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EFL FIXTURES: How can Watford FC earn promotion from the Championship next season?

 Published on: 26th June 2024   |   By: Nik Allen   |   Category: Watford FC

Many football fans and analysts believe the Championship is the most competitive league in England, and this opinion definitely carries weight in our view. Once you look beyond the supposed “evenness” of many other leagues, you quickly realise that there’s a crystallisation of big-spending teams who are constantly sitting at the top.

At the bottom of the leagues, clubs often find themselves being promoted only to be relegated again because of their financial inability to compete against the richer teams.

Watford has been one of these teams over the years, with the exuberant highs of promotion offsetting the despair of relegation. The Ferris wheel of fortune and misfortune can be a blessing and a curse for many teams who find themselves in this position.

Breaking free and getting a few years of experience in an upper-tier league can be a great starting point. However, this opportunity seems to elude almost all the yo-yo teams who find themselves going through the unsettling hysteria and subsequent financial burdens that come with quickfire promotion and relegation.

Are the Hornets promotion candidates next year?

Watford have found themselves at the unwanted end of the yo-yo cycle. They are back in the Championship, and if the most recent season is anything to go by, they are a long way from the chasing pack.

Tom Cleverley’s men look more likely to be relegation candidates. The early odds from the sportsbooks don’t seem to give them much of a chance of returning to the league they were relegated from in 2022. A season finish position of 15th has not instilled much positivity or optimism that they’ll be able to put their name among teams like Leeds United, which missed out by a whisker this year, and the teams relegated from the top league.

It might be too early to accurately predict whether Watford can earn promotion next year. Cleverley was appointed permanent manager in May after taking over in an interim capacity back in March. Hopefully, this will stop the bizarre managerial merry-go-round at the Hornets, who have had nearly two dozen managers in the last six years.

Cleverley will need to focus on recruitment, and it will likely take some time for him to morph the team into a unit that he is happy with. Despite many football owners expecting immediate success, these evolutions often require patience. Given that they were only five positions away from the relegation zone at the end of the last campaign, it does seem like too much to expect Watford to be promoted at the end of the 24/25 season.

Squad nucleus

The key for any team in the Championship looking to get themselves back to the top tier typically involves keeping the current squad nucleus. Mileta Rajović was the top scorer for the Hornets this season, and he will be looking to improve on his 10 goals in the league this campaign.

Another important player to consider is Colombian international Yaser Asprilla, whose goals and assist contributions put him on a pedestal as the standout player over any other Watford player. He’s still only 20 years old and has demonstrated that he has a lot more to come in his career. Out of the current crop at Watford, he appears to have the strongest case as a future top-tier player. Next season will be a big one for him.

Final thoughts

The Championship’s unpredictability makes it one of the most exhilarating leagues in world football. Although it’s hard to ignore the teams that missed out by a whisker this season, like Leeds United, the playoffs are all to play for.

The early odds seem to favour other teams ahead of the Hornets; if they can keep the squad nucleus and Tom Cleverley can add a few players in the transfer window, it could be the recipe for a potential promotion push.

A few components will need to come together. As with any team that manages to get a promotion, avoiding injuries is a good starting point. Combined with adding some value to the squad and some of their promotion rivals slipping up or failing to find form, they could stand a chance.

The Hornets could squeeze into that top six, but once Watford and the teams around them add to their squad in the summer transfer window, we should better understand how their season could shape up.

 

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