Vydra, celebrating one of his many goals - Tom Dulat
I'm sure you all have a deadline day hangover (I know I do), but the football show must go on, and it will do just that tomorrow afternoon against Watford. Having not faced the high flying Hornets since September, we went to Tom Bodell, of Vital Watford to fill us in on the intervening 5 months. Take it away Tom....
Earlier this season, you said that you wanted Watford to finish higher than they did last season (11th) to justify sacking Dyche. 29 games in, Watford are 4th in the Championship, and it seems that the vision of the Pozzo family is paying off. Are you pleased with the club's progress so far? There's still a lot of season to go, but are you eyeing the Premier League?
Tom Bodell: How can I not be happy?! I'm a pretty pessimistic-realist, but this is well beyond my wildest dreams for the season. That we could have gone second in midweek seemed almost too good to be true and in the end, proved to be exactly that!
With the sheer volume of new arrivals, chiefly from abroad and speaking a multitude of different languages and varying degrees of English, plus a new manager with new ideas and a new philosophy, it didn't seem possible that everything could click into place so effectively, so quickly. However, everything has clicked into place and to that end I think quite a few of us have been whipped up into a frenzy of enthusiasm that we could be promoted this season.
I do however think that going up this season would be too soon. This project is only in its first year and we've historically seen clubs go up too quickly and immediately falter before crashing and burning upon relegation as a result. Another season in the Championship would be for the best for us, as boring as that sounds, allowing the players on-loan to sign permanently and really and truly click to the best of their abilities before going for promotion next season.
Gino Pozzo, son of Giampaolo, has said almost exactly the same thing - this season is a freebie, next season we go for promotion.
Last time we spoke, you singled out Matej Vydra as the player who would cause Bolton the most trouble. Nearly 5 months later, it seems like he's causing pretty much everybody trouble, he has become a real force in the Championship. Is this all just natural talent or has something spurred him on?
TB: I think this is genuinely natural talent. I've never seen a better finisher in a Watford shirt and he has gone from strength-to-strength since that premonition earlier in the campaign.
The first time I saw him was against Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup in August and playing wide left of the front three, he looked like the real deal; capable of beating players and creating danger. Now he has moved centrally in the 3-5-2 and has thoroughly benefited from doing so.
Being here with Czech team-mate Daniel Pudil and apparently loving his time in WD18 has certainly helped him hit top-form so soon.
Have Watford had any coups this transfer window? Are you happy with the business that has been done?
TB: This window was more about us moving on the players who were still hanging around or had fallen down the pecking order in our 40-odd man professional squad. Chris Iwelumo has joined Oldham Athletic on-loan ahead of his contract expiry this summer, Joe Garner has departed, whilst Dale Bennett has left for good after just a handful of games by the age of 23. Steve Beleck (on-loan from Udinese) has been loaned on to Stevenage to get game time - clearly the coaching staff see something in him that he's yet to show in games.
I reckon there could be a few more departing today - the likes of Carl Dickinson, Ross Jenkins, Piero Mingoia and Matty Whichelow - to name four, don't stand much chance of featuring and would be better served playing elsewhere.
In terms of arrivals, Fernando Forestieri has signed a five-and-a-half-year deal from Udinese - a wonderful player and a genuinely exciting talent. Pudil has stated his desire to stay whilst Vydra, Cristian Battocchio and Joel Ekstrand have all excelled and are players which fans and staff would like to see signed. Fingers crossed on that front!
One of the biggest differences between Dyche and Zola is the latter's commitment to a nice style of football, or at least that's what he would tell you. Has he followed through on this? Do you think this puts Watford on firmer ground if they do manage to get promoted?
TB: Yes, definitely. We've been in the Premier League before and tried to stay up by being tight, playing percentage football and launching the ball to a hulking centre-forward (Darius Henderson), and it didn't work out.
Looking at recent examples - Swansea City and Wigan Athletic to name but two - the top-flight favours sides which attack and play positive, passing football. We would be much better equipped for survival if were to win promotion this season or next, but hopefully next.
Finally, can I get a prediction?
TB: 2-1 to the Orns. We're playing well (bar the blip at Ashton Gate) and I think Bolton, though a decent side, will not be able to contain us.
Thanks again to Tom for answering our questions! Be sure to keep an eye on Vital Watford for his view on the match, and my answers to his questions.