It’s not just Ben Manga that Watford brought to Vicarage Road when they appointed him as Technical Director in December – they also acquired the services of many of his key support staff.

Manga was instrumental in taking Eintracht Frankfurt to new heights as, with the help of influential signings that he recommended, they won the Europa League in 2021/22 and thus qualified for the Champions League.

While he may have been the figurehead of one of Europe’s slickest and most successful scouting networks, Manga is quick to pay tribute to those that worked with him.

And so, when he headed to England at the end of last year, so did two other key figures from Frankfurt: Rafaelle Tonello and Helena Costa.

“Those two are people who are very, very important to me,” said Manga.

“I first met Rafaelle 19 years ago because we played football together, and I have spent the last six years working with Helena.

“They both know how I think and what I want, and they are here because of that. They know me, we know each other, and they will be a huge help.

“We want to deliver on our ambitions, and we want to pass on our knowledge to every single department of the training ground. We have real hunger to improve and to achieve better things together.”

When he first arrived at Watford, Manga was quoted in a German magazine that he felt automatic promotion was already out of the club’s reach.

The Hornets ended 2022 some 13 points adrift of the top two, but there were still more than 20 league games left.

Although his view has since proved to be painfully accurate, did he regret his first interview being perceived as rather too negative and frank?

“I am very realistic in what I think. I watch a lot of football and I know how it works,” he said.

Manga is multi-lingual and stressed that he would not have any problem in answering questions regularly.

“In this position, as a sporting director, I think it is normal that I am open and answer questions.

“I’m not going to chase newspapers to talk to me, but if someone wants to speak with me then I am open to talking to the media.”

This exclusive interview with Ben Manga will conclude tomorrow - the best way to make sure of you have unlimited access to every WFC story is by starting a digital WO subscription.

The current offer is six months for £6 - click here for more details.

As well as access to every story, you'll see fewer ads and enjoy a faster website.