By Tony Leighton
Watford manager Gianfranco Zola will send his mid-table npower Championship team out against second-placed Leicester City on Saturday aiming to put behind them two successive defeats and kick-start the Vicarage Road 'project' aimed at not just taking the Hornets up to the Premier League, but keeping them there.
Former West Ham United boss and Chelsea midfield wizard Zola is wisely refusing to put a time-frame on achieving the ambitious aim of Watford's new owners the Pozzo family, who also own Italian Serie A club Udinese and Granada of Spain's La Liga.
Instead the manager, appointed by the new owners at the start of the season, is concentrating on creating a team that will play in the pure footballing style that he epitomised so beautifully himself as a player and that will eventually produce the results required to take the Hornets up to the top flight.
Those results have not been forthcoming so far, but six of the seven defeats suffered have been by only a single goal. And with 30 players having been used in the 13 games played, it's perhaps understandable that Zola's men have not yet truly gelled.
The manager told football-league.co.uk: "It has not been easy for us so far, but fortunately I have got very good, very professional players who understand the situation and to be honest the season is going better than I though it might.
"I have a lot of young and improving players from abroad and some good young English players, too. They are learning week by week and we are improving as a team.
"We have lost the last two games but we were unfortunate in both. At Cardiff we had two players sent off yet they did not score the winning goal until stoppage time, and that was cruel because we had played so well. And although we were not at our best at Blackburn, again it was in stoppage time that the winner was scored.
"Now we play Leicester and that will be another difficult game against another very good side. But we have been very close to getting a result in our last two matches, and this time we will hopefully finish with the three points."
Three points would almost certainly lift the Hornets a few places up the table as they look to progress towards the promised land of the Premier League. Not that any short-term promises are being made by the optimistic but also realistic Zola.
"The project here is to get to the Premier League and became a big club," he said, "but we have time in front of us to do that.
"This season is a season of transition. We will of course be trying to move as high as we can in the table, but it is not the priority this season to win the League.