Last season, Watford under-performed. We should have at least made the
playoffs, possibly automatic promotion. This year anything other than
automatic promotion will be seen as a failure. That is a tough task for any
manager to cope with - even tougher for a high profile manager following on
from one of the most successful club managers of all time!
The single most important thing that Vialli and the team need is time. With so
many changes on and off the pitch, it is a certainty that the team will take
time to get into its stride. Once the team gets up to full speed I believe
they will be very effective, the question is how long it will take. I fear
that too many fans will assume that if we win all our matches in August we
will definitely be promoted and if we lose them all we will be relegated.
The fickle nature of football fans is something that could have a serious
impact on the team.
If we get off to a slow start, it is vital that the fans stay behind the
team. If the football is good, and the results poor - the good results will
come. If the football is poor - well, let's not face that option. I also
think that the fans have to wipe from their thought process that all Watford
teams that turned out under GT played perfectly - 'cos they didn't. Last
season GT and the team built up an air of infallibility comparable that
bestowed upon the Pope - something that might have cost us a playoff
spot. This year the situation will be reversed - any mistake, however tiny
and insignificant, will get magnified out of all proportion and make Vialli
look like the devil. The contrast between these two perspectives could lead
some, maybe many, fans to believe that the team is doomed right from the
I firmly believe that managers should be employed for the season and,
therefore, should be given the whole season to prove their worth. If we
start as slowly as Blackburn did last year, will Vialli be under pressure? I
hope not 'cos Blackburn were clearly the second best team in the division
last year by the time it ended. In fact I suspect our season will be very
similar to Blackburn's last year. It may though take a little longer to get
into our stride and therefore limit our chances of an automatic promotion
As to the opposition, I think that Man City and Coventry are the main threat.
Man City - because they always are, irrespective of where and when you play
them. A club of that size always has the potential to win a match in style.
Coventry probably have the best squad in the division and their signing of
Hughes from West Brom would give them real strength in depth. Of the other
clubs Brum and Wolves will probably be up there in the hunt for promotion,
although I think Trev is on borrowed time and a poor start could see him
ousted before Xmas.
Of the teams that got promoted, I think Millwall have the best chance of
causing an upset or two. They have a good young squad, the fans and a
manager who has experience of the division, even if he hasn't always been
successful. Also watch out for Preston to build on last year and Pompey
under Rix could be a threat - although it depends how the tragic death of
their young keeper influences them.
Crewe will once again avoid relegation. Surely the bookies know they will
lose money on this one? They are a good solid side and could well cause a
few upsets along the way, although I don't think they will seriously
challenge the upper reaches of the league. Relegation is quite open but I
think Rotherham and Walsall (two of the promoted teams) might struggle and I
wouldn't be too surprised if Notts Forest got dragged into a relegation
dogfight with all their off-pitch problems.
Whatever happens, it will be a long season and it could go down to the last
few games. All I would say is don't write Watford off until the fat lady
has actually sung - rather than when she has only just been booked to appear
in the first place. I think the season is going to fun and challenging.
Who knows where it will end....