Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Watford are facing problems of their own making

Following the 2-1 loss to Southampton yesterday, Watford announced at lunchtime that they were parting ways with manager Quique Sanchez Flores for a second time, however his second spell lasted for only 85 days, after winning just one of his 10 games in charge of the struggling side. Watford now begin the search for their third manager of the season, yes their third manager of the season and we’re one day into December. You can read more about who might be replacing the Spaniard here.

The fact that Watford will be moving onto their third manager of the season before we even reach the end of the calendar year shouldn’t even come as a surprise at this point. The Hornets have become notorious for managerial casualties, even more so than Roman Abaramovich’s Chelsea.

The appointment of a new manager will be the 11th time the Pozzo family have replaced their coach since they took control of the club in 2012. The most frightening part being that the 85 day spell of Sanchez Flores not even being the shortest that the owners have seen during their time in charge – that belongs to Billy McKinlay… who was replaced after getting 4 points from a possible six in his two games at the helm…

In Sanchez Flores’ first spell in charge of the club, newly promoted Watford finished in 13th place and made it to the semi-final of the FA cup, before Flores would leave the club citing differences with management, and their views on whether or not the season had been a success. This came one year after Slavisa Jokanovic was unable to agree terms with the club following their promotion campaign from the Championship.

Following the impressive debut campaign, Flores was replaced by Walter Mazzarri, and surprisingly the Italian managed to retain his job for a full season despite the poor results he was producing. Once again it was announced that he would be parting ways with the club at the end of his first season in charge, despite signing a three year contract. Watford would finish their second season back in the Premier League in 17th place, with a 6 point gap to the final relegation spot.

That season should have served as something of a warning shot for the club, that consistent managerial turnover does not lead to good long term results, look at Sunderland for an example. Firing and hiring a new manager every season to stave off relegation may work in the short term, however it is simply delaying the inevitable, by the time the club does sink down to a lower division it is in a much worse state than it would have been originally. This is exactly the position that Watford begin to find themselves in.

Watford are making odd decisions

2017/18 proved to be another tumultuous year for the club, though this time it was a little less of their own doing. Following the departure of Mazzarri, Watford appointed up and comer Marco Silva, who would start his tenure in an incredible fashion, looking to have been a fantastic appointment… until Everton came snooping.

Following interest from The Toffees, and Watford rejecting the approach for their manager, Silva’s unrest became evident and results began to drop off dramatically, which ultimately led to his sacking before the end of the season. The appointment of Javi Gracia would mark Watford’s fourth manager in the space of three seasons, though he would bring good results and short term stability.

Finishing the 2017/18 season in 14th place marked a significant improvement in position, though not a huge improvement in total points, but Gracia had impressed during his time in charge and was actually allowed to begin a second season in charge of the club, which is something hitherto unheard of.

That second season was yet another success, with Watford finishing in 11th position and racking up their highest ever points tally in the top flight of English football, making it to the FA Cup final for just the second time in the club’s history. The future was bright, it seemed, in the hands of Javi Gracia.

Just kidding. Gracia was sacked FOUR GAMES into the 2019/20 season. After leading Watford to their best finish in club history and the FA Cup final. Four games.

The side were bottom of the table with just one point to their name after those four games, which isn’t a good look nor a good position to be in, however one would think that after the results he had produced in the previous season and a half that Gracia would have been given a little more time to turn things around. Unfortunately, as has become custom at Watford, Gracia was disposed of by the Pozzo family as soon as they became unhappy with the results he was producing and the same is now said of Sanchez Flores.

Watford are bottom of the table, granted, however they are only six points from safety and as mentioned in an earlier article, most likely wouldn’t have lost to Southampton yesterday if not for an egregious VAR decision. Who knows what would have happened if that call didn’t go against them, being 1-0 up at the time, they could have left that game victorious and in 18th place.

It seems as though this revolving door will continue to spin as long as the Pozzo family are in control of the club, but I can only hope that it spins down into the Championship. Apologies to any Watford fans reading this article, but in no scenario should sacking manager after manager ever reward a club with any kind of success and that is the situation that Watford are now in, as they hunt for their third manager of the season.

The club really isn’t too far away from safety, barring Everton and Aston Villa both winning their game in hand, however it will likely be incredibly difficult for a manager to come in and turn their fortunes around this season. Watching two managers walk out of the door in the first 14 games of the season will not only be incredibly demoralising, but also damaging to their preparations for the remainder of the season, as they’re likely going to need to learn an entirely new system and style of playing.

It’s time for Watford to go down, rebuild and come back in a couple of years. Hopefully with new ownership while they’re at it.

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