DNA Series Rebuild – Watford FC – Introduction

Welcome to the latest DNA series, where today we will be having a general overview and introduction into where Wolfgang has decided to go next after a short spell in Germany with St Pauli.

If we just have a quick recap, Wolfie has already got an impressive CV so early on in his managerial career by unexpectedly promoting St Pauli into the first tier of German Football and with very limited funds managed to keep them up there for another season. Wolfgang beat the odds and was being praised across Europe by several managers for his work. It was no surprise that Wolfie didn’t take long before diving into his next challenge.

Wolfie & Bielsa had met for lunch and discussed several options, in the end it was decided that the Premier League is the destination to be and it being the best league in the world at the moment, it would be a very good way for Wolfie to gain extra exposure. As Bielsa has left Leeds, he was more than happy to support Wolfie with advice and learnings from his time in Yorkshire. However, Ralf who is currently at Man Utd was only able to give me words of encouragement as we would be coming up against each other during the season, which is a crazy though as once this guy was a mentor.

Wolfgang Arrives at Watford:

The talks with Pozzo were positive and the board were very impressed with the DNA blueprint. It is no secret that this club has a history of sacking their bosses very quickly and the turnover is higher than most. Here is a list of managers that have been here over the past years:

With so many managers coming in, trying different things, no wonder the club do not have a identity and a clear vision of what is required here. It has been a long time since anyone has worked with the youth here and developed, it has always been fire fighting missions for these previous managers.

Current Situation At Watford:

Watford have been labelled as a “yo-yo” club however, they spent a good few years in the premier league before going down the previous season before jumping straight back up. So the word “yo-yo” seems to be unfair. Their best finish in over a decade was 11th back in the 18/19 season.

The average age of the squad currently is 28, which is high compared to the league average which is 26. This is something that Wolfie wants to sort out as soon as possible and drive this down.

Facilities wise, the team are equipped with great training and youth facilites. The youth facilites is one that needs to be taken advantage of as they are at level 2 which Wolfie wants to push up to a 1.

Wolfie In The Seat:

As soon as Wolfgang walked in the door, he held a meeting to discuss the approach and how he was going to be the one that held onto his job longer than any other boss here. Wolfie, is looking at this as a 5 year project, which contains the following points that he has strong beliefs in:

  • Full clear out of existing backroom team, as the quality is low for the league at present
  • Recruitment Style – Using the DNA blueprint, signings will be carefully considered & fully scouted before signed
  • Sign more English players & work with them to eventually represent the country
  • Promote from youth – Build the youth recruitment process & for season 1 focus on signing talent for U18s & Dev squad
  • Be a Premier League Side & build up to getting into Europe by 5 years

As per Bielsa’s advice the last time, he suggests to try & work with the current squad first and then build out from there. He believes in always giving people a chance, prove that the manager can develop “standard” players and make them into “stars”.

Wolfie, has gone with the same advice again and has made a total of 0 first team signings during the first transfer window. Here is the current Squad:

Here are a few players who were let go, as the squad was too big and Wolfie wanted to have a trimmed side so youth can play a part too:

Staff Intake:

Nigel Gibbs – Wolfie brought in Nigel in as his number 2, with his wide experience of being a number 2 for multiple teams in England and the fact he has the knowledge on the football league which will come in handy when finding talent for the future

Marco Van Basten – Wolfie agreed that the role for Marco is purely on building the future of the team on transfers rather than style of play. Marco will be using his resources around the world to find the team some top talent, as the club did with the likes of Richarlison & Sarr recently.

Luke Dowling – Luke was at the club before as the DOF but comes back as a Technical Director who will look over the staff at the club. Luke knows the club well & will work closely with Marco on future plans and development.

Development & U18 Staff:

Wolfgang wants to not only work on the development of players but also coaches. He brought in Sami and Gareth as managers, so they can develop through the ranks and eventually be managers themselves for a first team. A similar style is created in Germany, where they tend to recruit from within and have the coaches all work on the same style of play. Again, Wolfgang being in England wants to do what he can to promote English talent weather that’s with players or staff. Gareth Barry has the potential to become a boss for the future for sure, for now will be helped with the likes of Dirk Kuyt in the under 18’s.

Current Potential – High Level View:

Nearly all out on loan, there are some promising players which Wolfie wants to develop who are at the club already. Okoye, someone who will look to take the number 1 spot next season with Ben Foster getting on a bit with age. The idea is that, these players eventually have a shot at playing for the first team, rather than being sold or constantly loaned out as has been the case here at Watford.

That wraps up the intro today. Wolfie has one heck of a challenge on his hands, most wouldn’t touch Watford with the history here with the owners but Wolf has never backed away from a challenge and doing something here, would go down in history.

A mid season update will follow, including in depth breakdown of the tactical approach for the season!

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