A summary of the Gino Pozzo era at Watford

Watford have gone through several radical changes after Italian businessman Giampaolo Pozzo and his son Gino bought the club’s ownership rights from Laurence Bassini back in 2012.

The Hornets were down in the Championship back then and had been away from the Premier League scheme of things since 2006-07, struggling in the second-tier for survival.

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Well, Watford seem to have come a long way since those days when their identity in English football was in danger of erosion. The fans in the 1980s would probably recall the times when the club used to upset the top-division giants regularly, compete in the UEFA Cup and operate in the upper reaches more often than not.

However, things have hardly been the same for the Hornets since the turn of the century and had it not been for Gino Pozzo, the Hertfordshire club could probably have been tottering in the third or fourth division by now.

Watford were not only in dire need of funds to help them in their surge for promotion when Pozzo took over but the Hornets also required someone who could lay down a solid platform, a competent administration to spearhead the club’s development in the right direction.

Looking at how the club has progressed over the years since Pozzo took charge, Watford’s impressive resurgence in English football is surprising.

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The Italian family has not only stabilised Watford financially but they have done an awful lot more in terms of developing the stadium and bringing about a change in the recruitment policy. In other words, Pozzo’s presence behind the scenes has been instrumental in the smooth running of affairs at Vicarage Road.

The Pozzo family boasts of the ownership rights of two other clubs in Europe, namely Granada in Spain and Udinese in Italy. They initially bought Udinese and despite not being considered as one of the giants in Italy, the club have managed to reach great heights in the Serie A over the years, thanks to the planned development and establishment of a proper structure at the top of the hierarchy.

Granada too have progressed leaps and bounds in recent times, with Pozzo transforming the club from third-tier strugglers in Spain to La Liga regulars.

Going by what he has done for the two other clubs, Watford have also enjoyed the same kind of patronage and support from their owners. There is a reason why he is like the messiah at Vicarage Road, as Pozzo has apparently always worked to take the club forward in the right direction.

The arrival of Pozzo at Watford has been marked by the establishment of a three-man leadership group at the helm of affairs consisting of himself, a technical director and an overall supervisor of business and matters related to administration.

Despite having loads of other matters to take care of, Pozzo hardly ever seems to stay aloof when it comes to making key decisions – ranging from the identification of players to the establishment of scouting networks and recruitment of managers.

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One of the marked features of his reign at Watford has been the establishment of an extensive scouting network all over the world, which has allowed the club to supplement their youth and development squad with quality talents on a regular basis.

Watford’s scouting network has put an end to the Hornets’ over-reliance on homegrown Britain-based players, with Pozzo bringing players on loan from several Italian clubs.

As evident from the way he has gone about things at Watford, Pozzo is a perfectionist who demands a lot from his players and also the managers.

He can be labelled as a visionary in some aspects given that he often anticipates things even before they happen, with his no-nonsense and honest handling of affairs as well as his passion and knowledge of football being a key factor behind Watford’s meteoric resurgence in England.

Being the boss at Vicarage Road, he doesn’t slow things down and is very quick and often a little ruthless with his decision-making, as clear from the frequent change of managers at the club.

His impatience with managers has often earned negative remarks from pundits but he seems to know what he is doing and what is best for the club moving forward. In other words, he is a man who doesn’t necessarily tolerate too many blunders and mistakes from his employees.

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As a matter of fact, Watford have had ten different managers in charge since the Pozzo family took over, starting from Gianfranco Zola to Javi Gracia.

He hasn’t hesitated to pull the trigger on any of them when he deemed the results to be unsatisfactory, although he seems to have finally settled down with Gracia at the helm of affairs.

Watford’s scintillating run of form in the Premier League this past season coupled with their FA Cup heroics apparently convinced Pozzo that Gracia is the ideal man to take the club forward and he rewarded him with a long-term deal until 2023.

Putting all the aforementioned factors together, it is not difficult to see how Gino Pozzo has worked wonders for Watford, not only with his financial backing but also with his appreciable decision-making and systematic handling of affairs.

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The result is there for everybody to see – the Hornets have come back to the forefront of English football following a long exile from the top-flight whilst also creating an identity of their own.

What Pozzo has failed to deliver in all these years is a trophy, although he came agonisingly close on a couple of occasions in the FA Cup. That shouldn’t be a big problem for the fans though, as the Hornets can now capitalise on the solid platform laid down by Pozzo and take strides towards challenging for a European spot next season.

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