First up, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? How long have you been living in Granada now?
I moved to Granada province in Spain eight years ago and love it here! I quickly started following Spanish football and began following Granada CF during the 2005/2006 season, when they were in the Tercera Division -the fourth tier of Spanish football. I'm a writer for www.elcentrocampista.com and www.insidespanishfootball.com along with various other online and printed media.
Recently I wrote a piece for The Watford Observer, providing a background on Granada CF and how the Pozzo family ownership has been positive for them. I also recorded a podcast with "From The Rookery End" a couple of weeks ago too.
I'm also now involved with the Granada CF in an official capacity, working with GrupoGCG (the media arm of the club) and I also run the official English language Twitter account - @GranadaCdeF_en
Something I would like to do, is develop the relationship between the fans of the three clubs. For example, I think it would be great to see the shirts for all three clubs, on sale in the official stores of each club. Perhaps some competitions for match day trips for fans, to visit the other clubs... there's countless possibilities. After all, we're in somewhat of a unique relationship in world football.
Obviously it's well documented about the Pozzo family of ourselves, Granada and Udinese, but what was the general feeling amongst Granada support when it happened?
Granada fans were generally pleased about the move. For them, they now have English "brothers", as well as Italian "brothers" to follow. I regularly speak with fans who are looking forward to Watford enjoying the sort of success that Udinese and Granada have.
Most Spaniards love English football and the Premier League, so obviously the Granada fans would be delighted to see Watford get there.
How did the first season go under the new regime? What's in store for us?!
Granada CF were literally two weeks from closure in the summer of 2009, when the Pozzo family arrived. Whilst there was inevitable scepticism amongst fans, they were at least happy to see their club survive.
There were lots of changes and new player arrivals, most notably all the players loaned from Udinese, as well as a new board to run the club. The start to the campaign was somewhat sluggish and by New-Year of the 2009/2010 campaign, manage Tomé was replaced by Fabri Gónzalez, a proven manager with a track record of promotions with clubs in lower divisions.
He managed to steer the team to the top of the Segunda B4 and to ultimate victory, in the somewhat convoluted Spanish promotion play-offs. Granada also won the overall Segunda B title.
As for what's in store for Watford FC, we've already seen major changes in a short space of time. Sean Dyche was clearly a popular manager and some may feel aggrieved he was replaced with Franco Zola. The changes in the management team, as well as in the boardroom, would suggest the
Pozzo family want to ensure they make the best start possible. The best chance for that, is to clear the slate and appoint people they feel comfortable working with.
There have already been a lot of new player arrivals too. The Pozzo family will obviously want to see the club push for promotion to the
Premier League, therefore they're sending players they feel can help that push. The Championship is a very tough division and whilst there's no guarantees of immediate promotion, that will obviously be the direction they're looking.
From what you know of the Pozzo experience, what do you think the future holds for our striker Troy Deeney, currently in jail for affray?
Difficult to say. He's been given a squad number from what I've seen, which would suggest the intention is to retain him. I would think they will leave the decision to Zola and the coaching team though. If he has the ability, he will be given a chance to redeem himself on the football pitch, once his sentence is over. Otherwise, they could possibly loan him out.
There haven't been any problems with any Granada CF players like that, so it's hard to make any direct comparisons. When Chile international Orellana fell out with then manager Fabri, he was loaned out to Celta Vigo. He was superb there and since coming back to Granada in pre-season, has been marvellous. He has developed as a player and matured as a person.
When Granada (or Watford) get to the same sort of level that Udinese are at, where do you think the Pozzo's loyalties will lie?
Obviously something that every Granada and Watford fan hopes to see one day!
Success and potential European qualification would be fantastic for all three clubs. It would certainly be in the best interests of the Pozzo family and their "investment" in the three clubs too.
I don't think it's a question of "loyalty" to any of the three clubs in particular, but more a case of practicality. Most of you may be aware that under UEFA rules, multiple clubs with the same owners cannot compete in the same competition. How the Pozzo family would overcome that obstacle would be interesting to observe, but difficult to predict exactly how they would do it. Without checking the exact wording of the UEFA rules, they may be able to transfer ownership of a club, perhaps to the directors they've already appointed.
One way or another, I believe they would still retain an interest in some form, in all three clubs.
Could it get to the point where all three teams are just treated as one big squad with players freely moving around them where needed?
There's already evidence of that, given the sheer quantity of players contracted to the three clubs. This is both beneficial to the three clubs, whilst interestingly, attractive to players.
Do you know if the Pozzo network has had any trouble signing English speaking prospects in the past?
