When football clubs make statements, there is the obvious temptation to look beyond the words and read much into who is saying them.

Watford went through a spell, albeit brief, of having former technical director Ben Manga’s name at the end of quotes.

However, when it was announced at the start of October that Valerien Ismael had signed a new contract, the words came from sporting director Cristiano Giaretta.

Bearing in mind the Hornets have spent most of the season so far bobbing around the lower third of the Championship table, it was an announcement that was met with derision by some pundits as well as many Watford fans.

Why did the club decide Ismael was ‘the man’?

“I am very happy we have a long contract with a manager because, from day one, he has shown everyone a clear concept on the pitch,” said Giaretta.

“What he has given us since the start of pre-season, and then from the first game with QPR, was a massive change in terms of ideas on the pitch and the plan for how we play.

“It was impressive to see such strong ideas from the manager, and that is why we were happy to have a long-term agreement with him.

Watford Observer: Cristiano Giaretta admitted the training ground regime was more 'flexible' before the appointment of Valerien Ismael Cristiano Giaretta admitted the training ground regime was more 'flexible' before the appointment of Valerien Ismael (Image: PA)

“Obviously our hope is to continue working with him with the ambition to go up to the Premier League. We’re not happy being in the Championship.

“First of all, he brought discipline to the training ground. There is nothing better than to have discipline that is clearly communicated to all of the squad.

“There is nobody treated differently. If you are an experienced player with a more famous name you cannot do what you want.

“The rules are the same for everybody, and you have seen that when players were dropped to the bench or didn’t make the squad because they missed a meeting.

“Discipline was a very important quality in order to reset and allow the players to have a clear message.

“From my experience, if you want to be disciplined and organised on the pitch, but you don’t have that off the pitch, then you will struggle.”

Of course, if putting discipline in place this summer was a priority, the obvious conclusion to draw is that the training ground was a bit of circus before.

“I think it is fair to say that things were a bit more flexible,” Giaretta replied.

“We didn’t have bad people or bad guys, as I said before. But it was too flexible.

“Discipline is important whether you go to school, to work or play sport.

“When you are losing games and you have kind of flexibility in your discipline, then there were times when things were going beyond the limits. It wasn’t working out.”

When fixtures resume after the international break, the season will be heading quickly into the festive fixture pile-up and then the January transfer window.

How much money does the club have at its disposal should Ismael decide he needs new faces?

“Before we look at how much money we have to spend, we want to see the progression of this team before January,” said Giaretta.

“Once we have seen that, and at the same time hopefully have climbed up the league table, then we can see what we need.

“A lot of the players we have are constantly improving, and we have had to wait a little. Kone, Chakvetadze, Asprilla, Martins – they are still young players.

Watford Observer: Still improving: Yaser AsprillaStill improving: Yaser Asprilla (Image: PA)

“We want to work every day with the players we have now in order to see improvement, but also at the same time to be ready to go to the market if we need to.

“I never stop looking at players. Once the summer window shut, I started looking for January. When that window shuts, I will be looking for next summer. And so on.

“There is so much to analyse, and then if you want to go and watch players live you have to organise planes and that sort of thing.

“That is my job, to prepare for every eventuality and possibility.”

After so many players left in the summer, the squad is now intentionally thinner than for many years. But could there be more departures in January?

“At this moment, I don’t like to talk about the possibility of players leaving. It is important that all of them feel they can play an important part,” Giaretta said.

“More than ever in this squad, players have a chance to play, whether that is as a starter or minutes from the bench.

“I want players involved, the manager wants players involved. Now is not the time to talk about players leaving as there are still many games before the transfer market opens again.”

As our interview began to draw to a close – and I must point out Giaretta never attempted to hurry me up – I had to ask a question that, as a journalist covering the club, bugged me as much as it probably irked other supporters.

Why did Giaretta pop up in Italian media, talking about Watford, in Italian – and did he regret not giving an interview more locally a bit sooner?

“Yes, I do – but I am an open person, and now we are getting to know each other it is easier. If you want to come and talk to me, I will always be available.

“I’m not a guy who sits here and doesn’t want to talk.

“One thing you have to understand is that this country is very different. In Italy, the sporting director at each club has to hold a press conference at least once a month, and you also have to speak before and after each game to the media.

“Here, the position is much less important. I don’t know, maybe the way it works in Italy is to help take some of the pressure off the manager, because the sporting director has to speak to the media and explain themselves.

“So because of the media I knew in Italy, they called me and I did a couple of interviews. I worked there for 15 years and they know me.

“I am very happy to talk to you, because now I am Watford and I am working in England.

“In Italy, there is a very different culture. It is compulsory for every club to have a sporting director. That is not the case in England.

“Over here you might have a sporting director, a technical director, a head of football, many things. In Italy, it is just a sporting director and it is compulsory.”

Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’d spoken to Giaretta. We regularly see each other at games, particularly away trips – he’s at every first-team match.

“I know from experience what my job is on matchdays, and I am available if the manager has need of me,” he said.

“On a matchday, if the manager wants me for anything then I am there.

“In Italy, many managers have the sporting director sitting with them on the bench. If a manager here wanted me to do that, then I would. My role on a matchday is to do whatever the manager wants in order to give him the best chance of being successful.

“Matchdays are sacred, and my job is to help prepare everything. The hard work is done during the week in preparation, and then on the matchday if the manager wants me, I am available.”

Seeing Giaretta sometimes sat in or adjacent to the Watford dug-out over the last three years, often with phone in hand, has led some to suggest the sporting director is taking calls from the owner and then passing on ‘instructions’ to the head coach.

Giaretta laughed before giving a short and sharp answer.

“That,” he said, “is bulls**t. Totally.”

Watford Observer: The sporting director hopes it is not too long before Vicarage Road is hosting Premier League football againThe sporting director hopes it is not too long before Vicarage Road is hosting Premier League football again (Image: PA)

Having agreed we needed to maintain a more regular method of communicating in order to help ensure more information that was more accurate was passed from fans to club, I ended by asking Giaretta what his message to the Watford supporters would be.

“My message is a very simple one,” he replied.

“Our focus is to do our best in order to take this club back to the Premier League, and to establish it as a Premier League club.

“We will work hard to do that, and I really hope that they will be ready to support us through the downs and the ups.

“I hope they can be patient. I know they drive hundreds of kilometres to watch us, and it can be very frustrating especially when we play s**t like we did at Sunderland.

“I am very sorry to them for those occasions.

“I just ask them not to give up, because we will not give up. With the dedication of our supporters combined with the hard work of the club, we can enjoy success again as soon as possible.”