourites to be relegated from the Premier League next season at odds of 8/11. How the Hornets fare next season will be largely based on how quickly that new boss Flores can get his ideas across and adapt to the English top-flight.
It is difficult to argue with the bookies on this one. On paper Watford look like they could really struggle next season, but like last season they may just defy the odds and stay up.
Can Watford beat the drop next season?