Beppe Sannino accepts he is under pressure to guide Watford to promotion in the Championship this season but the Hornets head coach says he will embrace those high expectations.
The Italian has had a full pre-season to work with his side and mould a team which he believes can challenge for a place in the Premier League, after the disappointment of finishing 13th last time around.
Ten players have been signed and, despite receiving several transfer offers throughout the summer, the Hornets should line up against Bolton Wanderers tomorrow (Saturday) with their captain Troy Deeney in the starting XI.
Watford have built a very strong squad and, whilst they are not the favourites for promotion, expectation is that they can challenge for a spot in the automatic promotion places.
“I am always under pressure but this is the job,” Sannino said. “I want the pressure because then it gives the players the chance to play with a free mind. The pressure is only on me.”
He continued: “We hope that this season is better for the club but for me the only thing is what happens on the pitch. I will speak to the owners, to the fans and to the journalists about football but for me the most important talking is done on the pitch.
“I know the expectation of the fans and the club, there is high expectation. It is important for me to deflect the expectation and then we need to be able to grow the enthusiasm on the pitch and transfer it to the crowd.
“All the clubs start with zero points and before each season all the teams believe they can win their matches. The speaking is done on the pitch.”
The Hornets’ additions throughout the summer has seen their first-team squad swell to 33 professionals.
Sannino doesn’t believe that is a problem and said he will rotate his side throughout the campaign.
“Football is not tennis, it is a sport about the team,” he explained. “To try to win in the Championship we need everybody in the squad.
“There are 46 league matches and also games in the FA Cup and League Cup. I think the players here are intelligent and if I am right, they will realise that during the season everyone will have time to play.”
Sannino added: “I believe in having one group. We have new players and they are playing with character and with a smile.
“The new players are bringing to the group the right attitude and passion. The players that were here last season are integrated in the right way.
“The first quality I always look for is being a man and I believe there is a good standard in the squad.”
Sannino believes there are six or seven teams which could win the league in addition to Watford and that will lead to a gruelling campaign.
However, it is one he admits he has been looking forward to and says everyone at the club has been waiting for the opening day of the Championship season.
The Hornets head coach had to learn English football on the job last season and when asked what lessons he had learned during the previous campaign, he said: “I don’t want to experience the last few bad performances that we had last season again (when Watford suffered three demoralising defeats in a row).”
A strong crowd is expected for tomorrow’s clash with Bolton.
When Sannino was asked if he had a message for the club’s fans ahead of the new campaign, he simply replied: “I love you. Finish.”