Javi Gracia’s side were joint-third favourites for the drop, but are now the league’s best side when the top six are factored out
Before the season began, Watford were joint-third favourites for relegation, considered by bookmakers to be better only than Cardiff and Huddersfield. Javi Gracia was fifth in the betting to be the first top-flight manager to be sacked. General opinion was clear, and scathing. Fast forward eight months and Watford are jostling with Wolves for both seventh place in the top flight and, on Sunday, a spot in the FA Cup final. If, as many always expected, they have to plan for a competition other than the English top flight this summer, then it will be the Europa League rather than the Championship.
There was some logic behind the pessimism: between Gracia’s appointment in January last year and the end of the season Watford had won four of 14 league games, scored not a single away goal in seven attempts (plus one in the FA Cup), and had then spent a modest £24m on summer transfers. Their recruitment amounted to Gerard Deulofeu, a Spanish forward of impeccable provenance but proven inconsistency, Ben Foster, a 36-year-old goalkeeper from a freshly relegated club, and a handful of squad players whose impact has been as negligible as their cost. The combined expenditure on their seven signings was a little over half the fee they received for selling Richarlison to Everton.
Source: Football News
Link : Consistency the key to Watford’s rise from relegation tips to best of the rest | Simon Burnton