4847720

‘It’d have been a waste of time for Watford to bid for some players’

The biggest challenge Watford faced this summer was managing salary expectations, according to sporting director Luke Dowling.

The Hornets were able to be more selective than they were the previous summer as they went about upgrading a squad now its in second season as a Premier League club. Eleven new faces walked through the door at the training ground while other deals didn’t even get get off the ground due to inflated wage demands.

Luke Dowling. Picture by Paul Dawson
Luke Dowling. Picture by Paul Dawson

“The first year it’s difficult to attract players to come to Watford because you are a first year Premier League club,” said Dowling in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live. “Once you do stay up, the difficulty you have is salary expectations as players recognise you are a Premier League club and their demands are a lot higher. In the first year, you try and talk and sell the project. Once you stay up and finish 13th, they then feel they can ask for more. When you are after certain targets, you have an idea of what the [salary] expectations are before we make the bid. If the expectations are greater than what we can afford there is no point wasting time by making a bid to his parent club. Nine out of ten times you have a rough idea of what they are on.”

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Chief executive Scott Duxbury, who is charge of the day to day running of the club, thrashes out the deals and signs them off. He was the one who pulled the plug on the Juan Iturbe deal in December, due to a combination of the vibe from the player and the wage demands. Duxbury also stepped in to pinch Costel Pantilimon from under the noses of Monaco in January. It was last summer, however, when Duxbury worked the hardest in convincing players like Etienne Capoue to join a newly-promoted club widely tipped to finish rock bottom.

Watford FC Season 2012-13 13/09/2012 Picture Alan Cozzi 07968336683 Watford CEO Scott Duxbury

“It was very much a leap of faith for the likes of Etienne when we sold the project,” Duxbury told us. “We talk a great game, we can show the stadium development but it’s still a leap of faith. They took it. We were talking to various players and we there was one who went to a second year Premier League club purely on that basis. Players have a certain confidence because if you are second year Premier League club, you have a better chance of retaining Premier League status than a promoted team. Given our track record, given our success and clear development off the pitch, it’s clear we are not just throwing money at things on the field and, if you add second year status, we have to be an attractive proposition to players.”