Can The Hornets Bounce Back To The Premier League At The Second Time Of Asking?
Having finished in 12th place after dropping down from the Premier League, it wasn’t the return to the EFL that the club were expecting.
Watford will be looking for a much stronger campaign in 2023/24 under new manager Valerien Ismael. Knowing how the Pozzo’s treat their managers, Ismael is going to be under a lot of pressure from the start to get the club back into the promotion picture.
The Hornets’ transfer window so far has been a major clearout and a desperately needed one. Having sold, loaned or released a total of 21 players, it’s safe to say that this is a year of change for the club.
The sales of top talents Joao Pedro to Brighton & Hove Albion and Ismaila Sarr to Marseille are massive losses to the Hertfordshire club as they were the top two contributors for goals at the club with both reaching double digits.
The loss of firepower up front for Watford is going to be hard to replace this season, and unless they can bring in some quality, the goals will dry up.
Watford have so far signed Matheus Martins on loan from Udinese, Jamal Lewis on loan from Newcastle United, Jake Livermore on a free transfer, Tom Ince from Reading and Rhys Healey from Toulouse.
Lewis, if able to re-discover his form at Norwich City that saw Newcastle sign him for £15 million back in 2021, then Watford have a fantastic replacement for Hassane Kamara to fill that left-back spot.
Healey had an impressive spell at Toulouse scoring 39 and assisting seven in 77 games for the French side. Having scored 20 and assisting four in Ligue 2 in the 2021/22 campaign, he had a fantastic year, but unfortunately for him, he ruptured his cruciate ligament in the 2022/23 season ruling him out for the vast majority.
Watford have also been heavily rumoured to sign Georgian star Giorgi Chakvetadze from Gent on loan. The tricky left winger/attacking midfielder could provide a lot of entertainment for Hornets fans this season with his flair, however, like Healey, he has a history of injury concerns.
With the season starting this weekend, fans will hope that Watford won’t have completed their transfer business before the opening day as the squad is looking very thin.
Watford fans have been vocal about wanting to bring in another midfielder, a winger, a striker, a centre back and a goalkeeper.
Will Watford fans get what they are wishing for?
The Hornets face local rivals Queens Park Rangers on the opening day and this is what an expected line-up could look like for Watford.
Given the lack of signings made so far and the players that have left the club, it’ll be a difficult task to get Watford back into the Play-Offs for Ismael.
A positive season for Watford this year will be maintaining a top-half finish with a potential push for Play-Offs but not necessarily making it as this squad is still a few years away from being able to compete in the top flight.