Gianfranco Zola reflects on Watford's first half of the season

First published in Sport by , Group Sports Editor

Watford’s head coach has praised his players for turning the doubts at the start of the season into “certainties” after his side reached the halfway point of the campaign back in the play-off zone.

Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest lifted the Hornets back into the top six with 37 points, the club’s highest tally at the midway point of a campaign since 2007/08.

The Forest win may have been a first in three but it continued an upward curve in form for Gianfranco Zola’s men, who have lost just one of their last ten games on the back of an uncertain start to the season that saw them lose seven of their opening 13 matches.

That followed a summer of upheaval at Vicarage Road, with the takeover by the Pozzo family leading to Zola’s appointment in place of now Burnley manager Sean Dyche and an influx of new signings, primarily on loan.

The Italian has also changed the Hornets’ playing style and he has consistently admitted to being surprised at the progress his team have made since the beginning of the season in August.

“That is a thing I pointed out many times considering the difficulties,” Zola said on Monday when he reflected on the first half of the campaign. “We had a lot of doubts and reservations because of the number of players, because of the number of foreigners and because this and because this of that, so we had a lot of things that we were not sure were going to work out but the application and cooperation of the players has been fantastic.

“I’m proud to say they changed all the points that we were unsure of and made them certainties and that is very, very good. The players want to make it work and they’re doing it.”

Asked if there was a game or incident that he regards as a turning point, the Chelsea legend responded: “Huddersfield was the turning point. When we played Huddersfield and won away from home against them [3-2], I think that was the moment in which the team changed the season completely and also the change of system [to 3-5-2 from 4-3-3] has helped a lot in that sense.”

Watford’s improved form over the past two months, in which they have taken 21 points from a possible 30, means they will start 2013 either in, or just outside, the play-off zone and in a position to attack the second half of the campaign in confident mood.

The head coach said: “It’s definitely working in the right direction and we are pleased with that, although as I said before this is a Championship in which you cannot afford to lose attention, to lose focus and concentration because it is a difficult season.

“It is very, very clear in my mind and the players’ minds, the players are doing very well but we are on an improving moment and we are not yet where we want to be.

“We are getting better and better but there is still a lot of work to do so we have to make sure we keep the concentration.”

Comments (14)

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6:28pm Thu 27 Dec 12

Poppet Bear says...

Keep it up my lovelies !!!
Keep it up my lovelies !!! Poppet Bear
  • Score: 0

6:53pm Thu 27 Dec 12

Lloydinio says...

Only downside of going up is season tickets will go up
Only downside of going up is season tickets will go up Lloydinio
  • Score: 0

8:40pm Thu 27 Dec 12

Horns24 says...

So would you rather not have us go up then? I would happily pay more money to watch the best players in the world at the vic.
So would you rather not have us go up then? I would happily pay more money to watch the best players in the world at the vic. Horns24
  • Score: 0

8:48pm Thu 27 Dec 12

aussihornet says...

Not to mention having crowds of over the 15k average needed for the new stand. Weather you think we wouldn't always fill it, you can't not agree we need a new one, pretty lame we've had 3 stands for god knows how long!

Need to keep focus tho, I remember when we were 8 points clear at top this time of season few years back then plummeted!

Keep it up Hornets!
Not to mention having crowds of over the 15k average needed for the new stand. Weather you think we wouldn't always fill it, you can't not agree we need a new one, pretty lame we've had 3 stands for god knows how long! Need to keep focus tho, I remember when we were 8 points clear at top this time of season few years back then plummeted! Keep it up Hornets! aussihornet
  • Score: 0

9:23pm Thu 27 Dec 12

jasonwatford says...

ffs be happy !!!!! doom and gloom mongers !!!
ffs be happy !!!!! doom and gloom mongers !!! jasonwatford
  • Score: 0

10:11pm Thu 27 Dec 12

D.unstable says...

Oh happy days....thank you Pozzo's, thank you Nani and Duxbury, thank you GFZ, thank you players and finally thank you Bassini for getting the f**k away from our club.

This is still very much work in progress, so if we do not do it this year expect us to dominate next year.
Oh happy days....thank you Pozzo's, thank you Nani and Duxbury, thank you GFZ, thank you players and finally thank you Bassini for getting the f**k away from our club. This is still very much work in progress, so if we do not do it this year expect us to dominate next year. D.unstable
  • Score: 0

11:32pm Thu 27 Dec 12

gloryhornet4 says...

