Football Manager 2018: Watford guide, player ratings & tactics

Watford are one of the few clubs who are closing the gap on the top six, can you take the Hornets into Europe on FM 2018?

Alastair Pusinelli by Alastair Pusinelli

Watford are becoming an established Premier League, with the current campaign looking to be the best in the club’s history. Last season was a slight wobble for Hornets, finishing 17th in the table. Can you take charge of the club instead of Marco Silva and take to their first ever top half PL finish? Their squad is reliable and large, so with a couple of signings, the top 10 will be firmly within your grasp. 

Philosophies

In their current spell in the Premier League, Watford are just two seasons in, so there are no philosophies you need to follow. Just simply keep this side in the top tier. 

Expectations

Watford owner Gino Pozzo will welcome you to the club and present what the board expects from you this season. You can adjust these targets, but the default is to finish mid-table in the Premier League, reach the fifth round of the FA Cup and make the fourth round of the Carabao Cup. 

Going for more ambitious targets will put more cash in your transfer budget, with a top-half finishing getting you an extra £1.4 million and targeting trips to both cup quarterfinals providing an extra £500,000. 

Budget

Transfer £8 million

Wage: £1.21m per week (Current spend: £1.16m)

Formation

New Watford manager Marco Silva has kept the five at the back system that Walter Mazzarri brought in last season, but we have decided to ditch this in favour of the more conventional 4-3-3. When Roberto Pereyra returns from injury, you can switch this to a more attacking 4-2-3-1. 

Heurelho Gomes is in goal, with Daryl Janmaat, Sebastian Prodl, Miguel Britos and Jose Holebas in the back four.

Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Nathaniel Chalobah are the midfield trio, as Andre Carrillo and Richarlison take up the wide positions. Andre Gray leads the line in the absence of injured captain Troy Deeney. 

Key players

Watford have signed exceptionally well since winning promotion to the Premier League in 2015. The squad is strong, with various options in almost every position.

Roberto Pereyra – CA 4 star (148), PA 4 star (156)

Joining from Juventus last season, Watford fans are still yet to see Roberto Pereyra in full flow. The attacking midfielder struggled with injury since signing, but he has shown in flashes why he made the £11 million move to Vicarage Road. On FM 18, the Argentine international has a 148 current ability rating, which can rise to a potential of 156. The 26-year-old best attributes include 18 versatility, 17 technique and 16 off the ball. 

Etienne Capoue – CA 4 star (144), PA 4 star (148)

Etienne Capoue was Watford’s star man last season, with the defensive midfielder surging forward and grabbing seven goals in the Premier League. The former Spurs player gets the balance between defence and attack spot on, and with a 144 current ability rating on FM 2018, he is one of the key men for your side. His 16 technique, 16 natural fitness and 16 work rate attributes can still improve has he closes in on a 148 potential. 

Troy Deeney – CA 3.5 star (141), PA 3.5 star (145)

Watford’s captain Troy Deeney sets the tone for the side. His bullish nature up front makes him a real handful for defenders, and he doesn’t need to be asked twice when in front of goal. The striker has a 141 CA on the game, and the 29-year-old Deeney can still grow to a 145 potential. 

Young talent

Names such as England internationals John Barnes, David James and Ashley Young have come through Watford’s academy. Now can a player come through the youth setup and stay with the club for the long haul. 

Jerome Sinclair – CA 2 star (96), PA 2-3 star (110-140)

Jerome Sinclair left Liverpool in 2016 in search of first team football at Watford, and at the age of 21, it is now or never for the striker. On the game, his 96 CA puts him out of first team conventional, but his potential between 110 and 140 is enough to keep him at a club. 

Michael Folivi – CA 1.5 star (92), PA 3-4 star (110-140)

In a similar boat to Jerome Sinclair, Michael Folivi is another striker trying to make it at The Hornets. The 19-year-old made his only appearance for the club last season, and has since been sent out on loan to non-league outfit Boreham Wood. His abilities his perhaps more reflective of a League One side, but he will need a few seasons out on loan before he can even begin to pick up PL appearance. Folivi has a 92 CA, rising to a potential as high as 140. 

Dion Pereira – CA 1.5 star (90), PA 3.5-4.5 star (110-140)

At the age of just 18, it was impressive for the young Dion Pereira to pick up two Premier League appearances last season, and the Portuguese-born Englishman is tipped for a big future. On FM, his 90 CA perhaps needs a couple of seasons away on loan as he grows towards his potential between 110 and 140. 

Team report


Strengths Weaknesses
Youth Prospects Transfer budget
Overall Depth Decisions
Central Midfield Depth First touch
Attacking midfield depth Passing
Star midfielder (Roberto Pereyra) Leadership
Attack depth Aggression
Star goalkeeper (Heurelho Gomes)
Strength
Jumping reach
Wage budget

Dynamics

Team leaders –  Troy Deeney (C), Heurelho Gomes

Highly influential – Tom Cleverley, Craig Cathcart, Sebastian Prodl, Ben Watson

Dynamics is the key new feature for Football Manager 2018. It depicts the atmosphere inside the dressing room at the club, and if the morale at the club is low, the performances on the pitch will deteriorate. Your influential players will sway the other members of the squad, so as long as you keep them happy, you should still have a hold of the dressing room.

Transfer targets

£8 million is barely anything in today’s transfer market, so you will need to sign shrewdly. You may consider selling a couple of players to increase the size of your budget. 

