When one looks at Watford this season you only have to look at how Leeds United imploded in the early 2000s and stayed in the Championship for over a decade before being promoted to the Premier League for next season. More recently it was Blackburn Rovers, a team who are now plying their trade in the Championship. A takeover also a decade ago saw the club make ridiculous discussions and you could almost see what was going to happen to them, they had relegation written all over the club and they haven’t been back to the top tier since.
Now we have Watford, a proud club, with a history. Up until a few weeks ago it even seemed like they would just escape relegation, but the Hornets were all buzzed out and imploded in the final furlong.
The damning fact for the club is not that they finished with 34 points in the league or lost lost 20 of their 38 games or conceded 64 goals. It is, and you may have to be sitting to hear this, that they went through 4 managerial changes. This is what unhinged the club, the mess from the board was carried over to the pitch, where the players simply did not know if they were coming or going.
First it was Javi Gracia, he lasted 66 games which is a lot for a Watford manager it seems. But he was sacked as early as the beginning of September with the league barely under way. In stepped Quique Sanchez Flores making a return to the club after being sacked in 2016 when he actually had a decent campaign with the club. In he returned and 2 months later out he went and yet he had only lost 50% of the 12 games he had been in charge of. One of those did include losing 8-0 to Manchester City, but even so, have the owners not heard of time and patience?
In December the owners went for some grit and experience and in came Nigel Pearson. And finally it looked like the right decision as Watford vastly improved and left the bottom three. Watford went on to inflict an incredible 3-0 defeat of Liverpool which was the Reds first defeat of the season and first in 44 games. When Pearson joined Watford the club were 7 points adrift at the bottom of the league and yet when he was sacked they were 3 points from the relegation zone.
His sacking was odd given that it happened when Watford still had 2 games left to play. Albeit they were against Manchester City and Arsenal, but still they had a fighting chance to stay up. Pearson was sacked, the players immediately said confidence was low and they lost their 2 remaining games, conceding a further 7 goals and were relegated.
So who is in the dug out now? One Hayden Mullins, he’s played the part of interim manager on another occasion where he lasted 2 games, and 2 games for this season now it is over looks like all he will get again. Watford will surely recruit a new manager for next season as they start life in the Championship once again.
The club have had 14 different managers over the past decade which speaks volumes about how unstable the team is. History has not taught them how to act, with the first rule being obvious, do not use 4 different managers during one campaign.
One suspects the road will be long for the Hornets to get back into the Premier League.
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