History suggests Watford face fight just to repeat play-off place
Given that Watford are 7/2 to secure promotion to the Premier League by any means next season and 12/1 to win the Championship, expectations are high that they can immediately bounce back from their play-off final defeat to Crystal Palace.
The club have had some good news from sporting director Gianluca Nani in that the Pozzo family are sticking with Watford for the long haul.
This should ensure that another raft of loanees arrive at Vicarage Road from Udinese next season, after the success of the likes of Almen Abdi, Matej Vydra and Marco Cassetti.
Whether it will be the same batch of players that return is currently unknown, but if not, this will have to be classified as a negative to their chances of reaching the Premier League.
Although this season’s loanees seemed to adapt quickly, this cannot be guaranteed of all overseas arrivals.
Meanwhile, Football League clubs are expected to vote in favour of capping the number of overseas loan signings a club can make, which would prevent Watford benefiting in the same manner next season.
Furthermore, is not only Udinese that have provided valuable loans to Watford this season as Nathaniel Chalobah is heading back to Chelsea and he could prove the biggest loss of them all.
But perhaps the big reason to doubt Watford’s promotion credentials is the difficulties suffered previously by play-off final losers.
Of the last 14 to have found themselves in the same position as Watford currently do, only three have been promoted in the following season.
West Brom and Reading did so by topping the table to bring some value to the 12/1 on Watford winning the 2013/14 Championship, while West Ham went up via the play-offs.
Only another three clubs even managed to consolidate their position with consecutive top-six finishes, meaning that eight of the last 14 final losers finished seventh or worse in the next campaign.
Gianfranco Zola has spoken as if he will be staying and this is a massive plus, but judging by history, Watford have their work cut out in going up.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication