Having been in attendance at last night`s Fans` Forum in the Legends Lounge at Vicarage Road, Chrisgwfc paints the picture of a positive evening`s viewing…
All in all, a fun night at the Watford Fans Forum 2012 in which decisions were explained and ideas were taken on board. General consensus around the room by fundamentally the club is heading in the right direction under the Pozzo family, Scott Duxbury and Gianluca Nani working off the field and Gianfranco Zola working on the pitch.
As host John Marks rightly pointed out as the evening got underway we were at least in the company of the power brokers at the club on this occasion, unlike last season`s ill-fated event. Attending this evening was Director of Football Gianluca Nani, Chief Executive Officer Scott Duxbury, Head Coach Gianfranco Zola and Club Captain John Eustace.
The first half of the event was based mainly around questions to Nani and Duxbury about the off the pitch goings on and the business side of the football club. Nani cleared up the situation regarding the number of loan players by saying that in only a short space of time before the window shut the quickest way of getting the players to Watford was by loan. All of the loan players except for Chalobah on loan from Chelsea have the option to buy in their loan agreements and Nani confirmed Fernando Forestieri had already indicated he wanted to join permanently. CEO Scott Duxbury did interject at this point that had they had their time again they would have brought less loan players to the club but wanted to give Gianfranco Zola the biggest pool of players possible to pick from.
Duxbury also tackled the question of stadium re-development during the first half of the evening. He made clear the priorities regarding expanding the club in the short term. He said the club hoped to exchange contracts on the South West corner by December and hoped the dugout and changing room work will have been completed by the end of the season.
Duxbury also said that achieving a regular attendance of 15,000 was second of the agenda of widening the club`s appeal and expanding the stadium. It was clear the club are open-minded about how they plan to raise attendances and by the end of the evening a focus group to discuss ticketing problems had been set up. Things such as moving the family area to the Lower Rous, extending the early-bird season ticket deadline, offering on the day cash turnstiles with an area of unreserved seating and offering season tickets for just weekend games will all be considered.
Nani and Duxbury were also confident that the Harefield Academy system would not be effected by the fact the club were not applying for a level one certificate from the Premier Leagues new EPPP system. Duxbury said that the Harefield model was still one that could attract the best young players and the fact young players such as Tommie Hoban, Connor Smith and Sean Murray were in the first team squad still gave Watford an advantage over bigger clubs.
The second half of the evening focused more heavily on on-field matters directed more at Gianfranco Zola and John Eustace. Eustace explained about his injury, that he was around a month away from returning to action after running for the first time this morning and is on course to be out for the estimated three months.
Zola addressed the issue of having such a large playing squad. He stated in no uncertain terms that the attitude of the players had been crucial in the large squad being workable and that players who by a Friday have to train on their own because they are not in the squad had made his job a lot easier by their professional manner. Duxbury also pointed out that by the start of next season they hope the playing squad will be down to around 25-28 players.
There was praise for Tommie Hoban`s seemingly comfortable step up into the first team arena and for Lloyd Doyley`s continued role at the club, someone Zola described as the clubs best defender. Zola was keen to point out the importance of having a British spine to the team and how he had benefited from those qualities at Chelsea with the likes of Steve Clarke, Graeme Le Saux and Dennis Wise able to drive their team forward. He also claimed he has no need to lose his temper with anybody at the club anymore, after losing his temper once at West Ham and hitting his fitness coach while throwing a flip chart around the dressing room!
Overall, it was a very good outcome for the men at the helm at Watford, with this being their first real communication with the fans since taking over in July. They took on board criticism about the losing of Watford`s identity, the use of the word ‘project` as a cold term to use to describe our club and the departure of Martin Taylor. However they provided plenty to be optimistic about for the future and clear indication the Pozzo family are here for the long term and the benefit of Watford Football Club.