The first de ja vu feeling is from a time that I actually don't remember originally but have, of course, read and heard a whole lot about most recently and most comprehensively courtesy of Lionel Birnie's wonderful book 'Enjoy the Game'. Then, a flambouyant rock star managed to persuade the then incumbent Lincoln City manager into moving down a division to take charge of a Fourth Division club that he wanted to take into Europe. To quote directly from Birnie "Graham Taylor's appointment did not spark a rash of celebratory street parties in Watford". What followed (about half of which luckily I do remember) was wonderful and the best thing ever to happen to our club.
The second is of a time I remember all too well. With terrible timing given that the greatest manager in our history hadn't even vacated his desk a great new dawn was announced in the form of an Italian manager who was about to parachute our club into an amazing new era of success. Some fans were so excited that they even chanted the man's name during God's final game in charge at Turf Moor before they were quickly persuaded that it was neither the time nor the place. That summer many articles appeared using words such as 'Forza' and Gianluca Vialli was greeted to his first match in charge with the words 'Buon giorno' gracing the programme. Around about the same time he called us 'the Manchester United of the division'. What followed was awful and almost led to the end of our club.
Which road will the Pozzo's take us down? The Yellow Brick one that Elton took or are we all getting far too carried away? Possibly but I think its totally understandable given the various dire straits we've been in off the pitch in recent years.
Partly I think the excitement is really relief that Bas is no longer part of our club. I don't say that in anyway to criticise or condemn him but just as a matter of fact. Whilst I'm obviously not privy to the intricate details of our accounts or 'that' safe, from this distance it appears that, as you'd want from someone who borrowed your favourite possession, he has actually left it pretty much as he found it. He added a pub, got a new big screen (although its picture quality is still as poor as ever and am I right in thinking he did claim to have bought two so we'd have one at each end of the ground?), upgraded the speakers and has just got round to sorting out the pitch. The relief is that nothing truly untoward happened during his 14 months tenure when he seemed to possess similar PR skills to some other notable former club owners whose recent charges were left with points deductions or worse.
The excitement is also imagining what being part of the Pozzo family may bring us. I think we should be cautious with this because so far they've not made clear any of their intentions but going on the evidence of the two clubs they've taken over to date it does look encouraging. Udinese took a few goes to establish themselves in Serie A but are now long term members and their ball is starting to become a regular in the hat of UEFA's competitions. Granada are clearly a lot further behind in the timeline of development but they have already achieved the feat of promotion to the La Liga and followed it up with the more difficult proposition of consoladating their position for a second season.
But whilst the prospect of European football coming back to the the Vic is as thrilling and absurd as it was 30 years ago that other emotion continues to niggle at me. And its a nasty uncomfortable one that I've tried not to think about too much but which I'll reluctantly confront here. It's that I do feel the set up we are entering into seems a little bit, well, franchise-ish. Not as in a moving 60 miles MK Dons way but in a developing a chain McDonalds way.
Because, lets be honest, being one in a portfolio of three isn't what any of us would choose in an ideal world. I'm not even sure that many of us would choose that set up if it was guaranteed Watford would be the top dog. What would happen to the other clubs unfortunate enough to be the feeders? Isn't that why we have reserves (not that we really do at the moment, I know).
What will being one of three mean in priniciple? At the moment the major league team (and I use the baseball term on purpose) is obviously Udinese having been owned by the Pozzo's since the 1980's and now able to reach the heights of the Champions League. Is it likely to remain that way with Watford and Granada always some way behind? It's been said that the top dog may depend on who is in the most financially lucrative league. I think there is probably some truth in this given that it can't be coincidence that the Pozzo's have managed to invest in teams with the potential to reach and remain in the three richest football divisions/leagues in the world. Could there come a day when Watford is the flagship? With the Premier League being the greedy, money-grabbing, over-inflated cash cow that it is I guess its more than possible.
But even if that never happens and we remain a feeder the realist in me understands that we should just probably just accept that its for the best. After all you could argue that as a selling club who relies on loan players we've been an unofficial farm team for a while. This agreement merely makes things a bit more official.
If the Pozzo's hadn't come in all the other realistic scenarios that could have played out would probably have been a whole lot worse and I guess its long overdue that I accept that the dreamland scenario of Elton funding us again or a new Elton turning up is not going to happen. He has done far more than his fair share and will forever remain a Watford legend. Those other questionable characters who've tried to walk in his footsteps are barely worthy of mention.
So I welcome the takeover. Not for the prospects it brings but because if I consider what is the most important thing to me about Watford I'd answer that it's survival comes first. This deal seems to indicate that for the first time since we last had an Italian ex-Chelsea player involved our financial situation is stable. If in the longer term there might be a way we could go back to being a financially secure sole entity that will be the time to start the celebratory street parties, but this will do for now.