Watford’s Form On The Up; Can Fans Dream of Promotion?

Watford finally appear to be turning their season around. After an initial opening win against QPR, in which the Hornets bagged themselves four first-half goals, the rest of August into early October was largely forgettable.

Fans at Vicarage Road for the 2023-2024 season’s first game were bouncing from the rafters from the first minute when Ayotomiwa Dele-Bashiru gave Watford the lead. But that early season promise faded.

They couldn’t find a goal in their next home match to Plymouth Argyle before defeats to Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City. After a win and two draws, Watford then suffered three defeats in a row albeit in some very tough games. These included away losses at Leeds and Sunderland.

However, are Valérien Ismaël’s men finally turning a corner? The late autumn has been far kinder to the Hornets. While they’ve suffered defeats to bookies’ promotion favourites Leicester and title-chasers Ipswich, they’ve rediscovered the goalscoring touch they had on day one of the season and achieved several handsome victories.  

Could Watford become a promotion contenders?

It seems a long time since Watford beat Manchester United 4-1 in the Premier League yet it was only two years ago. Since the side’s relegation, however, there have been glimpses of the form that put them in the Premier League in the first place. Now there are more reasons for fan optimism, both on and off the pitch.

The new manager, the Frenchman Valérien Ismaël, brings a lot of pedigree to the club having managed in Germany, Austria, Turkey, and England with West Brom and Barnsley. With the latter, he was able to turn their season around. He entered the job with the club near the relegation zone but changed their fortunes, which led them to finishing in the playoffs.

It’s his work with Barnsley that caught the eye of ambitious sporting director Cristiano Giaretta. And the manager has been supported by players too. While there was the notable sale of João Pedro to Brighton, Giaretta has brought in the experienced winger Tom Ince and exciting striker Mileta Rajovic.

The club itself clearly shares the belief of Giaretta to take it back to the Premier League. As the Watford Observer reports, the Hornets have confirmed investment to expand the stadium will happen. It’s a matter of “when”, not “if”.

Following its multi-year sponsorship deal with Stake in 2021, it entered a commercial partnership with online casino MrQ this year. Indeed, as part of the deal, MrQ is offering ‘Watford Wins’, a fine example of their promotions which involves free spins on its slots game Wild Swarm every time the Hornets win.

Naturally, there’s positivity amongst the Watford hierarchy when looking ahead. The Hornets have Premier League pedigree amongst their ranks and have shown an eye for goals. If they could improve their home form to go alongside some impressive away performances, it’s clear the Hornets will be fighting for the play-off places.

In manager Valérien Ismaël, they also have a head coach who knows how to turn fortunes around. There was a feeling of doom around the club following its relegation from the Premier League but Ismaël has proven he can transform underdogs into promotion hunters. His year at Barnsley was the stuff of fairytales with the South Yorkshire club once again dreaming of the top flight. It wasn’t to be in the end.

Can he go one further with Watford in 2024? Maybe.

Muhammad Saleem is an aspiring writer and Admin at Football Arroyo. He is a fabulous Football writer, and a huge football fan. He is also a football fan since childhood and has a keen interest in regional sports events coverage.

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