Formed: 1881 Manager: Quique Flores Stadium: Vicarage Road Capacity: 21,577 Years in Premier League: 2 Last 3 seasons: 2014-15: 2nd (Championship) 2013-14: 13th (Championship) 2012-13: 3rd (Championship) Best finish: 20th (1999-2000, 2006-07) Opening day fixture: Everton (A), Aug 8 Last day fixture: Sunderland (H), May 15
This season’s aim:
Last season’s Championship runners-up are hoping to make it third time lucky in the Premier League as they bid to secure successive seasons in the English top flight for the first time in the club’s history. Despite enjoying previous spells in the Promised Land (1999-2000 and 2006-07 campaigns), the Hornets have never survived upon their return to the Premier League, finishing bottom of the league table each time. Despite a series of managerial merry-go-rounds last term, where Giuseppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia, Billy McKinlay and Slavisa Jokanovic all took charge of the newly promoted club at some stage, Watford narrowly missed out on the Championship title by a single point to fellow promoted outfit Bournemouth in the final minutes of the season. But just as with any other promoted side, new manager Quique Flores’ main objective at Watford is survival – although that is harder said than done. The Spanish boss has gambled with a flurry of foreign signings this summer, such as Sebastian Prodl, Etienne Capoue, Valon Behrami and Steven Berghuis, so Hornet fans will be praying their squad gel quickly upon their season opener at Everton on Saturday.
Sebastian Prodl (Werder Bremen), Giedrius Arlauskis (Steaua Bucharest), Jose Holebas (AS Roma), Matej Vydra (Udinese), Etienne Capoue (Tottenham Hotspur), Valon Behrami (Hamburg), Allan Nyom (Granada), Miguel Britos (Napoli), Jose Manuel Jurado (Spartak Moscow), Steven Berghuis (AZ Alkmaar)
Jonathan Bond (Reading), Lewis McGugan (Sheffield Wednesday), Diego Fabbrini (Middlesbrough)
Star Player: Troy Deeney
The Hornets skipper was instrumental in the club’s push for promotion last term, scoring 21 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions, including 10 assists. In the process, Deeney became the first player in the club’s history to score 20 or more goals in three successive season. The 27-year-old should also take great heart in what last term’s Premier League newboys Charlie Austin and Danny Ings achieved, with both strikers strikes in the top-flight being rewarded with international recognition and attracting interest from elite clubs. Deeney is undoubtedly new manager Quique Flores’ most valuable player at Vicarage Road as the club seek stability in the Premier League for the very first time. It goes without saying that if Watford’s talisman is having a good game, so are the team.
Shoot’s Watford blogger: Brad Goldsworthy
Blogger’s view: “Great expectations lie with all those involved at Watford. The ever generous and copious amounts of signings, including the appointed dressing room character Quique Flores, have both created a buzz and zip about everything in pre-season. Outside of our shiny yellow ‘Hornet’ bubble, we are being branded for relegation favorites, which ring a lack of understanding for the Pozzo structure and the stability they provide to clubs. Long-term fans will be very aware that bring out of the spotlight, so to speak, is crucial to our success as all eyes are on fellow new boys Bournemouth after their incredible feat. I expect a strong start, a tough Christmas period and a hit and miss end of season.”
Blogger’s key man: Troy Deeney
Shoot Says: Relegation candidates