There is no reluctance or refusal from Watford to sign players for a fee, particularly when it comes to recruiting defenders.
I put that inference to chairman Scott Duxbury this week after many supporters had their heckles raised by a story that suggested the Hornets had withdrawn interest in Hull City’s Jacob Greaves when they were told the asking price would be between £5m and £7m.
“That is simply made up,” said Duxbury. “I find it really annoying having to explain a situation about a player that we’ve never even inquired about.
“That player wasn’t even on our radar. Rob chose the player he wanted to sign, we went and started working on that. It’s Rob’s choice, and I’m certainly not going to suggest he should sign someone else just because it means we have to pay a big fee for a player to show we’re willing to spend. That would be madness.
“Rob narrowed his search down to two players, both homegrown, left-sided defenders. He then selected the one he wanted, and we are working on that deal. The player you mentioned didn’t come into our considerations. I wouldn’t know what fee is being asked for him because I never made any inquiries about him.”
Duxbury said that while the club will happily pay fees in order to sign the players Edwards wants to bring in, they are also not averse to spotting a bargain.
“If we can get the player the head coach wants and we can get him for zero, why wouldn’t we want to do that?” he said.
“And it’s not a case of us saying to Rob he can only spend a certain amount or he has to only consider players that we might get for free either. He tells us the players he wants, and then we work to make it happen.
“Being clever in the transfer market isn’t a crime. Forest got promoted last season largely on the back of three loan players. There are many other teams who have spent fortunes in transfer fees. Is a club like Derby a model that we want to follow?”
Duxbury remains adamant that the squad the Hornets have is strong enough to achieve promotion back to the Premier League, especially under Edwards and with a totally different atmosphere in the dressing room.
“Dan Gosling was very right in what he said in his Watford Observer interview: the squad has been improved just by moving out one or two individuals,” he said.
“It’s also been greatly improved by the arrival of Rob Edwards. We have very good players like Joao Pedro and Louza who haven’t suddenly become bad players because we’ve been relegated.
“You’ve got players like Dele-Bashiru who had a very successful loan and is back here now. We’re starting to see the best of Kayembe because of the way we’re playing and the coach actually picking him. We invested heavily in Asprilla who we all feel is going to be a huge talent.”
There has been a summer of anticipation that some players would leave, particularly attacking players, and that the club would use those fees to strengthen the squad.
“As things stand, our attacking options are Pedro, Sarr, Dennis, Manaj and Bayo. I think that is a very strong set of options,” said Duxbury.
“That’s currently. We suspect at least one might leave, and so we’ve been working on options – that Rob has told us he wants – that would be ideal replacements to fit in with the style of football we intend to play. We’re prepared and ready to move when and if we have to.
“Money isn’t taken out of the club, and what we bring in we reinvest, whether that’s the playing squad or the infrastructure that supports it.
“If a player leaves, of course any fee we receive will be reinvested. If key players leave, of course they will be replaced. As it currently stands, we have a squad of a lot of very good players competing for 11 places.”