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Watford insists Udinese don't control their recruitment policy and Gianfranco Zola has final say
Watford have denied fellow Pozzo-owned club Udinese apply pressure on the Hornets’ recruitment policy and insist Gianfranco Zola has the final decision on all signings.
Udinese owner Gianpaolo Pozzo has no formal role at the Hornets and it is his son Gino who works closely with chief executive Scott Duxbury and technical director Gian Luca Nani.
Gino Pozzo does have excellent knowledge of Udinese’s players and unrivalled contacts at the Serie A club, having held positions at the club in the past.
The majority of Watford’s signings in the last 18 months have come from Udinese or Granada, the two other clubs owned by the Pozzo family.
On the whole it has proved very beneficial but there have been a few players who have failed to make a positive impact and that point was raised at the fans’ forum on Monday night, where the panel consisted of Zola, Duxbury, Nani and non-executive director Stuart Timperley.
One supporter queried whether the Hornets, and particularly Zola, controlled the club’s transfer policy or whether it was imposed on them.
Duxbury replied: “The best way to describe it is that we are independent and as a group we [Zola, Nani, Gino Pozzo and Duxbury] decide which players are needed to benefit the team.
“We have the advantage that we have a good relationship with Udinese and Granada and we decide which players at those clubs would benefit Watford. If the player wants to come and we can reach an agreement, then clearly we have an advantage when trying to get those players.
“But we are not restricted to players from Udinese or Granada. We are looking at players from the UK and the rest of the world but we have the advantage of the relationship with Udinese and Granada. The decision on whether we want those players lies entirely with those at this football club. It would be silly not to utilise that relationship but we are certainly not restricted. It is always our choice and then it is like any other negotiation regarding whether the player will come here.”
When asked how much independence Zola has, Nani added: “We work like a team. We have scouts all around the world and together we get a decision. Sometimes Gianfranco spends 20 hours of a day on his job so he doesn’t always have the time to travel to watch a player. That is my job and the scouting network’s.
“We really trust each other. We try to share opinion together. This year the owner (Gino Pozzo) moved to London so we now have the advantage of his great knowledge of football. We all work like a team.”
The recruitment of a player usually starts with Zola and the Hornets’ hierarchy identifying where the squad needs strengthening. The scouting network and Nani then compile a list of four or five potential signings who could be suitable. Zola will then view DVDs of the targets and potentially watch a player live and then the Italian decides which player he wants.
Zola explained: “In this country you are used to the manager who does everything; he picks the team, gets the players and has to deal with all the agents. The structure at the majority of the bigger clubs in Europe is different. The manager or head coach works with the team.
“Of course the club doesn’t go and buy players by chance, they follow the logic. The club knows I like to play a certain way, I give the club directions and the idea of what I need such as the type of player.
“The good thing about this club is they can give me not one or two choices but four or five choices in that position. So if you play 3-5-2, you need wide players with certain qualities and they will give me four or five choices which other clubs maybe can’t do.
“I am offered a selection of players and then I say ‘I like him’. That is an asset and the know-how has been a big asset at other clubs and it is here. So far it has worked well.”
One fan queried why the Hornets had similar players in the same position, although he refused to name who he was referring to when asked by the panel.
Duxbury replied: “There are a lot of Saturday and then Tuesday games in the Championship and last season there were almost two separate teams playing, so we sat down at the end of the season and were mindful that we needed several players for the one position depending on the formation we were going to play.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We really did think that we had the blend in the squad and the right players for this campaign. It is easy to look back now and say maybe we got that wrong.
“We did build the squad with the number of fixtures in the Championship in mind. It is our squad and we take the responsibility for where we are now.
“We believe in the squad, we believe in the composition and we believe we will achieve success,” the Watford chief executive added.
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