Watford FC have recently seen some big changes around the club, with the Pozzo takeover, the appointment of Gianfranco Zola, and no less than ten new signings so far in the transfer window, the future looks very bright at the moment.
So I will be giving a brief outline of the transfer dealings done so far by the club and my predictions for the season ahead.
First off the two original trialists under Zola were Czech pair Vydra and Pudil.
Matej Vydra, 20, is a versatile forward, being able to play anywhere within the front three. He was signed for Udinese from Banik Ostrava in 2010 for roughly £3.2 Million. He had since made 2 appearances for the club in the league, and struggled with injury on loan at Club Brugge.
I was first cautious about the signing, because of his lack of experience, and his injury record, but since coming to Watford he has been doing well, in three appearances for Watford, he has scored two goals, against Crystal Palace to seal the 3-2 win, and against Birmingham in a 2-0 win.
Next, we have Daniel Pudil, a left sided Czech international who can be utilised in the defense or in the midfield. He had previously played for Genk in Belgium, and made 121 appearances scoring 4 goals, including some vital Champions League match experience with the club.
He then moved to Grenada, a Spanish team owned also by the Pozzo family. He was loaned out to Cesena, where he made 7 appearances scoring once.
He has made two appearances so far for Watford in the campaign, with the manager opting to shuffle the team around more because of the depth of the squad, and has played well so far, and looks rather solid at the back partnering with Doyley, Nosworthy and Taylor.
Later on in the week, it was confirmed that Almen Abdi was to join the squad on trial, the Swiss international midfielder, formerly of Zurich and Le Mans, before joining Udinese in 2010.
Abdi was a bit of a shock loanee, being a squad player at Udinese, and with his ability and experience, looked as if he would be needed there.
He has done well for Watford so far, showing the class and caliber of players that the Pozzo’s are sending us from abroad, scoring twice in three games from central midfield.
Then came the announcement of the signings of Manuel Almunia and Fitz Hall, both free agents after leaving Arsenal and QPR respectively.
Almunia for me is one of the biggest signings of the summer for me, being not only a Watford fan but also a follower of Arsenal, it much reminded me of the Mart Poom deal a few years back. At 35, he is a vastly experienced goalkeeper at many levels, playing for Osasuna, Celta Vigo, Arsenal and West Ham on emergency loan. His best was show at Arsenal, where he made 175 appearances, and had experience, albeit bad, in a Champions League final with them. So far his record at Watford has been fairly decent, averaging one goal conceded per game compared to the teams 1.6 scored, gaining a clean sheet in the process against Birmingham and Wycombe in the cup.
Fitz Hall has yet to appear for Watford due to fitness issues, but is very much experienced in the Championship and Premier League, playing for teams such as Crystal Palace, Wigan, Southampton, Newcastle and QPR.
I think that when he does return to fitness he will proved to be a good signing for the club, and will partner Nyron Nosworthy at the back.
After these two players were confirmed on trial, Ikechi Anya and Steve Leo Beleck were too.
Ikechi Anya, 21, is a Scottish footballer loaned from Grenada. He primarily is a left midfielder but can play in the more advanced winger role.
Playing previously for Wycombe and Northampton, before moving to Sevilla, Anya has been mostly playing in the second tier of Spanish football. He later signed for Grenada, and immediately sent out on loan to Cadiz, where he made 38 appearances, scoring 5 goals.
He has only made one league appearance for Watford so far this season, off the bench, but looks to be a decent squad player, adding much needed depth to the wings.
Steve Leo Beleck, 19, signed from Udinese on loan.He has been likened to Obafemi Martins. He is much the same as Vydra, as he can play anywhere in the front three of the attack. Before he joined up with Watford, he had a season long loan with AEK Athens, scoring 5 in 27.
So far, making two appearances for Watford, much like Anya he looks to be a squad player, with phenomenal pace, he has the impact that many players in our league wouldn’t have off the bench.
Were coming down to our final three signings so far this summer, starting with Alex Geijo, a Swiss born Spanish striker.
He is 29 years old, and seems to be much loved by the Grenada fans, scoring 24 goals in their promotion season into La Liga. He is currently suffering with fitness issues, so he has not made an appearance for Watford yet so far this season.
I do however thing that when he is at his best he is a deadly finisher, a real fox in the box if you will. He could be our lower league tap in king, much like Van Nistleroy, but obviously not as good. Well maybe now he is, but i’m wandering off here.
Back on track!
We signed Geoffrey Bia on loan from Standard Liege. He is a very promising Winger, playing preiously for Charleroi and Standard Liege, and had a short 4 game stint with Wolves on loan in the Premier League.
Also playing two games for Belgium, he adds to the already big international experience in the squad.
And finally, the greatly exeperienced Marco Cassetti, joining on loan from his new club, you guessed it, Udinese! The thirty five year old defender can play anywhere across the back but mainly a right back.
His most famous days were with AS Roma, with whom he spent the last 6 seasons, notching up 143 appearances with the club. He also spent time with Lecce (95 apps), Verona (61 apps) and Lumezzane (50 apps).
Also playing five games for Italy, the late developer did not have much chance to shine between his first game in 2005 and retiring from international football in 2008.
So that wraps up the transfer dealings. Now for my line up, with rules and regulations considered as the team sheet must not contain more that 5 loanees.
Goalkeeper: Almunia, as a free transfer he does not count towards the 5 loanees, and he is leaps and bounds ahead of our reserve keeper Bond.
Defence: Doyley, Hall, Nosworthy, Pudil. I chose Doyley over Cassetti for two reasons, firstly Doyley is a club legend and hes been with us for many years, to drop him now while he is still in his twenties is absurd.
He is also owned by the club, and the only player in the back four who is a loanee is Pudil.
Midfield: Hogg, Eustace, Abdi. Hogg and Eustace were probably two of our best players last season, and with the addition of Loanee Abdi, there is a lot of quality there in the midfield. This now takes our Loanee count up to two.
Forwards: Vydra, Geijo, Murray. Murray is an extremely talented teenage midfield/striker. Last season he netted 7 goals in 22 games since 2010.
Vydra has been a real bright talent for Watford so far, with his two goals helping us to wins.
Geijo looks very talented and can more than likely be our top goal scorer if he returns to fitness soon.
Defenders: Hodgson & Taylor
Midfielders: Buaben & Yeates
Strikers: Iwelumo & Bia
I think that this season we are more than capable with gaining promotion, however its more than likely to come from play-offs, as I do not think we’re as strong as Bolton or Blackburn.
Promotion : Bolton & Blackpool
Playoffs: Watford, Middlesbrough, Birmingham & Leicester/Notts Forrest
Relegation: Burnley, Crystal Palace & Peterborough
So that’s my transfer round up so far, team selection and league predictions done, thanks all for reading.
Until next time guys