The new Watford manager will face Liverpool in his first match and will count on the Nigerian players early on.
Claudio Ranieri has officially taken Xisco Munoz‘s place in the Watford dugout after his appointment was officially confirmed by the club last week.
The decision to replace the Spaniard after an encouraging start to their Premier League campaign may be a strange one, but the mission remains the same. To ensure that Watford lose their designated tag as relegation stragglers and delivering some exciting football to the Vicarage Road Stadium faithful.
Watford currently lie 15th on the Premier League table and will require a considerable amount of the former Leicester City manager’s tactical nous if they are to make a mark this season. Ranieri will also need to work with the team’s existing players, a crop that is blessed with the most exciting talent that Watford has seen in a while.
With emerging talents like Emmanuel Dennis, Ismaila Sarr and Josh King already catching the eye with their recent performances, although navigating through a mini-crisis in the defensive part of the pitch with injuries to important players will prove a challenge.
Ranieri himself has said:
“I am very happy to play in one of the best leagues in the world. I am an ambitious man and I hope to bring Watford to be safe at the end of the season and to improve.
“We have to be safe. The program is very ambitious and then I hope it will be a fantastic end for Watford and our fans.”
To achieve this stability, he will have to count on the stability that players like William Troost-Ekong already provide in the center of defense. The Super Eagles defender has earned a solid spot in the heart of the Watford defense through his efforts and contributions towards the team’s Premier League promotion.
This in addition to the eye-catching performances Dennis has served upfront since his arrival will mean the Nigerians will play a very key part in getting Ranieri’s plan off the ground.
The fixture against Liverpool will be one of the sternest tests of the Premier League-winning manager’s Watford career but will be a good start to know just where the bulk of his work lies.
The conspicuous absence of Etebo will be felt as he also proved himself a solid hand in providing a screen to buffer the defense before he succumbed to injury.
Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.
Follow him on Twitter @theReal_SeyE
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