Just a few hours after the January transfer window shut, The Watford Observer sat down with Watford head coach Valerien Ismael to talk about some of the key points and questions that have arisen.

This is the verbatim transcript of the questions and answers. It was done with an understanding that the club would not give names of players who didn't sign or leave the club.

How would you describe Watford’s transfer window as a whole?

VI: “Calm. Precise. We were aware of it, we worked behind the scenes but we were really, really calm because we knew exactly what we wanted.

“We worked on our target players until the very last minute. We made an offer but the club turned down the offer.

“So that’s why we didn’t get the players we wanted.

“We had a lot of players offered to us but our feeling was always that we would be taking a player just to take a player, and this is not what we want to create, or what we have created so far.

“We have to believe in any transfer we are doing.

“On the other hand some players got offers to leave, but they didn’t want to leave. They wanted to stay, so it shows as well the togetherness we have created within the team.

“It just showed that we are on the right way with what we try to create. We are working on a process to build something and I think this window just showed the foundation we have put in place since the summer.”

What positions were the two players you couldn’t get?

VI: “The first one was a left-footed defender, the other one was a holding midfielder.”

While accepting you only want to sign the ‘right’ player, given where we’re at did you not consider just getting another body or two in, to give us cover in certain places?

VI: “Yes, but at the minute as I say we went through the period since the summer with the squad, and we got all the positions covered.

“So because I like to play with players who are able to play in two or three positions, and to make sure we are flexible and can work with a decent size group of players in the squad.

“For sure we wanted to do the next step, not only for January but also for the summer.

“We had the possibility but as I say it didn’t work out.

“For us it was the right players but it just confirmed we have to stay that way. If we have the feeling that this is the right player we have to do everything in our power to get the player.

“But if you have a feeling even 1% less then it’s better for us to leave it and to give the trust on our current players.

“I am very protective of the togetherness we have created. I think that even Dennis, in a short period of time, saw what has happened at the club and you see him as well being very good in the team every day.

“He has grown up with the team and the feeling is getting better and better.

“You know how much it takes to build something like that, and what energy. If you pick the wrong player then one player can destroy everything in the changing room. So that’s why I am very protective.”

You referenced Dennis there. Recently you said you were looking for players who could come in and play the next day. What changed your mind with Dennis as obviously he’s not been able to play the next day?

VI: “Sometimes you have to think about the big picture.

“The first thing is that Dennis knew the club. He was desperate to come and he made a lot of sacrifices. He showed a big mentality and a big desire to join us.

“He is a quality player, nobody has any doubt about that.

“After that it was a question of we know that he’s got the quality, it’s just the time. When could he get all his powers on the pitch.

“We know how we work and we knew that we could bring Dennis on that level.

“The most important thing is he is available. We know that even for 10 or 15 minutes, if we are able to put Dennis in the box in a one v one situation, he will give us satisfaction. That we know.

“This is all of the decisions you have to take, and the thought to take another player who maybe don’t know the club and might need more time to adapt and integrate.

“With Dennis it was more the case that it could be a win/win situation for both sides.”

You mentioned there were a couple of players the club had offers for. Were they offers the club accepted? The players chose not to go?

VI: “Yes, the club accepted the offers and the players chose not to go.”

Did you see that as endorsement of what you’re doing?

VI: “I think so. For sure there are two sides of the coin: you can see maybe one player is comfortable and wants to stay, but on the other side we are not here to be comfortable for everyone.

“We create a performance mindset. We try to raise the standards every week of every month, to be near to the perfection of what we want to create. But the players feel confident.

“On the other side of the coin we know that we will need everyone. Everyone gets a chance.

“If you see now the records, everyone gets the chance to play at some point. You just need to be patient.

“I think that the players now believe what we are saying to them and they see that on the pitch. Now they are more patient, more fighting and the spirit within the team is excellent.

“It’s a fantastic club, the facilities are top level, we are fighting for the play-off spots and we have quality in the squad.

“So I can understand why the players want to stay.”

Based on pure numbers, it looks like the squad is two players lighter than it was at the start of January. Does that concern you?

VI: “No. I’m not worried about that because I know what we create all the time with the players.

“It’s clear when everyone is available then you will have one or two players out of the squad.

“Everything can change quickly. You always get one or two players injured through the season.

“The danger is if you have everyone available and you have five or six players on the bench or even in the stand, then you create a problem within the squad and you need to manage those problems more than manage the problems on the pitch.

“This is what we want to avoid.

“We have created a team-first mentality and to create that mentality then firstly you need to work closely with your players.”

Earlier in January you talked about ‘one in, one out’. It looks like we’ve had ‘one in, three out’. Does that mean the two players you’ve referred to as not being able to get in were the gaps that stopped it being ‘three in, three out’?

VI: “Yes, exactly.”

Would they have been permanent transfers with fees, or loans?

VI: “One was a loan, one was a bid for a permanent transfer.”

So are you disappointed about that? Are you concerned that you didn’t get those two in?

