Over the last twelve months, I have sat wondering as to how Watford FC has lost its way, lost its identity. It suddenly struck me that I am suffering a distinct bout of déjà vu.
Under the stewardship of West Ham fan Jack Petchey, we witnessed the sale of Paul Furlong and Bruce Dyer in order to fund the development of the Rookery and Vicarage Road stands. It is well documented that Petchey was a shrewd businessman who was obsessed with the balance sheet and running the club as a business.
Ten years on and under the stewardship of Watford fan Graham Simpson, we've seen the sale of Robinson, Helguson, Webber and Gunnarsson (and Richard Lee to follow soon?). We have witnessed Ray Lewington taking us to two unexpected but nonetheless heroic cup runs which bought in millions of pounds of unbudgeted income. Following the debacle of the Vialli era (of which Simpson was part of), the board have been working incredibly hard to turn the club into a profitable business.
It is common knowledge that this income is being earmarked for stadium redevelopment. The new Chief Executive Mark Ashton stated last week at a fans forum that "to the best of his knowledge the club has never been run as a profitable organisation and it was imperative that we become so."
Back in 1995, Petchey's obsession in running the club as a business ultimately resulted in the club being relegated to (then) Division Two. Glenn Roeder, having taken WFC to seventh in 1994/95, received no financial backing from Petchey (to sign the likes of Barry Hayles) and the following season was nothing short of disastrous. This culminated in Roeder leaving in April (to be replaced by GT) but many fans felt at the time that the manner in which Petchey was talking to GT behind Roeder's back was "not the Watford way."
Roll on ten years and the manner in which Lewington and Nigel Gibbs have been sacked has left a sour taste with many Watford fans. It now seems as if the club had earmarked Aidy Boothroyd as a replacement some time before Lewington was finally relieved of his duties (surely not the Watford way of doing things!).
I couldn't agree more with Ashton that the club has to be profitable but wasn't this the same vision that Petchey had ten years previous?
The big question is whether the current lack of reinvestment in the playing side will result in the same outcome we witnessed under the Petchey regime a decade ago.
Sure, we escaped relegation last season but something tells me that history is in the process of repeating itself!