Watford's foreign loan policy not good for English football says Bristol City boss Sean O'Driscoll
Bristol City head coach Sean O'Driscoll fears Watford's policy of recruiting overseas players on loan is detrimental to English football.
Watford's dressing room resembles football's equivalent of the United Nations this season, with a total of 12 players having been recruited from foreign clubs on a short-term basis.
No fewer than seven of those named in manager Gianfranco Zola's starting line-up at Nottingham Forest on Saturday were overseas players and, while the experiment is clearly working wonders for the promotion-chasing Hornets, O'Driscoll believes it is denying home-grown products an opportunity to establish themselves.
Speaking ahead of tonight's rearranged Championship clash between City and Watford at Ashton Gate, O'Driscoll said: "To bring in that many loan players from abroad may be within the rules, but I'm not sure it is good for the English game.
"You can only have five domestic loan signings in a team at any one time, but there is no limit on foreign loans.
"It cannot be good for domestic players in this country when you can put together a team made up entirely of overseas loans.
"It took Watford a while to get it going properly, but they have brought in some really good players and they are probably the form team in the division with four wins on the bounce."
Watford's approach will be very different from that adopted by Ipswich Town at the weekend and O'Driscoll is warning his players to "be smart."
He explained: "They play a Continental style and that does not happen very often in Ebnglish football. They prefer to play from the goalkeeper through the entire team and that can be difficult to play against.
"Everybody is comfortable on the ball and every players always has options when they have the ball. The game is a hell of a lot easier when you have two or three team-mates you can pass the ball to and they do it really well.
"Their front two (Matej Vydra and Troy Deeney) have been excellent and they have a midfield trio that dominate possession."
Although O'Driscoll will again use the players who have featured in his squad against Leeds and Ipswich, he is likely to adopt an altogether different game-plan to combat the Hornets.
He said: "Watford have a style they are comfortable with and understand and nobody has really solved the problem.
"We are pigeon-holed in English football to be gung-ho and the first thing you do when you get the ball is smash it forward. When you don't have it, the first thing you do is run and chase people and tackle, because that is what we have been brought up to do.
"When you get a foreign manager like Gianfranco and foreign players, they don't do that. They are waiting for you to do it, because that is what happens in English football. If you play like a typical English team, then you can have problems.
"There is no point in us trying to match them; we have to understand that is there strength and find a way to negate it at the same time as giving them problems."