Udinese North London FC: Watford on the rise

December 4, 2012 in Championship

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Ok, so the title is a bit of a cheap shot, sorry Watford fans. About a month ago, some of the other Ballsy Banter writers were debating who might get promoted from the Championship. This in itself made me laugh as most of them don’t usually concern themselves with what happens below the Premier League, I think some of them think that below QPR sits a murky pool of random towns and cities just sloshing around in a puddle. Being the only one of the writers as a fan of a Championship team, I scoffed when Ben Scott suggested that Watford had a good shot at promotion; “yeah, one win in six and a squad twice the size of anyone else’s which Zola can’t handle, good Championship knowledge there, Ben”, I said.

Well, here I sit, head slightly wet from my shower offering a big “I’m sorry” and an offer to buy him a pint at our Christmas drinks to Ben Scott*. Watford have launched themselves into the Championship playoff zone after going unbeaten in seven games, winning five of them. The calls of “calm down everyone” have begun from Zola, but everyone in that “everything is North of here” town is getting a bit excited.

Watford had a rather unexciting start to the season on the pitch considering how exciting it was off it. The Pozzo family, who also own Udinese, bought Watford and decided to replace manager Sean Dyche with Gianfranco Zola. Dyche was clearly very unfortunate to lose his job considering the job he did last season, but the new owners made no secret of the fact that they wanted their own man in. Soon after, Udinese began shipping over player after player on loan to Watford (nine at the time of writing alongside five more loans from other clubs), and as the season began, this looked like a mistake. The team looked like the strangers they were, but gradually, they have found their feet. A couple of the loan players have especially stood out; Fernando Foresteri, for example, is simply far too good for this league, but unfortunately, he has taken a page from the Cristiano Ronaldo/Gareth Bale/Luis Suarez book of falling over dramatically. Still, he is a class above most in the rest of the league. Alongside Foresteri, Matej Vydra has hit eight goals and appears to be a strong, powerful centre forward (it’s also worth noting that the “not on loan from Udinese” Troy Deeney has also hit eight goals so far).

Watford are beginning to scare teams. They are scoring goals for fun, their unbeaten run has including two 4-1 wins and a 6-1. The team look solid at the back, dynamic going forward and quick on either wing. In his managerial career, Zola has never really had a style that people assume he will play. At West Ham, it was mostly just “try and play nice football then capitulate at the back”, but he appears to have learned from his mistakes and settled on the idea that a team is built from the back with flair in the middle and up front. Do Watford have enough to go up? Well, the easy answer is that it’s too soon to tell. The league is still incredibly tight, but Watford are currently the one team no one wants to come up against. If they can keep instilling that fear into the opposition then there is no reason to suggest they couldn’t be in the promotion picture come April.

*Christmas drinks pint offer cannot be exchanged for any other girly drink, alcopop or sexual favours.