With the club stuck in a poor run of form of late, and with key fixtures against the Magpies, Burnley and Norwich all to come consecutively, it may be time to try something new.
Since coming in, the Italian has set his Watford team up with a back four in all but one of his games – which was his first match in charge, a 5-0 loss against Liverpool.
However, with the January transfer market now open, the club have gone out and signed three new players which could afford Ranieri the flexibility to alter his team a little bit.
Hassane Kamara, Edo Kayembe and Samir are all now at the club and in contention to make their debuts against Newcastle, with Ranieri saying ahead of the match: “Of course, not everybody is 100 per cent, but I can choose between them.”
Most notably, centre-back Samir and left-back Kamara could provide extra defensive cover in an area of the pitch in which Watford have been found wanting all season long.
Speaking in his pre-game press conference, Ranieri hinted at a tactical change, saying: “Wait [until] Saturday and you will see. I don’t tell you, I want to change the approach.”
When asked if Samir could perhaps be used as one of the central defenders in a back three, the 70-year-old said: “Last season with Udinese, and also this season at the beginning they changed, went four [at the back], went three. and Samir is intelligent he could play four or three.”
He then added perhaps knowingly: “And also Watford could play three at the back.”
Adam Masina of Watford sprays champagne at the final whistle as their side are promoted to the Premier League
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In the league this season, the Hornets have yet to keep a clean sheet and so an extra man in the middle of defence could be a way forward.
With William Troost-Ekong at the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, and Nicolas Nkoulou out injured for the long term, Craig Cathcart and Francisco Seirrelta are currently the first-choice pairing in Hertfordshire.
Though Christian Kabasele has returned to training this week. This essentially means, along with Samir, Ranieri has two new options to try at the back, which he may feel offers him the flexibility to go to a three.
If this tactical switch was made, it would of course also require wing-backs to come in. At his former side OGC Nice, Kamara played at left-back and left-midfield so playing as a hybrid of the two positions could suit him, allowing him to show his defensive and offensive qualities.
On the other flank, Jeremy Ngakia could be used, or else Kiko Femenia is set to return from a hamstring injury and would also provide a possible option.
Whatever he decides, Ranieri seems happy with the signings Watford have made so far this month, and has been talking up their experience, quality and personality.
He also asserted that they will ‘help’ the club as they aim to avoid relegation at the end of the season. Perhaps one way they will do that is by allowing the Italian to try a new formation in the coming weeks.