Watford's recruitment review

Watford's recruitment review

Last update: 11 March 2022 Tags: Watford FC. Categories: Premier League.

With Watford CEO Scott Duxbury infamously stating that lessons will be learned from the Hornets previous relegation in 2020, the proof as to whether this was true lay in the hands of ten new summer first team recruits and four January additions. Whilst the club have thirty points still to play for this season, it is hard to see them escaping the relegation zone under Roy Hodgson, the third head coach of the campaign. I give my verdict on those that have joined the club.
Ashley Fletcher – 3/10 – Free Transfer

The classic Pozzo five year deal for a player that doesn’t deserve it. Having finally offloaded high earners in Andre Gray and Troy Deeney, it made sense to bring in a reserve striker on the cheap, who would be happy to get limited game time but bring something different off the bench with his physical attributes. Fletcher clearly is not a Premier League player, his loan move to New York Red Bulls recently would demonstrate that however it is the length of the contract which is where this move is puzzling and doubtful of working out in those five years.
Nicolas N’Koulou – 4/10 – Free Transfer

Signed in early October, N’Koulou was brought in late after the summer deadline to patch up Watford’s desperate defending. In the 168 minutes he’s played he had looked like he was up to the level required showing good composure. But having been signed not up to speed the signing has backfired. It’s hard to feel that the transfer has been unlucky as when you sign someone in those circumstances, they are always fighting a battle to be a constant on the pitch.

Embed from Getty Images

Juraj Kucka – 3/10 – £2 million from Parma

The 35 year old midfielder got off to a dream start with an outstanding debut against Aston Villa. Since then any positivity has been few and far between, having very often been part of a losing midfield battle. Despite more poor performances than good, he’s made 21 appearances this season. With his age evident, even his relatively small fee has not seen much of a return. The middle of the park has lacked balance throughout and Kucka has been a key part of this.
Peter Etebo – 4/10 – Loan from Stoke City

This time a transfer hampered by an unfortunate injury suffered late in September. Etebo has been out of action since which halted a handful of appearances which makes it difficult to assess what Watford were missing. He started his Watford career relatively brightly and I think he would’ve given Ranieri a better balance in midfield if he were available. Another that has to go down as a failure so far even if unfortunate.
Danny Rose – 2/10 – Free Transfer

You could see the thinking behind the transfer but it feels like the club has been let down by Danny Rose. His fitness levels never showed any progress which underpinned his performances. Particularly against Man City and Liverpool he was an embarrassment to his profession. To be cut out of the squad in January says all you need to know, and the fact he has a two year contract makes matters worse.
Joshua King – 7/10 – Free Transfer

Whilst the Norwegian forward has struggled for a good while now, it is clear that he possesses enough quality. His all round game for the first half of the season gave me the belief that this was exactly the type of striker Watford had been missing in previous seasons. I think if he played under Gracia’s team he would’ve elevated the side and got goals. There’s no doubting he has to show more than he has done in recent weeks but this was a smart signing and on a two year deal I would be more than happy with King leading the line in the Championship next season.
Ozan Tufan – 1/10 – Loan from Fenerbahce

Firmly in the Danny Rose category, another unfit waste of time in a Watford shirt. Having played sixty five times for Turkey, it’s clear Tufan had some technical ability to offer to a side that was so desperate for some guile from that part of the field. Unfortunately he couldn’t run or pass the ball and was a complete passenger in his appearances for the club. To again not be able to compete at a basic fitness level is unacceptable and his early return back to Fenerbahce, whilst knowing he would have to sign for £10m if the club stay up is bordering on laughable.
Moussa Sissoko – 6/10 – £3 million from Tottenham Hotspur

Impressive in the first half of the season, absent ever since. The Frenchman was undoubtedly the clubs most consistent performer for the opening months of the Premier League, having embraced the challenge the club have proposed to him. He’s clearly a popular member of the team and well respected as club captain even if not the most natural leader on the pitch.

I believe the profile of the player was what Watford needed at the start of the season, provided they had enough around him to compliment his strengths/weaknesses. Unfortunately I feel like he’s been let down by a lack of balance and different options in that department. A sound signing but his impact weakens by the week.
Emmanuel Dennis – 8/10 – £3 million from Club Brugge

Nine goals and five assists in twenty six appearances, Watford would be long gone without Dennis’s goal contributions. And he clearly has top quality with dazzling footwork, great speed and agility. His signing has on the whole of course been a revelation, playing in each of the front three positions and producing plenty of key moments in the season.

In recent weeks though his attitude is one of a maverick, the same one which earned him this reputation before joining the club which has contributed to less output recently. Despite this he has definitely been a good capture and you’d expect he’d move on for much more than his £3 million fee in the summer.

Embed from Getty Images

Imran Louza – 7/10 – £8 million from Nantes

A shame that the Moroccan took a fair while to get up to speed and missed games through going to the AFCON but he looks a real asset to the team since finding his way into the starting eleven. Whilst it is still probably quite early to tell, with similar transfer fees Louza could be a younger and more effective player than Will Hughes was for Watford overall. At 22 years old, it feels like a very positive signing going forwards, even if it somewhat premature due to the nature of his start at Vicarage Road.

January Impact Ratings:

Kayembe – 5/10

Kamara – 7/10

Samir – 7/10

Kalu – N/A