The first month of the 2017-18 Premier League season was a good one for Watford. New head coach, Marco Silva, oversaw an unbeaten record of one win and two draws. The five-point haul is greater than their opening fixtures in the last two seasons combined, whilst the victory over Bournemouth marked their first win in August in the top flight since 1999.
Familiar League Cup Woes
Despite the league success, the results were not all positive, as the familiar early-round League Cup run of defeats continued. Watford were beaten 3-2 at home by Championship side Bristol City. The hosts were eliminated at the second round stage by a lower-league team for the fourth successive season. Silva did make six changes to his line-up, but Bristol City’s manager, former-Hornets trainee Lee Johnson, made nine changes to his.
The poor disciplinary record continued into the new campaign as José Holebas was dismissed for two yellow cards against Bristol City, while Miguel Britos was given his marching orders for a horror tackle against Brighton; his third dismissal in eleven league matches at Vicarage Road. Holebas was banned for the match against the Seagulls, while Britos will serve a three-match ban in September.
The final few weeks of the summer transfer window brought a hive of activity from Watford’s recruitment team. Owner Gino Pozzo smashed the club’s transfer record with the £18.5million signing of André Gray from Burley, whilst Brazilian youngster Richarlison joined the club from Fluminese and has made a very bright start to his Premier League career. On the right side of attack, Andre Carillo signed on a one-year loan from Benfica.
On deadline day, business relations with sister club, Udinese, were renewed. Experienced Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis will take up a reserve role behind Heurelho Gomes, whilst Molla Wague joins the injury-plagued central defensive corps. The Malian international already tasted English football with Leicester City last term, albeit very briefly. Dutch left-back Marvin Zeegelaar moved from Sporting Lisbon for €3 million, providing much-needed cover for Holebas.
Passing through the exit door, Nordin Amrabat completed a one-year loan move to La Liga side Leganes. Costel Pantilimon joins Amrabat in Spain, transferring to Deportivo La Coruna on loan. As expected, Valon Behrami moved to Udinese, having not been given a squad number. Jerome Sinclair’s loan move to Sheffield United fell through.
Record EFL Fine
Watford received a record fine of £3.95 million plus £350,000 costs by the Football League after the club were found guilty of supplying a falsified bank statement. The document was provided by former chairman Raffaele Riva to provide evidence of new owner Gino Pozzo’s ability to bankroll the club in 2014. The EFL found that Riva was the only current employee of the club who was aware of the forgery.
The Telegraph obtained a copy of the bank document in October 2016. Riva resigned a week after the story hit the news, and faces separate disciplinary proceedings. The EFL found no evidence that Pozzo was unable to fund the club.
Chalobah’s England Call-Up
Summer signing Nathaniel Chalobah became the first Watford player since John Barnes to receive a full England international call-up. The former Chelsea midfielder accepted an invitation to join Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions for their World Cup qualifying fixtures against Malta and Slovakia. He has made an impressive start to his second spell at the club at the base of midfield.
In September, Watford face three away fixtures against Southampton, Swansea and West Bromwich Albion. Marco Silva’s side host Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at Vicarage Road on the 16th September.
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