Not that I can think of. For many players of different nationalities these days, English is often a normal second language. Many non-English clubs actually encourage English as a second language
There are many reasons we believe they've chosen us to join part of this project, but could it be that they see obtaining Watford as a way of opening doors to players who don't fancy Italy/Spain?
That's certainly one possibility. There's a lot of players out there who aspire to playing in English football. The Premier League is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, leagues in world football. The Premier League is undoubtedly the target for the Pozzo family with Watford.
We also have to consider something pretty obvious too... that the Premier League has the fairest distribution of money, as well as the highest of any league in world football. Something to note for example, is that whilst Granada CF will get around €14 million from TV money distribution in La Liga this year, the last team in the Premier League this season, will get around £61 million. Udinese don't generate much income from TV rights either.
Like it or not, modern football is a business. Having a club in the English Premier League will offer a fantastic return on their current investment at Watford. If Watford get there, they'll benefit and will be fully supported to stay there, but the Pozzo family and their investors will also be reaping the rewards. This is no different to ownership and investment in most clubs in football today.
Has there ever been evidence of Granada players going to Udinese on loan? Could we see some of our most talented youngsters used on the continent?
At the moment, there are five Granada CF contracted players at Udinese on loan, along with those at Watford FC. I suspect it's simply a matter of convenience, whilst not forgetting that every player is an "investment". Certainly having a "shop window" in three different countries is attractive for everyone concerned.
It's too early to say if the best and brightest young players at Watford FC will see moves to Udinese or Granada CF in the future, but I don't think we could ever rule it out. Ultimately, it depends upon the suitability and adaptability of the players themselves.
Do you know if the Pozzo's will be looking to expand their network even further into other countries?
They have clubs in arguably the three most important leagues in European football now. I don't think anyone can ever rule out moves for clubs in France or Germany (for example) in the future, but I would think it's unlikely for a good few years.
Vicarage Road is severely lacking in some areas, we need a new corner, new facilities and a new stand, we've been advised that this probably won't happen until we're promoted, how quick did this sort of work happen for Granada?
At Granada it's somewhat more complicated than at Watford. Like many European clubs, they don't own the stadium and it belongs to the local municipal authority. Whilst the local authority approved filling the corners at Nuevo Los Cármenes, these seats are only temporary. Granada do have to contribute significantly to the running costs of the stadium, including the installation of a new video scoreboard this season.
The biggest problem for Granada has been trying to get a proper training complex built. They've been negotiating with the various
regional bodies, trying to sort this out, but it's a lengthy and complicated process. A proper training complex is integral to the growth of the club though, so there has been mention they may foot 100% of the costs to see it happen.
If the Pozzo family have suggested there will be improvements at Vicarage Road though, then I would imagine they will keep to their word. Again, such an "investment" will bring further returns in the future, once Watford reach the Premier League.
What's going to happen when Granada, Watford and Udinese are all in the Champions League Semi Finals?!
As I mentioned earlier, there's a practical problem with that, insofar at currently, one owner or group of owners, can't own more than one team in a European competition. If they manage to find a way around the logistics of the regulations though... wouldn't it be marvellous to see!
Do Granada still produce their own youth products, or is it primarily drafted in young acquisitions?
One of the most pleasing things to see since the arrival of the Pozzo family, has been the investment and attention paid to the youth system at Granada. Just like the first team, the B team and youth teams have enjoyed remarkable success and growth in the last three years.
The B team is now in the Tercera, where the first team were just several years ago. The Juvenil A, B, and C teams play at the highest levels they can nationally and regionally. The club has youth teams at every age group, from as young as six years old. All are doing superbly in their respective leagues.
At the moment, most of the best young players at the club are being brought in from externally. We're probably still a few years from seeing players come up to the first team just yet, but the signs are there that the right progress is being made. Ultimately a good youth system is
fundamental to long term success and this isn't lost on anyone at Granada CF, or the Pozzo family.
Something interesting to mention though... During the 2010/2011 season, a lot of youth internationals of various nationalities, arrived from
Udinese to play for the Granada B team, in an attempt to push for quick promotion to the Tercera from their regional division. The plan backfired spectacularly and the team finished a poor 7th place. Last season, a different approach was taken and 90% of the B team players were from Granada province. They comfortably won their league and promotion to the Tercera. This has enhanced the club's policy of working with local players, though they have broadened their horizons a little further afield and into neighbouring provinces.
This may perhaps give an example of "lessons learned" in Granada, which will be adopted at Watford, thus alleviating fears that there will be a sudden flood of foreign players, into the Watford youth system. There may be some, but I don't think the Pozzo family will want to break something that already seems to be doing very well at Watford.