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Gianfranco Zola insists there will be no interference in Watford's team selection
Gianfranco Zola has stressed he will be in charge when it comes to team selection and stated there is “always space” in the first team for Watford’s young players.
Zola’s appointment as Hornets manager was confirmed on Saturday, following Sean Dyche’s sacking the day before.
His arrival was a result of the Pozzo family’s takeover and the introduction of chief executive Scott Duxbury and technical director Gian Luca Nani, who both worked with Zola at West Ham United.
The Pozzos own Serie A outfit Udinese and since they bought Granada in 2009, the Spanish side has always included a host of loan players from their Italian counterparts.
The family have denied Watford will become a feeder club for Udinese but have stated they do plan to use the Little Zebras’ world-renowned scouting network.
Watford have already taken two players from Granada and Udinese on trial this week but Zola insists there will be no outside interference when it comes to picking his team.
Speaking exclusively to the Watford Observer on Wednesday afternoon, Zola stated: “I work very well with them (Duxbury and Nani) but they do their own jobs and I do mine. I don’t interfere with their jobs and they don’t interfere with mine.
“There is respect and friendship between us and it would never happen, and it has never happened in the past.”
The West Ham position was Zola’s first managerial job and he was appointed by the two men who will be running Watford on a day-to-day basis – Duxbury and Nani.
Zola said: “They are two people who have been good to me and the fact they are here has been very important.”
Zola’s predecessor at West Ham, Alan Curbishley, criticised Duxbury and Nani for selling players over his head and also signing players without his “input or permission”.
When asked by the Watford Observer whether he will have autonomy over transfers at Watford, Zola replied: “First of all there is no separation between me and Gian Luca. He will look for the players that can fit my system. If I need a player for my system and I can have a better one than I was thinking of, then it is even better.
“The expertise of Gian Luca and the family’s scouting system will help me because if I have a position which needs filling, then they can provide me with four or five choices rather than maybe my one or two suggestions. That should be the benefit of having a system like this behind you.”
Udinese’s scouting network and recruitment policy has been crucial in the Italian club reaching the Champions League qualifying round in the last two years. Granada have also retained a place in La Liga following promotion.
This has been achieved while both clubs have remained self sufficient despite having significantly smaller budgets than many of their opponents.
Czech duo Daniel Pudil, who plays for Granada, and Udinese youngster Matej Vydra have been training with Watford earlier this week and it was reported that the pair had signed on season-long loans.
However, Zola stated a decision on the two players had not been made.
Pudil is a left-sided player who can play at full-back or in midfield. He is 26 and only just missed out on Czech Republic’s Euro 2012 squad.
Vydra, 20, is a forward who spent most of last season on the sidelines following a knee ligament injury, but was signed by Udinese for €4m two years ago after an excellent six-month stint at Banik Ostrava, while still a 17-year-old.
Watford are likely to utilise the loan market considering the relationship with Udinese and Granada, but at his press conference on Tuesday evening, Zola was also asked whether he had money to spend on permanent signings.
He replied: “The club will have the backing of the Pozzo family and their experience. Along with their huge experience comes a lot of resources. They probably have one of the best scouting networks in the world so they will use that for Watford as well.
“I have been told the team will be strengthened and don’t forget that we start from a base where the team ended last season in 11th place.
“They will certainly try to make the side better and we will see.”
Zola addressed the media for the first time on Tuesday following just one pre-season training session and said it was too early to decide whether minor tinkering or major surgery was needed.
He said: “We will have to see what the players are like here. I have seen them play before but I would like to judge them on training and seeing them play live.
“After that we will decide what to do. We want to try to make the team stronger and more competitive though.”
Watford’s Harefield Academy is recognised as one of the finest in the country and the club have had an unusually high number of home-grown players make their debut in recent years.
Zola developed a reputation for giving young footballers a chance at West Ham and he hopes to continue that at the Hornets.
He said: “The project is to have good players in the first team and all the time, space available for the young players to come through. That is the idea.
“Therefore, yes I will leave a space for the young players. I like working with young players and I would always leave a space for them.”
Watford’s exceptional work rate and team morale has become a trademark of the club and Zola admitted he was pleasantly surprised with what he saw on the training ground this week.
He said: “I have been surprised, in a positive way, with how good the partnership is in this team.
“The previous staff and manager did a very good job in that sense and it is good to see an environment that is so willing to work and impress.
“From a manager’s point of view, it is great news,” the Hornets new boss added.