Marco Silva at Watford: Fan rapport, defence and Deeney needs sorting
Marco Silva is Watford's ninth coach in five years under the Pozzo family ownership of the club.
Here's five things the former Hull City boss must sort in order to buck the trend of short term appointments at Vicarage Road ...
1. Build a relationship with supporters
Watford supporters feel like they went an entire season without any meaningful contact from their head coach. Walter Mazzarri's perceived communication issues were well-documented, and when combined by his reserved, withdrawn personality, it meant he was always fighting an uphill battle when trying to forge a relationship with supporters. This made it harder for the Italian when results weren't going his way; the lack of goodwill among fans meaning he could rely on next to no support when he potentially needed it the most.
Silva should have no such problem. He has a superb grasp of English and after managing under difficult circumstances at Hull, will have a genuine understanding of the importance of getting, and then keeping, the supporters on his side. His appointment was almost exclusively met with enthusiasm from supporters and he'll need to build on this as the summer progresses.
2. Proactive communication
Part of Silva's charm offensive should include telling supporters about his vision and plans. A big aspect of the problems Mazzarri experienced was that he was never able to articulate how he wanted his side to play, or explain what his aim was for evolving and improving the squad. He was also ridiculed for a series of tone deaf postmatch appraisals, often claiming his side performed well despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Silva would benefit from avoiding similar traps -- honesty goes a long way when discussing performances.
3. Defensive reinforcements
Regular watchers of the Hornets will recognise defensive frailties that need to be addressed. No team in the Premier League conceded more goals from crosses (23) last season and a combination of injuries and poor form meant a solid and reliable centre-back pairing was never able to form. There were similar concerns across the defensive unit and Watford shipped an alarming number of goals despite Mazzarri's defensive and conservative approach.
An experienced centre-back will undoubtedly be top of Silva's wish-list, but if he is to get his Watford career off to a solid start, he'll need to be exploring other defensive options, too. Heurelho Gomes performed well last season but needs better protection.
4. Address the fitness issue
Watford started the final game of last season without a recognised centre-back, and a patched up side was brutally dissected 5-0 by a rampant Manchester City. This chastening experience was the culmination of a campaign that was beset with fitness issues. Mazzarri named the same starting XI in successive games just once, with key personnel missing at almost every turn.
Bad luck always plays a part in injuries but with a crisis of this magnitude, theories emerged the intense training regime may have played a part. This speculation was given credence when stories claimed the players were unhappy with the work expected of them between games. Whatever the reality, Silva will need to do all in his power to ensure that he has a fit squad to choose from as often as possible.
5. Sort out Troy Deeney's future
One of the biggest issues each summer has been confirming the future of the talismanic Deeney. In past years the club has refused large bids for a player that has been valuable for the Hornets on and off the pitch.
Losing the club captain has previously been unthinkable and as such, Deeney has been rewarded with a new contract for each of the past few seasons. Now, however, there is a feeling that perhaps the time is right for him to move on. This close season could represent Watford's last chance to achieve a sizeable transfer fee for the player, while it could also give Deeney the new challenge of proving himself away from the relative comfort of Vicarage Road.
If pressed, most supporters would want Deeney to stay, but after a turbulent time under former boss Mazzarri, he may well feel the time is right to move on while his stock remains high. Silva will have a major part to play in the decision and an early, decisive move will help the club plan for the new season while also providing supporters with the answer they crave.
Over to you, Marco...
Mike is ESPN FC's Watford blogger.