At Our Place | Recap
Thank you to all supporters who came along to the ‘At Our Place’ event last week, which was once again an informative, entertaining and enjoyable evening at The Vic. Read on below for some of the key points from the evening.
Javi Gracia on home support, the run-in and the future:
In this moment, the most important thing is to try and win the next game, to try and claim all three points. This is the best mentality, not only for the next game but for the future as well. We have to win every game.
I would like to improve day-by-day, to be ambitious and to be very demanding and to try and help the club. I would like to play in Europe one day, for sure.
I think it will be better in the future after we have time to work in pre-season, and to have time to do better things. I am sure with these players and these fans, together, we can get important things for this club.
That night [against Chelsea] was amazing, it was my first win in Vicarage Road and it was special for me. We feel comfortable at home, because with your support we feel better. I prefer to play at Vicarage Road; for me it is the best place to play.
I hear the song [about myself], but I don’t like Sangria! I don’t know when, but in the future if we get something important, I promise I will drink it!
Scott Duxbury on atmosphere and stadium expansion:
It really does make a difference, when Vicarage Road is rocking and the supporters are really behind the team, because invariably it pushes the team to a win, or at least a good performance. You see it here, particularly under floodlights in the evening.
We’ve engaged a company to conduct a survey to see how we can expand the stadium but still keep the aesthetic look we have now. They are looking at the Sir Elton John Stand and the Graham Taylor Stand and seeing what is the most effective way for us to expand.
We are already in dialogue with the council. While I won’t go into specific timelines, we hope that sooner rather than later we will be able to close on a plan.
We are looking at two scenarios, one taking us to 25,000 and one taking us to 30,000. I would like to take us to 30,000, because it puts us in that tier of clubs just outside the top six.
What we are going to do at the stadium, and our desire to increase the capacity, isn’t to generate new revenue, but to give us a technical advantage because on a matchday it does make a difference. The more numbers we can get the more likely we are going to make this a fortress.
Tom Cleverley on changes since his first spell at Watford, and the players he has played with:
The stadium is fantastic, it looks like a new stadium. The pitch is perfect now, which the first time around when we were sharing with the rugby team it wasn’t! The training ground has developed, and the owner, Scott, and everyone at the club are really ambitious to keep the club progressing.
There’s a lot of new faces too, but still some of the same ones; Jonesy the kit man, Mapps, and I still see Lloydy round the training ground! The club is going in the right direction and there’s been some really good changes.
The most underrated player here in both spells would be Mapps. He’s the ultimate professional, he works hard every day, and you know what you are going to get from him on a Saturday.
And, you’ll always remember where you were when Lloydy scored. I don’t think he ever did score in training, but he was a great servant for this club and he was a great example for me as a young player.
Javi Gracia & Scott Duxbury on youth development and opportunities:
JG: I would like young players playing in the first-team because many times they have a sense of belonging other players at other teams don’t have. But I can say at this moment that the players of the first-team have a commitment with the club and I hope in the future many of our young players can play with us, as I think it would be a good scenario for the club.
SD: We brought in Andy Scott from Brentford to head up UK recruitment and try and change the way that development and the Academy is run. He is looking at that at the moment and restructuring things so the players we retain and play in our Under-23s are players that genuinely have a future and could play in our first-team.
We have a really strong focus on UK recruitment – in the summer we did it using the market with Nathaniel Chalobah, Will Hughes, Andre Gray and Tom – it really makes a difference to the DNA of the team.
The current Academy system makes it very difficult to develop your own players. We will perhaps look to recruit some really talented young players from lower divisions, who we can bring into our Under-23s and have a one-year or two-year-long pathway into the first-team. That immediacy of result, I think, is the best way to get more home-grown players into the first-team.
Scott Duxbury on summer recruitment:
Our scouting model is that we look at the best talent that is out there and we look to secure them. We are always continually improving, we are always adapting the squad but I think hopefully this summer there will be less activity than in previous seasons.
We’ve created a team that we believe is going to be competitive in the Premier League. There’s two leagues within that, and we try and create a team that is capable of winning the second league.
That is always our aspiration, to be ‘the best of the rest’. We will always trade on our terms. And, if we decide to trade it’s because it is a significant transfer fee that will transform the technical ability of the club to move it to another level. With our scouting network we already have players identified should the market dictate a need for us to react.
Scott Duxbury on Gino Pozzo’s role and the future:
Gino is not in any way trying to offend anyone [by not speaking often publicly]. He is very conscious that he is the owner of the football club and he leaves the running of the football club to me.
He is ever-present at the training ground and the best way to describe his role is as a technical director. His passion is recruitment and he is constantly looking at and developing the scouting network.
His long-term goal – as his family have owned Udinese for 27 years – is that he wants to own this club for a similar amount of time.
Myself and Gino are not just interested in building a football club that just retains its status, we want to be the best of the rest. We want to achieve success. It’s not about setting goals, it’s just about having ambition, and seeing where that can take you. We want to achieve something special.