The Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd admitted yesterday that he would think twice before signing foreign players as he plots his team's course through the Premiership.
While many clubs in the top flight have multinational squads, Boothroyd had only three players - the American centre-back Jay DeMerit, the Nigerian defender Dan Shittu and the French winger Hameur Bouazza - born outside Britain in his starting line-up for Tuesday night's 1-1 draw against West Ham United, and all three have spent at least two seasons in English football.
Boothroyd brought in the young Hungarian striker Tamas Priskin during the summer, and also has the midfielder Al Bangura, from Sierra Leone, and the Frenchmen Toumani Diagouraga in his senior squad - but believes that signing players who are not fluent in English presents a bigger challenge than bringing in those who are.
"It's very difficult to get foreign players in if you don't have the systems in place to set them up," Boothroyd said. "We brought in Tamas Priskin, but I have to work extra hard to make sure he fits into the environment, because he speaks a different language. He has some fantastic talent - but that's not enough. He needs to feel part of it.
"I like to communicate and I like players to communicate with me. It's very difficult if you can't understand each other. I might tell a player to go to warm up, but he might think I have told him to go to sit in the stand."
Boothroyd's men, promoted from the Champion-ship last season, have done well enough in their opening two Premiership matches to suggest they will be able to cope with top-flight football.
Although the Hornets have collected only one point from matches against Everton and West Ham, they competed strongly in both fixtures - and Hammers boss Alan Pardew said his team had been fortunate not to lose.
Boothroyd is keen to sign a forward and a winger before the transfer window closes - and both are likely to have a strong working knowledge of English football and the language.
"We took a player from Spain - Sietes - last summer, who had a great pedigree when you consider we were only in the Championship," Boothroyd continued.
"He had played in La Liga, but he was released in March. I felt he had let himself down - but we let him down. We didn't do enough to help him to settle into the system, and it's a lesson we've learned from."
The West Ham manager Pardew, meanwhile, has been linked strongly with a £2.5m bid for Fulham's unsettled midfielder, Steed Malbranque - and remains quietly confident of being able to add to his squad before the end of August.
"It is a difficult market," Pardew claimed. "Everyone is chasing people, but we want quality, and that is hard to find.
"I am hoping to sign one or two players before the window shuts."
The Fulham manager Chris Coleman said this week that he had told Malbranque, 26, that he will not play for the club again after refusing to sign a new contract. The Frenchman has turned down a £4m move to Middlesbrough. Newcastle United and Aston Villa have also shown interest.
"I've told Steed he won't play for Fulham even if he's fit," Coleman said. "I've been told we can't buy but I've been looking at it since last season. Selling Steed would release cash, maybe enough for two players."Reuse content