'Watford Want To Start Building For Next Season'

Watford Observer journalist Ryan Gray says the priority for Watford is now laying some foundations for a successful promotion push after their Premier League relegation was confirmed earlier this month.
More on this story...

- Leicester City face Watford at Vicarage Road in the Premier League on Sunday (2pm kick-off)
- Watford Observer journalist Ryan Gray has provided the lowdown on the Hornets
- Roy Hodgson will be replaced at the Hertfordshire club by Rob Edwards later this summer
- Watford's relegation back to the Sky Bet Championship was confirmed earlier in May

The Hertfordshire club have moved quickly to start planning for the 2022/23 season in the Sky Bet Championship with the appointment of Forest Green's League 2-winning manager Rob Edwards. Roy Hodgson, however, will remain in charge until the end of the current campaign. 

The Hornets are 19th in the top-flight standings on 23 points after a spirited 0-0 draw with Everton at Vicarage Road. That result brought an end to an 11-game losing streak on home soil for Hodgson's men, who next welcome Leicester City to their ground on Sunday (2pm kick-off).

"It was an interesting game because their relegation has also coincided with a massive injury crisis," Gray told LCFC Radio's Matchday Live show, which starts at 12:30pm on Sunday. "They’ve lost nine players. Hodgson had to make seven changes to his team and there were a lot of fringe players.

"A lot of people were probably expecting Everton to make the most of that and come away with an easy win, but that wasn’t the case. Watford were really steady, stable and difficult to break down.

"It’s something which has been missing and perhaps was to do with the pressure while they were still in a position where they could be in the Premier League.

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Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson

Former England manager Roy Hodgson has a 12.5 per cent win rate at Watford.

"Now they’re not, all they’ve got to play for is their pride and to perhaps show the new head coach that they are the right people for him to have him in his squad. Perhaps some are also playing to get a summer move elsewhere. There are different priorities now, certainly, among the players in the team.

"It wouldn’t surprise me to see Hodgson stick with a similar team. They did pretty well against Everton. It could be a similar type of approach to the game. They’re not going to want to give Leicester too much space. They’re going to stay compact.

"It worked for them against Everton and Leicester will have their work cut out trying to break them down. We’ve seen from Watford plenty of times this season some silly mistakes. We saw one at King Power Stadium with William Troost-Ekong ducking under the ball and James Maddison made the most of that.

"There’s always a potential for that to happen with Watford. That might be Leicester’s best chance of breaking them down."

Now [the fans] just want this season to be over, get the new head coach in, and start to build for that Championship push and trying to get back to the Premier League next season.

Ryan Gray Watford Observer

Edwards' appointment offers excitement for Watford's supporters, who have endured a difficult campaign. Now relegation has been confirmed, the focus is on lifting the move ahead of what promises to be a busy summer of transfer activity at Vicarage Road. 

"It's obviously been not the best mood," Gray continued. "The draw against Everton was the first point they’ve picked up at home since November.

"It was a horrible run of 11 straight defeats. When that’s your home form and your away form isn’t a lot better, for the last couple of months, the mood has been one of expectance that they are going down.

"That was finally confirmed last weekend but it might as well have been confirmed the weekend before just because of the circumstance with goal difference and points available. There has been an acceptance. Now [the fans] just want this season to be over, get the new head coach in, and start to build for that Championship push and trying to get back to the Premier League next season."

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Rob Edwards
Rob Edwards

Confirmation of Rob Edwards' appointment as manager offers excitement for the future at Vicarage Road.

Former Club Brugge striker Emmanuel Dennis is one player who will be a threat for the Foxes should be been deemed fit enough to play on Sunday. Gray, though, believes the 24-year-old could be one of those to make way in the summer as Edwards builds a squad for promotion.

"He is really good," Gray added. "He was obviously a bit of a gamble when they brought him in. There was all these rumours about him making a fuss about which seat he could sit on in a bus and things like that, but he does have pedigree. He's scored a couple of goals against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

"You don't do that if you're not a good player and he's been a real rare source of positivity for Watford this season.

"It's a shame that it wasn't enough to keep them up and I think he will probably be one of the players that does leave in the summer to bring in a bit of capital to pay for the promotion push in the Championship, because I don't think he's a player that would settle for playing in the second tier."

All times BST.

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