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Watford say they won't be completely overhauling their squad this summer
Watford will not be overhauling the squad this summer but will centre the club’s transfer strategy around stability and building on the current core of key players.
The Hornets have made 18 additions to the playing squad this season and at the start of the 2012/13 campaign they made 16 signings, which initially left head coach Gianfranco Zola having to juggle 39 professional players.
The high turnover was aimed at arming Zola with a team capable of securing promotion to the Premier League but many of the players struggled to adapt.
When asked what the focus of Watford's recruitment policy would be this summer, chief executive Scott Duxbury said: “It is about having stability and building on that.
“Many of the players that joined the squad last year will have gained invaluable Championship experience and it's important we build on this.
“Clearly we have to learn from some of the mistakes we have made this season and there are certain players and player profiles which we will look to add to the squad in the summer.
“Like any squad there will be fine tuning and movement but the core of the squad is there and stability is the key word.
“If we do that then we will have a very competitive squad next season.”
Since the Pozzo family took over Watford, several of the club’s acquisitions have come from sister clubs Udinese and Granada.
Duxbury insists the Hornets’transfer policy draws significant benefits from the Italian owners, namely long-term financial stability and a broader knowledge of players.
“The real advantage of the Pozzo ownership is it gives us stability and it gives us access to players we otherwise wouldn’t be able to either get, from a competitive point of view, or perhaps even afford,” Duxbury said.
“It is about their knowledge of players on a worldwide scale and not just from Udinese or Granada.
“If you spend £10m on a player trying to get promoted and it doesn’t work then you are in a difficult position. Our model allows us to build a sustainable squad over time and adapt to the demands of the Championship.”
He continued: “With the knowledge the Pozzo network possesses including the obvious strong connection with Udinese and Granada this gives us information for example on which players are unhappy at their club or which players want a new challenge and which players we could move quickly for and on terms which would suit Watford.
“We don’t just use that knowledge for Udinese and Granada though, for example it was this scouting network which allowed us to sign [Daniel] Tozser.
“It is that kind of knowledge which enables us to sign those kind of players before other clubs and I think that is of huge benefit to us.”
Watford finished third in the Championship last season before missing out on promotion to the Premier League after losing to Crystal Palace in the play-off final.
Despite high expectations at the start of the current campaign, the Golden Boys have failed to keep pace with the league's leading pack and Duxbury admits lessons have been learned.
"We are learning from the mistakes, we are learning from the experiences and it is only a matter of time before we have a squad which has the necessary experience and is very competitive and we will achieve what we want to do," he said.
“We nearly did it in the first season and this season it has been in many cases an unexpected transitional year – learning and gaining experience – and it has been slightly disappointing because we all thought we would push on from last season.
“But there are still huge positives from this season, such as our home form under Sannino, and if we learn and build on top of that then I think there can only be optimism for the season ahead.”
Beppe Sannino’s side are currently nine points away from the last play-off place, albeit with a game in hand.
Duxbury admits it will be a tough task to close the gap in the 11 matches remaining but insists the squad have still not given up hope.
“The play-offs are absolutely our target," he said. "Until it is mathematically impossible, the team will fight until the end.
“Football is strange and anything can happen. We are certainly not giving up on it but we are also not silly, we are realistic.
“It will be tough but stranger things have happened.”
Duxbury's comments were part of an exclusive sit-down interview with the Watford Observer. More of his comments will be uploaded later today.
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