Great that other sides in the Championship are moaning WFC have a large loan pool, as if it is unfair. As long as you don't have more than 6 (?) on the pitch, it is allowed, and fairer than others having an expensive squad - if you don't go up, you go in to admin - now that is unfair on the others who run on a budget.
Great that other sides in the Championship are moaning WFC have a large loan pool, as if it is unfair. As long as you don't have more than 6 (?) on the pitch, it is allowed, and fairer than others having an expensive squad - if you don't go up, you go in to admin - now that is unfair on the others who run on a budget. gloryhornet4
  • Score: 0

11:54pm Thu 27 Dec 12

DuffmanWFC says...

Nothing unfair about our loan pool, it doesn't break the rules and its not as if its only us who can do it!
No other championship club has done it this way so when little watford do it it becomes unfair! Well get lost to the likes of Leeds, Leicester, Cardiff, Blackburn, Birmingham etc etc for these clubs have splashed cash like confetti for which so far hasn't worked and now we haven't spent anything they cry and moan like spoilt little children!
Even better when Abdi, Vydra, Pudil, Ekstrand and Forestieri sign as permenant transfers in January as it means the likes of Franchone, Anya, Bottachino and Beleck can get get into the first team squad due to the fact as the rule of 6 stops them at the moment!
So my message to the rest of the Championship is be affraid, be very affraid as we are not yet at full force! And we still have Eustace and Bauban to possibly feature!
It hasn't been so exciting to be a Watford fan for over twenty years so let's enjoy and make the most of it!
Nothing unfair about our loan pool, it doesn't break the rules and its not as if its only us who can do it! No other championship club has done it this way so when little watford do it it becomes unfair! Well get lost to the likes of Leeds, Leicester, Cardiff, Blackburn, Birmingham etc etc for these clubs have splashed cash like confetti for which so far hasn't worked and now we haven't spent anything they cry and moan like spoilt little children! Even better when Abdi, Vydra, Pudil, Ekstrand and Forestieri sign as permenant transfers in January as it means the likes of Franchone, Anya, Bottachino and Beleck can get get into the first team squad due to the fact as the rule of 6 stops them at the moment! So my message to the rest of the Championship is be affraid, be very affraid as we are not yet at full force! And we still have Eustace and Bauban to possibly feature! It hasn't been so exciting to be a Watford fan for over twenty years so let's enjoy and make the most of it! DuffmanWFC
  • Score: 0

7:18am Fri 28 Dec 12

Bringe says...

I imagine processes to put that new stand in place are already underway and therefore it will need filling. Even with promotion it is likely that ST prices would be kept affordable.

You must consider that the Pozzo's recent profits come mostly from player sales and CL qualification, yes gate receipts are important but so is increasing the fan base and outpricing fans is simply not the progressive route they would want to take.
All going well then sooner or later the Vic will just be too small for not so little Watford FC and they will build a bigger venue on the outskirts of town.
I imagine processes to put that new stand in place are already underway and therefore it will need filling. Even with promotion it is likely that ST prices would be kept affordable. You must consider that the Pozzo's recent profits come mostly from player sales and CL qualification, yes gate receipts are important but so is increasing the fan base and outpricing fans is simply not the progressive route they would want to take. All going well then sooner or later the Vic will just be too small for not so little Watford FC and they will build a bigger venue on the outskirts of town. Bringe
  • Score: 0

10:31am Fri 28 Dec 12

Eastsussexhornet says...

Lloydinio wrote:
Only downside of going up is season tickets will go up
You sound like that nosey neighbour looking at next door's new car through the bay window in that advert!
[quote][p][bold]Lloydinio[/bold] wrote: Only downside of going up is season tickets will go up[/p][/quote]You sound like that nosey neighbour looking at next door's new car through the bay window in that advert! Eastsussexhornet
  • Score: 0

10:34am Fri 28 Dec 12

Eastsussexhornet says...

aussihornet wrote:
Not to mention having crowds of over the 15k average needed for the new stand. Weather you think we wouldn't always fill it, you can't not agree we need a new one, pretty lame we've had 3 stands for god knows how long!

