Rob Edwards is trying to bring unity in the Watford dressing room… I’ve never had that here

Ken Sema tells Standard Sport why Watford's dressing room has been revamped (Getty Images)

Ken Sema tells Standard Sport why Watford’s dressing room has been revamped (Getty Images)

Ken Sema has been at Watford long enough to know how things work.

Players and managers come and go regularly, and while such a model has proved largely successful over the years, it makes it difficult to create a sense of unity within the squad.

Last season there was certainly very little of that when Watford were relegated from the Premier League. The club had three head coaches during a turbulent campaign, with midfielder Dan Gosling recently describing it as “easily the worst dressing room I’ve ever been a part of”.

However, new manager Rob Edwards is trying to change that and unite the squad.

Sema has been at Watford for four years, and this summer was the first time he can remember taking part in team-bonding activities, with the squad on rafting. Team dinners have also taken place and players have been encouraged to talk about life away from football so they can build connections.

“We haven’t done that much at this club because of the change of manager,” says Sema Standard Sport.

“Sometimes people are here for three months and they don’t have time to do team activities because they are focused on getting results.

“Rob is trying, but it will take time. You can’t believe that it will change today and suddenly everything is just amazing. But this way it looks and feels like it’s the right way.

“It is very important not only to have good players, but also to have good people. It’s the person that makes the player, it’s not the player that makes the person, for me.

“You can have a player who is decent but a great person and the player will grow. But if you take a player who is very, very good – but as a person he doesn’t quite fit the team – it will be like a bad apple for the group.”

Rob Edwards is the new man in charge at Watford (Getty Images)

Rob Edwards is the new man in charge at Watford (Getty Images)

Some of the difficulty in creating a cohesive group comes from players who are all different nationalities. Sema admits that players naturally gravitate towards those from the same place, but it is a feeling that could change now after the pain of relegation last season.

“When you’re in the Premier League again you have all that buzz, but then it was a really bad season,” he says.

“We had three coaches in one season and you can’t really do that to get the results. You have to have one game plan, maybe two, but three is a bit much – and there were three completely different coaches.

“Xisco [Munoz] was energetic, smiled a lot, all about happiness and trying to be the best version of yourself. [Claudio] Ranieri was experienced, he had won the Premier League before, he had been involved, and he was a bit old-fashioned. It was a different path than Xisco.

“Roy [Hodgson] was also completely different from Xisco, but when he came, he came to try and save the team – but the team was in a bad place already.

Roy Hodgson (PA Wire)

Roy Hodgson (PA Wire)

“People were against each other. Some players who didn’t play were very angry. So when he came in it felt like there was already bad air and he was trying to fix it, but maybe he was too late.”

The mood has lifted under Edwards, who the players have warmed to because of his personal approach. Sema says it reminds him of when Xisco was appointed, with the Spaniard particularly popular with the squad.

Edwards has also spent time drilling players into his footballing philosophy, with the young manager eager for Watford to attack. It will certainly be music to the ears of fans at Vicarage Road, who had to endure the team losing 15 of their 19 home games in the Premier League last season.

“It was bad. You can be honest, it was terrible,” says Sema, when asked about the difficult home form.

“I’ve been here a long time and last time we played in the Championship; the home field was our field. We couldn’t really lose at home. So we knew at home that we would beat all the teams with confidence.

I still think our home is very special, we have to beat teams at home.

“In the Premier League it was the opposite, at the end of the season it felt like bad air. You couldn’t do anything at home and home used to be our safe place. But I still think our home is very special. We can’t complain about anything and we have to beat teams at home.

The hope is that may change in the Championship, with Watford kicking off the season against Sheffield United at Vicarage Road on Monday night.

“Rob is a good guy and he likes to create a group that will try to get closer to each other,” says Sema. “He’s trying to create something special.”

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