WHEN Sean Dyche takes up his position in the tech-nical area on Saturday there will be something surreally familiar.
To mark his new club’s self-styled ‘Dychember’ movement, a fixture against his former employers and a ticket promotion to boost the attendance for the last home game before Christmas, up to 10,000 ‘lookalikes’ will be staring back at him.
He has seen the funny side of the mass produced masks of his goatee beards.
His old club, however, will look distinctly different, and in the grand scheme of football, it is no laughing matter.
Dyche’s dismissal from Vicarage Road in the summer was met with widespread disappointment, given what he had achieved in the first season of his first managerial job.
Sadly, it was not met with complete shock.
When the Pozzo family completed their takeover there seemed an almost inevitability about his exit, despite guiding them, on a restricted budget, to an 11th placed finish – a club best for four years – simply because he was not Gianfranco Zola.
There has been an almost complete overhaul of the then largely British playing staff by the Italian owners too.
Watford have 32 players on their books, including 14 on loan.
One is from Chelsea, 10 are from Serie A side Udinese, who also happen to be Pozzo-owned.
This is in stark contrast to the Hornets last season celebrating the 50th youngster to progress from youth team protege to professional since 1998.
In the current climate it’s impossible to see the next half century being achieved in double the time, let alone 14 years. What happens when these loan deals expire, where do Watford go then?
Clarets fans might question why they should care, why this concerns them. In some senses it shouldn’t.
It’s not their problem.
But in a wider sense, it is, because the situation is concerning for football.
There are restrictions on how many loan players you can field from domestic clubs, but not those from overseas, so there is nothing ‘legally’ wrong in Watford’s policy. Ethically and morally, however – well, that’s a different matter.
For all the focus on EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) and the theory that it will help produce better players for England, what use is it if their route to the senior squad is blocked by imports, albeit temporary ones.
When those players return to their parent clubs, others can be sent out.
There is nothing, at present, to stop other clubs following suit, which would leave the Football League becoming a finishing school for foreign teams.
There is no future in that.