Gianfranco Zola replaced Sean Dyche as Watford manager at the end of the 2011–12 season following Sean Dyche's dismissal. Following the successful takeover of Watford by the Pozzo family, Watford loaned a significant number of players on season-long deals from fellow Pozzo-owned clubs Udinese and Granada. The use of a large number of loan players drew criticism from both the media and fellow managers, taking a stance that using a large number of loan players from a few clubs should not be allowed. However, despite the number of loanees at the club, Watford maintained their traditional use of academy players; Watford used the second-most academy players after Middlesbrough, utilising eight different academy players throughout the season.
Watford will spend the early part of their pre-season in the village of Mals in Northern Italy, attending a pre-season training camp and playing friendly fixtures before playing more fixtures in the UK
At the end of the 2012–13 season, the club announced that seven players would be released at the end of their contracts, alongside Chris Iwelumo, who had already agreed to join Scunthorpe United. After being released by the club, Jack Bonham signed for Brentford, Stephen McGinn signed for Sheffield United and Mark Yeates signed for Bradford City.
^For players who came through the club's youth system the date used refers to when they signed a professional contract, unless they appeared in a first-team match-day squad prior to that, in which case that date is used.
^All players who have been signed to the club since the opening day of the 2013–14 season are listed