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01/02: Preview: Watford
BSaD opinion
by Peter Wilson

The sun is out, the beaches are full and the new football season is just around the corner, it just can't get better than this, can it? Less than two weeks to go till Maine Road and like many other Watford fans, it just can't arrive fast enough. With our new manager and a remodelled team, things are either going to be great or dismal for fans of the Golden Boys - there will be little room for mid-table mediocrity at the Vic this season.

Recent years have seen Watford's pre-season trips get more glamorous. Two seasons ago, it was Isle of Man; last year. Holland and Belgium; this year, Italy. The appointment of Luca and suddenly we are playing Inter Milan and Sampdoria rather than Tranmere and the Isle of Man team. It is not just our neighbours up the M1 who are jealous, there must also be one or two Premier League clubs green with envy.

Unfortunately, like the last few "international" trips, I am missing out. Well, it's not the real thing, is it? So those who are travelling to Northern Italy will get a good idea of how the team is progressing under Luca's stewardship - but like the majority of Watford fans I'll have to wait and see in Manchester in less than two weeks.

How the team will play is open to question - in the two games against Aylesbury and QPR with a revolving cast of Watford players, there was no clear pattern. Although it is obvious that possession and accurate passing is at the fore of Luca's thoughts. Some astute purchases at the back - Galli still looks class - will hopefully mean fewer goals conceded. The midfield looks extremely competitive, both in numbers and ability, though the front-line with the sale of Tommy Mooney, looks uncertain.

The failure to capture the Brescia centre forward, not Baggio, was a setback. However, if Gifton, Tommy Smith and Heidar have the potential to get goals, it is just a question of turning the potential into consistent performance. If our rapidly maturing front three grab the opportunity, it could be exciting times down at the Vic.

Whilst the big kick off has been moved to 6.15 for ITV's benefit, at the travelling fans inconvenience, hopefully a night out after the match in "Madchester" will be worth waiting for. Let's just hope that Luca's Golden Boys travel better than his Chelsea Chaps....

Watford season tickets are currently arriving through letterboxes around the country. It is the official confirmation that the season is kicking off on the 11th of August. Anybody who believes football begins on the 18th is living in Premiership cuckoo land...the real season starts a week earlier. Shame our press and media have overlooked this yet again.

Flicking through the season ticket, what a great start to the season - Man City, Rotherham, Plymouth, Wolves and then Walsall - bring the games on. With a new manager, a new team and fans hungry for success, Watford's progress will certainly be worth watching.