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.
“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.”
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.