Watford’s encouraging five-game unbeaten run under new boss Giuseppe Sannino unfortunately came to dismal end at the Reebok stadium last weekend.
A performance littered with individual errors and a lack of cohesion across the Hornets ranks; put a dampener on what seemed to be an encouraging period in a stuttering season.
Sannino claimed after that disappointing defeat that he has been impressed with the defensive solidity of his freshly moulded Hornets side, but there are fears they are not offering enough going forward, especially away from home.
Despite winning their last five home games and conceding no goals in the process, the Hornets haven’t won away since early October.
This is a stark contrast to the emphatic away form the Hornets showed last season.
Our ability to put teams on the back foot and counter attack with the same devastating efficiency away from home has arguably declined since the departure of last season’s top scorer Matej Vydra.
Of course, it would be quite naïve to think Vydra moving on is the sole reason for the team’s recent fall from grace.
However, his pace and movement was a vital component of the Hornets attacking threat last season and hasn’t been replaced adequately by Gianfranco Zola or Sannino.
Vydra had the mobility to force opposition defences to drop deeper and allow Watford to stamp their authority on matches, something which they have struggled to do on a regular basis this campaign.
His telepathic understanding with Troy Deeney, who is only now returning back to his best form, led to the pair scoring an impressive 40 goals for the Hornets last season. Undoubtedly the little forward has left a huge void to fill.
After acquiring the likes of Javier Acuna, Diego Fabbrini and Mathias Ranegie, Watford are still to find a winning ticket from the Pozzo’s recruitment lottery.
The latter of the trio made an impressive home debut against Blackpool on Saturday grabbing a clinical brace.
Ranegie’s power and promising link up play with Deeney gave Watford an added dimension, albeit against a hapless Blackpool defence. However, it is still early days for the big Swedish striker.
Maybe it is time the Hornets start looking closer to home for a potential replacement.
In Sannino’s defence, January is not the easiest time, for any manager, to bring in a player that can make a genuine difference to the rest of their season. Look at Arsene Wenger.
Arguably though, it seems Watford had their replacement for Vydra before a ball was kicked this season. Britt Assombalonga.
Sold to Peterborough in the summer, Assombalonga has already netted on 24 occasions for the Posh.
Although we thought we saw the Pozzo’s well documented business savvy by securing first refusal on the forward, if he decided to leave the Posh, we are now the ones with egg on our faces.
In all the good that has come from the Pozzo’s takeover, their recruitment policy has resulted in an academy gem falling by the wayside.
While Deeney and Fernando Forestieri continue to show glimpses of what they can offer, the Hornets, without Vydra, are struggling to recreate the attacking form which carved open Championship defences last season.
The board will no doubt reassume their raid on the fringe players of Udinese and Granada this summer, but while they do, they miss out on the many suitable replacements the Football League has to offer.
After the Hornet’s ruthless victory over Blackpool, we now sit seven points off the play-offs with three very winnable fixtures on the horizon.
Watford will need to take their impressive home form under Sannino on the road, if they are to have any chance of reaching the play-off places come May.
Will the inefficiencies of Zola and Sannino in their respective transfer windows, lead to Watford settling for midtable mediocrity this season?
And if so, is it now time for Watford’s scouting network to be honed in on more familiar territory, that is the green, green grass of home?