Need to keep focus tho, I remember when we were 8 points clear at top this time of season few years back then plummeted!

Keep it up Hornets!
You have the chicken and the egg in the wrong positions. The stand will cost upwards of £ 10 million. We won't get that from additional receipts for donkey's years. It will have to be new investment. However, the higher attendances will justify the investment.
[quote][p][bold]aussihornet[/bold] wrote: Not to mention having crowds of over the 15k average needed for the new stand. Weather you think we wouldn't always fill it, you can't not agree we need a new one, pretty lame we've had 3 stands for god knows how long! Need to keep focus tho, I remember when we were 8 points clear at top this time of season few years back then plummeted! Keep it up Hornets![/p][/quote]You have the chicken and the egg in the wrong positions. The stand will cost upwards of £ 10 million. We won't get that from additional receipts for donkey's years. It will have to be new investment. However, the higher attendances will justify the investment. Eastsussexhornet
  • Score: 0

11:54am Fri 28 Dec 12

jasonwatford says...

Just think it could be worse...we could be blackburn fans who have just appointed a bollywood film star as a coach and shevi singh to coach and pick the team for saturday !!!! what a mess #lovethepozzos
Just think it could be worse...we could be blackburn fans who have just appointed a bollywood film star as a coach and shevi singh to coach and pick the team for saturday !!!! what a mess #lovethepozzos jasonwatford
  • Score: 0

3:42pm Fri 28 Dec 12

SAHornet says...

Lloydinio wrote:
Only downside of going up is season tickets will go up
Unbelievable.....
[quote][p][bold]Lloydinio[/bold] wrote: Only downside of going up is season tickets will go up[/p][/quote]Unbelievable..... SAHornet
  • Score: 0

9:36am Sat 29 Dec 12

Bringe says...

DuffmanWFC wrote:
Nothing unfair about our loan pool, it doesn't break the rules and its not as if its only us who can do it!
No other championship club has done it this way so when little watford do it it becomes unfair! Well get lost to the likes of Leeds, Leicester, Cardiff, Blackburn, Birmingham etc etc for these clubs have splashed cash like confetti for which so far hasn't worked and now we haven't spent anything they cry and moan like spoilt little children!
Even better when Abdi, Vydra, Pudil, Ekstrand and Forestieri sign as permenant transfers in January as it means the likes of Franchone, Anya, Bottachino and Beleck can get get into the first team squad due to the fact as the rule of 6 stops them at the moment!
So my message to the rest of the Championship is be affraid, be very affraid as we are not yet at full force! And we still have Eustace and Bauban to possibly feature!
It hasn't been so exciting to be a Watford fan for over twenty years so let's enjoy and make the most of it!
The rule of 6 does not apply to temporary overseas transfers, only regular loans. The home grown player ruling that says 5 of the 18 man squad must have a minimum 3 years English or Welsh F.A. affiliation is the only thing that can affect us ... Naturally it is probably better not to be seen abusing our position any further than we have but the option is always there.
[quote][p][bold]DuffmanWFC[/bold] wrote: Nothing unfair about our loan pool, it doesn't break the rules and its not as if its only us who can do it! No other championship club has done it this way so when little watford do it it becomes unfair! Well get lost to the likes of Leeds, Leicester, Cardiff, Blackburn, Birmingham etc etc for these clubs have splashed cash like confetti for which so far hasn't worked and now we haven't spent anything they cry and moan like spoilt little children! Even better when Abdi, Vydra, Pudil, Ekstrand and Forestieri sign as permenant transfers in January as it means the likes of Franchone, Anya, Bottachino and Beleck can get get into the first team squad due to the fact as the rule of 6 stops them at the moment! So my message to the rest of the Championship is be affraid, be very affraid as we are not yet at full force! And we still have Eustace and Bauban to possibly feature! It hasn't been so exciting to be a Watford fan for over twenty years so let's enjoy and make the most of it![/p][/quote]The rule of 6 does not apply to temporary overseas transfers, only regular loans. The home grown player ruling that says 5 of the 18 man squad must have a minimum 3 years English or Welsh F.A. affiliation is the only thing that can affect us ... Naturally it is probably better not to be seen abusing our position any further than we have but the option is always there. Bringe
  • Score: 0

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