Following this summer, Watford FC will be entering their 5th successive season in the Premier League. With the club not threatened by relegation at all since promotion back in 2014/15, they owe a lot to the squad that achieved promotion at the third time of asking since the club was taken over by the Pozzo Family. I take a look at where some of the promotion heroes have found themselves during this period…
Gabriele Angella – Charleroi
The Italian defender made 35 appearances for the club during the promotion campaign and was an integral part promotion. He was never far from the action during his time at Vicarage Road, contributing to his fair share of goals and receiving some highly controversial red cards along the way. He was never able to prove his worth after promotion, he joined QPR on loan the following season where he was less effective and then been back at Udinese, with the 30 year old now plying his trade in Belgium with Charleroi who finished 9th in the first division.
Joel Ekstrand – AIK
Another important player at the back, Ekstrand really stepped up to the plate in his last season for the club. He wasn’t finished with his business in the English game as he signed for both Bristol City and Rotherham in the Championship but unfortunately in similar vein to his time in Hertfordshire, his game time was massively impacted by injury. He is currently back in his native Sweden playing for AIK but he has only featured once since signing in January 2018 because of further injury problems.
Daniel Tozser – Debrecen
What Javi Gracia would do to have someone who could take a free kick like Tozser! The playmaker would make 45 league appearances during the promotion season scoring 5 goals. He like Angella would join QPR the season after with his impact being reduced with the arrival of Adlene Guedioura and Ben Watson under Slavisa Jokanovic. Following his one season with the R’s, he also returned back to his native country, Hungary. He is now in his third season with Debrecen where his side came third last season. He has scored 15 goals in his last 3 campaigns, I assume they were all free-kicks…
Juan Carlos Parades – Emelec
His first season in English football was a real success for the full back who achieved promotion to the Premier League. It probably says more about how well Quique Sanchez Flores did that he would play 17 times for the club in the Premier League as he was certainly not the most dependable player, even in the Championship. The 31 year old followed his time with the Hornets on loan at Olmpiacos only making a handful of appearances before returning to play in Ecuador. He is now in his third season with Emelec, looking for his third straight Ecuadorian title…
Matej Vydra – Burnley
He is back! Those would’ve been the jubilant thoughts of every Watford fan as Vydra returned to Vicarage Road during the promotion season, he of course played his part, helping himself to 16 league goals but was overshadowed by the prowess of both Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. The Championship Player of the season 2012/13 always had immense potential but like his move a year after that season has made more wrong career moves. He scored just 3 times for Reading the year after promotion which was a huge dent on his career. He then signed for Derby County and after a tough first season he was the Championship top scorer in 2017/18. This attracted Burnley to sign him this season and it is no surprise to see he rarely starts under Sean Dyche these days.
Ikechi Anya – Derby County
A constant figure since signing from Granada back in 2012, Anya was a very likeable player who hit personal and collective heights during his time at WD18. His performances earned recognition from Scotland where he would become his nations player of the season. His versatility and reliability meant he made 35 appearances in the 2014/15 season and he would also do a job for Flores in the Premier League playing 28 times. While it was clear he could go on no further he has since dropped off the footballing face of the Earth and has not featured at all for Derby this season, which is his third for the club. His game time has become more irregular during his time at Pride Park and has been dealing with fitness issues whilst playing for Derby under 23’s to regain his fitness.
Almen Abdi – Unattached
The Professor. Abdi is often regarded as Watford’s best player during the Championship seasons as he was often a class above in yellow. He was frustratingly shifted to the wing in the Premier League so we would never see the best out of him however it would’ve been hard to have envisaged Sheffield Wednesday’s delight at seeing the back of him after 3 seasons at Hillsborough. The Wednesday faithful never got to witness the same Abdi with him once again in an unfavoured position as well as a general lack of form. Both were clearly not the ideal match for each other but Abdi has reportedly been a real issue for the Owls as he was not interested in finding football elsewhere and was happy to take his wage from the club.
Miguel Layun – Moterrey (Mexico)
Fernando Forestieri – Sheffield Wednesday
Adlene Guedioura – Nottingham Forest
Daniel Pudil – Unattached
Ben Watson – Nottingham Forest
Sebastian Bassong – Unattached
Gianni Munari – Verona
Marco Motta – AC Omonia (Cyprus)