A criticism I have heard increasingly this summer from a small section of Watford fans, which in truth is starting to grate on me, relates to the Pozzos not spending a penny on transfers since their arrival at Watford. It is ridiculous.
Some supporters it seems want the Pozzos to splash the cash on potential transfer targets this summer.
The additions of international footballers like Matej Vydra, Daniel Tozser and Heurelho Gomes are not enough it seems.
One of the main problems last season was the need for players who know the Championship and English football. That has been addressed this summer as every one of the club’s signings, apart from the pending arrival of Juan Carlos Paredes, have experience of playing in English football’s top two divisions. A box ticked.
Another issue last time around was the number of additions and upheaval to the squad. The club have only made six signings this summer, one of those is Tozser remaining, and the club are only planning another four including Paredes. Another box ticked.
Watford lacked a pacey striker during the 2013/14 season. They struggled in the holding midfield role for a while. They needed a new goalkeeper and several of the club’s defenders left the club. All of those have been addressed. Third box ticked.
So it brings me back to my initial point and the criticism of the Pozzos ‘not spending a penny’ on transfers since they joined the club.
Firstly, why would a club spend money on players if they do not have to? The return of Tozser and Vydra have been via loan agreements with the view to permanent moves and the other signings have been free transfers.
But more importantly, the claim the Pozzos have not spent any money on transfers since they took over Watford is not true either.
Yes the chequebook donning the WFC crest has not been used in negotiations but the likes of Gabriele Angella, Almen Abdi and Fernando Forestieri do not grow on trees, well not as far as I am aware.
Most of the signings from Udinese or Granada have cost the family money at some point. Even those signed on free transfers will still have cost signing on fees and have wages which need paying.
Angella, Abdi, Forestieri, Vydra and Tozser et al are worth millions of pounds in the transfer market. If Abdi had played for a non-Pozzo club and Watford wanted to sign him it would have cost them millions. There are 23 clubs in the Championship and some in the Premier League who would love to have the midfield maestro in their squad.
But he isn’t. He is Watford’s.
The fact he was transferred to Hertfordshire in a deal which did not cost a penny should be of great satisfaction to supporters. Not a criticism of the club’s management.
Would Hornets followers rather have Vydra on loan or not at all next season?
Fulham have just spent several million pounds on Leeds United’s Ross McCormack in a deal which could reach £11m if the club secure promotion and all the clauses are activated. Personally, I’d rather have Vydra on loan for the season and hope his goals fire the club to promotion, which may lead to the deal being made permanent.
If Fulham don’t go up, they will have spent millions on a striker who was unable to recover his price tag. If Watford don’t go up, Vydra finds another club and the Hornets look at alternatives from their large pool of players. But crucially the club remains on a sound financial footing.
The Pozzo model is different. It takes a while to get used to. And as a purist who, in an ideal world, would love to see all players play for their local clubs and grow up supporting those teams, I can understand why it doesn’t sit well with some fans and pundits.
But we don’t live in an ideal world. Football is not fair and the playing field is not balanced. When the Golden Boys narrowly missed out on automatic promotion in 2013 Hull City made a loss of £25.6m that season and it was £30.9m for champions Cardiff City.
In my opinion, that isn’t fair for those who try to be self-sufficient.
Watford have had several financial scares in recent memory and the club’s future is more important than promotion to the Premier League.
The Pozzos are not risking the Hornets’ future and they are still creating a squad capable of challenging for promotion. So why should they spend big in the transfer market?
The players listed above could all have been sold by Udinese. But they weren’t. The Pozzos gave them to Watford for free.
So whilst the Italian family have yet to spend a penny on a signing at the English club, they have given fans a squad worth tens of millions of pounds.
And it is a win-win situation for all parties.
Watford assemble a squad capable of challenging at the top of the table for free, players not part of the Italian club’s plans have the chance to secure regular football, in England, and Udinese are able to reduce their wage bill and limit the risk of unhappy players affecting the morale in their squad.
And for the Pozzos, they boost their chances of securing the lottery win that is Premier League football and the players’ value in more cases than not increases in the process.
Of course sometimes it doesn’t work, but the success rate at Watford has been high so far.
There are question marks; for example why players have been signing for Granada or Udinese before joining Watford on loan. Is it for tax reasons? Or work permits? I’m not sure to be honest but does it matter really come 3pm on a Saturday? Or when your son or daughter go into school on a Monday morning discussing Vydra’s goal at the weekend or Forestieri’s skill?
Watford owner Gino Pozzo has worked tirelessly this summer and landed his top two targets in Vydra and Tozser.
People around the club can not speak highly enough of the Harvard University graduate and the Hornets are reaping the benefit of his knowledge of Italian football and extensive contacts book.
The links with Udinese and Granada means he knows which players at those clubs, and others in Italy and Spain, are unhappy or are not part of the plans at their respective sides.
He uses this knowledge and access to attract and sign players who two years ago would have been out of the club’s reach.
The Hornets will be making a strong push for automatic promotion this season. But if it doesn’t happen, then try to enjoy the ride because I have the feeling it is only a matter of time with the Pozzos in charge.