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Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Zola: I must win over Hornets fans

ESPN staff

Gianfranco Zola admits he will have to win over Watford fans after being appointed as the new manager at Vicarage Road following the club's takeover by the Pozzo family.

Zola replaces former Watford defender Sean Dyche, who was sacked after guiding the Hornets to 11th place in the Championship in his first season in charge.

He was quick to voice his "respect and admiration" for the achievements of Dyche, who was a popular figure with the Watford support, and said: "Of course I have to [win over the fans]. I know that the person who was here before me has done very well, and to him goes my respect and my admiration.

"He has done a very good job, so for me the task will be difficult - but it has always been like that for me. It has always been a challenge since I started playing football.

"I told the players I will give everything I have got inside to make them a little bit better, and then we will see how results go. It is interesting. It is a challenge, and I take it."

Former West Ham manager Zola was quickly identified by the Pozzos as their No. 1 contender for the job as they look to steer Watford towards a Premier League return.

The new boss has said his first priority will to try to keep Player of the Year Adrian Mariappa, with the defender attracting interest from clubs including Premier League newcomers Reading.

"Adrian is a very good player and was one of the best last year,'' Zola said. "Obviously we want to keep him, but we understand it is not only our decision but also Adrian's.

"I understand he maybe has the possibility to go to the Premier League, and I won't step in front of him and stop him if he wants to go."

In a separate interview, Zola was at pains to stress that Watford would not be used as a feeder club for Italian Serie A side Udinese, a side also owned by the Pozzo family - along with La Liga side Granada.

"The idea is not to develop players here and send them to Udinese," he told the Evening Standard. "They [the owners] want to make Watford big, so I don't think that Watford will become a feeder club. I actually see it the other way around at the beginning.

"We are working for the good of the club and there is no doubt about that. If I didn't have that insurance, then I wouldn't be here. The Pozzo family have said they will use their resources to improve the situation here and I believe that.

"When you see what Udinese have achieved in the last few years, it is quite amazing. They keep producing players but they have been in the Champions League for a while. That is the policy of the owners. They have been very successful in Italy and Spain and they want to try to start a project over here, so hopefully it will work well."




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