A look back at last season month by month
August was a month that captured in just three league matches what was to come in the other nine months of the season for the Hornets. Dramatic late finishes, frustrating matches and clinical victories were all in evidence in the opening matches of the season as Gianfranco Zola’s reign at Watford got off to a interesting start.
There was much upheaval during the opening weeks of pre season with a large number of players arriving from fellow Pozzo owned clubs Granada and Udinese. By the time of the first competitive match against Wycombe Wanderes in the Capital One Cup five players had joined on loan from those clubs respectively. Also joining were permanent signings Manuel Almunia and Fitz Hall.
Given the fact that Fitz Hall arrived unfit and Daniel Pudil had gone off with a hamstring injury in Lloyd Doyley’s testimonial, Watford went into their first competitive matches with largely last season`s squad. On a hot afternoon at Vicarage Road, Watford plodded past a well-drilled Wycombe side in the Capital One Cup thanks to a goal from Chris Iwelumo, who bundled the ball over the line from close-range during the second period of extra time.
That took the Hornets into the opening match of the league campaign at Crystal Palace with a victory under their belts and they were to get another after a dramatic late finish at Selhurst Park. A double from Owen Garvan either side of a Martin Taylor equaliser saw Palace going into the final five minutes leading 2-1. However, Watford’s loanees then showed their quality as they turned the game around. First Almen Abdi scored an equaliser from 20 yards before Matej Vydra won it in the last minute of stoppage time with a curling effort from the angle of the area.
However, things did not follow the same script in the first home match of the season the following Tuesday against Ipswich. The game saw former goalkeeper Scott Loach return to Vicarage Road for the first time and his team leave with all three points thanks to a last minute winner from Michael Chopra after Ipswich had frustrated Watford all evening.
The following game against Birmingham City at Vicarage Road saw a much improved and clinical performance from the Hornets who ran out comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to first half goals from Abdi and Vydra. The team was beginning to take shape although another influx of players from Udinese were to arrive late on in the transfer window.
To continue the theme of up and down performances came a disappointing display followed against League Two Bradford City in the second round of the Capital One Cup. Despite a first goal for the club from Ikechi Anya, two late goals from Bradford saw them go through 2-1, and all the way to the final!
More drama was to come in August off the pitch as the transfer window came to a close. Another eight loan players from Udinese and Granada joined the ranks as did Nathaniel Chalobah from Chelsea on an initial six month loan. The biggest surprise of deadline day came with the eleventh hour departure of defender Taylor who moved to Sheffield Wednesday after being offered a two year contract. As August ended, things at Vicarage Road remained very much up in the air.