VI: “No I’m not disappointed, because I have the support from the club and we made the decisions together.

“The club understood what we tried to do, and they gave me all the support – even on the financial side – to try to get what we wanted.

“But at the end, as I say, it is trust on both sides. If I got that the feeling that it’s not the right player then it’s better to stay like we are.

“Believe me, we tried everything to get the players because we found the right players for us.

“It didn’t work out, but at least it gave us the feeling of how we want to work in the future, together.

“That is why we are not disappointed. We were all in it together on those situations.

“I am here for the long term. I do not need to do everything instantly, and I have the support of the board in that.

“The plans we have and the process we are going through goes beyond just one transfer window.”

You have managed to keep finding solutions for each situation you have faced this season. But if Wes Hoedt, for instance, fell down a hole tomorrow, have you got a plan for things like that?

VI: “Yes, we will have another player that plays that position.

“I am not worried about things like that. Anything can happen, we know that. It’s football, it’s a contact sport and anything can happen.

“But we will always have a solution.”

What was the thinking behind making Giorgi Chakvetadze’s loan a permanent transfer this week? He was going to be here until the end of the season anyway?

VI: “For the way we play, Giorgi is able to play two positions as a No.8 or a No.7/No.11 position.

“He is a young player, a quality player with a great mentality. He gives everything on the pitch and is a great teammate.

“I think everyone has enjoyed seeing him on the pitch. He is the right player for Watford.”

Was there other money available to you? Was it a case of making a choice between Giorgi’s move permanent and bringing in new players?

VI: “No, it was nothing to do with that.

“We took that decision at the end of last year so we were pretty sure that Giorgi had to become our player and we took the decision internally and after that it was just a case of the negotiations until we get this over the line.

“It had nothing to do with the transfer window.”

We are on the edge of the play-off places. Do you have any fear of a lack of ambition at the club, that they haven’t pushed more now to bring in what might be the difference between a play-off place, and just falling short?

VI: “No I don’t.

“If you look back to last season, with one matchday left to go in January, Watford were in third place in the league with 44 points after 28 games.

“We had 40 points at the same stage this season, and the team in third had 58 points.

“The level in the Championship is higher this season, due to the three teams who dropped from the Premier League, and we knew that before the season started.

“For us, it’s more the case of building something. The club said from day one that we want to build something.

“We feel we are on the right way, and we are trying to build something that is sustainable, and that everyone can rely on the team, the fans can rely on the performances on the pitch and the way we want to play.

“We know it won’t be perfect every game. We saw that against Sheffield Wednesday.

“But at least we can rely on our players, and on our way to play.”

Do you think people forget that after we lost at Sunderland in early October we were 21st in the table, because now four months later we are three points off the play-off places?

VI: “Yes, and you have to see where we started from as well.

“We had a massive clear-out and a shift in mentality. It takes time.

“For sure you can use the transfer window to add and move quickly, but now our feeling is something is growing here.

“People cannot forget we are playing some very young players. We have some games with Morris, Asprilla, Martins, Kone, Andrews.

“When you play with young players it is always a bumpy road. They will put in the performances, we know that, but sometimes you have to be patient because their decision making is not stable on that level.

“We give the chance to our players to perform now. It will come. They will play with consistency on a high level but they need games, to do it well and to make mistakes.

“We keep going until we get that consistency.”

You are a manager who is methodical and has plans. How does where we are now compare to where you thought we might be?

VI: “I think we are not too far away to what I expected. I think we should have at least four or five points more. Then we would already be in the play-off places.

“It’s due to our mistakes, and this is a good feeling because it is something we can sort out.

“It’s just continuing to improve now over a period of time.

“If you look at the table, if you are third or 14th it doesn’t mean anything. Everything will change because now is the time to get your ticket for the play-offs.

“Actually we have put ourselves in a good position for the final push. Now it is about us, our performances, what we learned from the first part of the season, and to try to do things better.

“We want to play mistake-free, to be more clinical, to be more ruthless in the opponents’ half and to be sure we do the basics right in our duels.

“Working as a team and showing a great mentality: this is non-negotiable.”

Do you think the past month has shown the transfer windows have changed? It was the seventh lowest amount spent ever in the Premier League in January, and that’s a knock-on effect of the fair-play and sustainability rules. Do you think this January window will be what we see from now on?

VI: “I think it is more the mentality of the clubs. They will spend money if they have to but it’s always the case they have to find the right player.

“I think, personally, that in the past clubs have spent a lot of money but maybe only for average players or the players they signed did not meet the expectations they had.

“You spend a lot of money in January with big ambitions and expectations, and the players didn’t meet them.

“To make sure you get the right player in January is difficult.

“Either you go and pay the money, and you get your player. Or it’s a loan player.

“You can sign so many loan players and completely change the squad but it’s always a danger because loan players need time to adapt.

“I think it’s more the balance for clubs to find between this is what we need and if it is value for us then we do it, or if we have 1% doubt that it’s not the right player and then walk away from it.”