Right winger – Cristian Pavon (CA 137, PA 160)

Linked with a move to Arsenal, Cristian Pavon would be a fantastic signing for Watford, with a lack of quality wide options at the club. The Argentine international can be signed on Football Manager for just £7 million, with the Boca Juniors star currently earning just £4,400 a week. His useful 137 CA would put him straight in the Watford starting line-up, with his potential of 160 able to make him the best player at the club. His best attributes include 15 pressure, 15 bravery and 15 pace.

Alternative options

  • Lautaro Acosta – Age 29, Lanus, Argentina, CA 145, PA 145, Cost: £1m, Wage: £9k
  • Sofiane Feghouli – Age 27, Galatasaray, Algeria, CA 142, PA 155, Cost: £7m, Wage: £77k
  • Ricardo Quaresma – Age 33, Besiktas, Portugal, CA 140, PA 155, Cost: £2m, Wage: £38k
  • Hernan Perez – Ag3 28, Espanyol, Paraguay, CA 136, PA 150, Cost: £6m, Wage: £20k

Players to sell

With a deep squad, you can afford to offload a couple of your fringe players, but do remember you will start the season with six injuries. It may then be wise to wait until January before thinning out the roster.

Ben Watson

Not a bad player by any means, but with the amount of options Watford have in central midfield, Ben Watson will struggle for a game-time. With the 32-year-old holding a current ability score of 134, you can sell him for £3.5 million, and free up £4,400 a week in your wage budget.

Younes Kaboul

It’s a similar situation for centre back Younes Kaboul. If you opt against the three at the back system, the Premier League stalwart will barely feature for The Hornets so you can afford to sell him. The 31-year-old’s 133 rating will collect you £8 million on the transfer market and save you £35,000 a week in wages.

Finances

At large, the financial situation at Watford looks strong. The overall balance of the club is on the up, and you could have as much as £60 million in your transfer budget at the start of next season. However, the club’s profits are set to turn to a loss at the end of 2018 and only look set to deteriorate. This is perhaps down to five sets of loans that need to be paid off, the last of which will be completed in 2022. 

Close the gap

Watford’s board have been notorious for changing their manager season-on-season, with the ambition of becoming an established Premier League club and clear of relegation. Although last season was a bump in their road, their three managers in as many PL seasons has worked, and you now have the platform to take them into the top half. With a deep squad, you should have a fairly solid season, and a strong start to the campaign could even allow you to target one of the cup competitions. 

Watford first team squad, player roles and ratings

Player
Age
Pos
Role
Duty
Role   Ability
CA/
PA
Starting lineup
Heurelho Gomes 36 GK Sweeper keeper Attack 3.5 star 136/
141
Daryl Janmaat 28 DR Wing-back Defend 3 star 137/
147
Sebastian Prodl 30 DCR Defensive centre back Any 3 star 134/
138
Miguel Britos 32 DCL Central defender Defend 3 star 136/
140
Jose Holebas 33 DL Full-back/
winger
Attack/
support
3 star 135/
145
Etienne Capoue 29 DM Deep lying playmaker/
carrilero
Defend/
support
4 star 144/
148
Abdoulaye Doucoure 24 MCR Mezzala/
box to box midfielder/
carrilero
Support 3.5 star 141/
160
Nathaniel Chalobah 22 MCL Deep lying playmaker Defend 3.5 star 138/
156
Andre Carrillo 26 AMR Winger Support 3 star 131/
140
Richarlison 20 AML Winger Support 3.5 star 136/
160
Andre Gray 26 STC Advanced forward Attack 3 star 134/
145
Substitutes
Orestis Karnezis 32 GK Goalkeeper Defend 3 star 133/
139
Molla Wague 26 D (RC) Defensive centre back Any 3 star 118/
135
Kiko Femenia 26 D (R)
WB (R)
M (R)
AM (RL)
Winger Support 3 star 131/
136
Will Hughes 22 DM
M (C)
AM (C)
Advanced playmaker Support 3.5 star 135/
160
Tom Cleverley 27 M (C)
AM (C)
Central midfielder/
deep lying playmaker/
mezzala
Automatic/
support
3.5 star 137/
145
Marvin Zeegelaar 26 D (L)
M (L)
AM (L)
Winger Support 3 star 128/
137
Stefano Okaka 27 ST (C) Target man Support 3 star 128/
131
Reserves
Ben Watson 32 DM
M (C)
Deep lying playmaker Defend 3 star 134/
137
Isaac Success 21 M (L)
AM (L)
ST (C)
Winger Attack 3 star 130/
161
Injured
Christian Kabasele 26 D (C) Ball playing defender Stopper 3 star 135/
145
Younes Kaboul 31 D (C) Defensive centre back Any 3 star 133/
150
Craig Cathcart 32 D (LC) Defensive centre back Any 3 star 135/
138
Brice Dja Djedje 28 D (R)
WB (R)
Full-back Attack 3 star 128/
132
Roberto Pereyra 26 M (RC)
AM (RC)
Advanced
playmaker
Attack 4 star 148/
156
Troy Deeney 29 ST (C) Defensive forward Support/
defend
3.5 star 141/
145


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Alastair Pusinelli

First console: GameBoy Color / Favourite Game: Assassin's Creed 2 / Currently playing: Football Manager 2020

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