The Pozzo family completed their takeover of Watford in the summer of 2012 and have since overseen a complete transformation of the club. Under their stewardship, Watford have gone from the brink of liquidation to the riches of the Premier League. A significant feature of the impressive Pozzo reign has been the fast turnover of both head coaches and players. So Watford fans, do you know where some the Pozzo-era signings have ended up?
There have been many success stories in the Pozzo revolution and players who helped bring the club Premier League football. This summer, the likes of Daniel Pudil, Matej Vydra, Joel Ekstrand, Almen Abdi and Ikechi Anya all left Watford on permanent deals for Championship football.
Each of these players made contributions to Watford’s resurgence but were deemed surplus to requirements by Walter Mazzarri. Pudil and Abdi joined ex-Hornets Fernando Forestieri and Lewis McGugan at Sheffield Wednesday. Anya and Vydra left Watford to join Nigel Pearson’s Derby side. Joel Ekstrand was released by Watford this summer and only recently earned a contract at Bristol City.
Manuel Almunia joined Watford shortly after the Pozzo takeover and cemented his place as the club’s first choice goalkeeper. The ex-Arsenal and West Ham 'keeper made 79 appearances for Watford before a heart condition forced his retirement in 2014. The Spaniard has remained in the game and now works as a goalkeeping coach in Dhabi for Al Jazira.
A lot of Watford’s players have joined from Italy and Spain (with Pozzo links to Granada and Udinese) but they have also utilised the domestic loan market to sign the likes of Hector Bellerin from Arsenal; George Thorne from West Brom; Sebastien Bassong from Norwich; and Keith Andrews from Bolton. Bellerin only made seven appearances for the Hornets but showed plenty of promise. The right-back is now a regular in the Arsenal side. George Thorne would return to West Brom before being sent out on loan to Derby County. The midfielder joined the Rams permanently in 2014 but has struggled with injuries.
Bassong returned to Norwich after making 11 appearances for Watford in their promotion winning 2014/15 side. However, the Frenchman was relegated for a sixth time in his career last season when Norwich failed to maintain their Premier League status. Keith Andrews also played in Watford’s promotion winning side but failed to secure a permanent move to Vicarage Road. The Irish midfielder later joined MK Dons on loan before transitioning into a coaching role. He left Karl Robinson’s side this summer and has been trying his hand at punditry.
Not all of the Pozzo’s transfer business can be deemed a complete success. Some recruits had mixed fortunes at Vicarage Road and were moved on. Diego Fabbrini spent a large portion of his Watford career on loan at other clubs and in January of 2016 joined Birmingham City – where he still plays. Fabbrini joined Watford from Udinese alongside Cristian Battocchio. The Argentinian midfielder is currently at French Ligue 2 side Stade Brest.
Marco Cassetti and Alexandre Geijo both had forgettable spells at Watford and now pile their trade in the Italian lower divisions. Cassetti currently plays for Serie B side Calcio Como and Geijo plays for third division side Venezia. Gianni Munarri – who made 28 appearances for Watford – now plays for Serie A side Cagliari.
Meanwhile, Daniel Tozser and Gabriel Tamas have both returned to play for teams in their native countries. Gabriel Tamas recently featured for Steau Bucuresti against Manchester City in a Champions League play-off. Toszer now plays for Hungarian side Debrecen, where he started his footballing career.
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