Watford: Another season, another new manager?
Watford’s managerial merry-go-round has provided short-term success, but how long before the wheels come off the tracks?
Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Sean Dyche? Gianfranco Zola? Walter Mazzarri? Marco Silva? Sorry, but in the best interests of the club, we’re letting you go.
Javi Gracia does not have time on his hands. He will need to start the season strongly, especially given a winnable first three fixtures. Since the Pozzo family took over Watford in June 2012, they have shaken the hands of a stunning nine different managers, probing the impression they demand instant success.
The question for Watford this season is, will it just be another season, with another managerial sacking?
The relativity of success
Soon this approach and lack of respect for the man in the dugout could prove to be the wrong one. Chelsea, too, terminate contracts on a regular basis, although they back their ruthlessness up, simply, with success.
Unfortunately, as much as they may idolise them, Watford are not Chelsea and the Pozzo family are not Roman Abramovich.
Success, though, is relative. For instance, Watford are on their fourth manager in three years in the Premier League, but they’ve stayed afloat. Is that, therefore, vindication of their policy?
Watford started their new season with a comfortable 2-0 triumph at home to Brighton, both goals coming from a rejuvenated Roberto Pereyra. Opening a new season under the beaming Hertfordshire sun with a clean sheet, three points and a smiling Spaniard at the helm, it satisfied the Watford faithful.
Great gifts to start the campaign, but is time the greatest gift of them all? Although it’s only been one game, this could be considered a basis for giving Gracia the chance to stamp his own style on this Watford side.
The gift of time
Does it all go back to the famous quote of good things coming to those who wait? Watford and their hierarchy may need to be patient with their managers and start providing them with a newfound sense of solidarity within the club.
Since earning promotion to the top flight in 2015, the Hornets have consistently flirted with relegation in patches over the past seasons.
They did, however, enjoy their best campaign under Quique Sanchez Flores in their return to the Premier League in 2015/16. The Spaniard took the club to the FA Cup semi-final, whilst recording a steady 13th place finish.
Things were looking promising for the following season, too. That was until negotiations between the board and Flores broke down, resulting in a dashing of supporters’ hopes.
Managers of different nationalities, calibres and philosophies have drank from the poisoned chalice at Vicarage Road since Flores in hope they can earn the board’s trust, but have been awarded very little time to do, such is the pressure of the top flight.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Could Gracia, therefore, break the hoodoo and become the first manager of the Pozzo reign to last beyond 17 months? It’s questionable at best.
This is because Gracia’s managerial history doesn’t read favourably. His failure to last beyond two seasons — coupled with the Pozzos’ penchant for trigger happiness — is ominous. Playing Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal in three of their four September fixtures, for example, could foreshadow Gracia’s sacking before Christmas.
Sacking managers so consistently rarely breeds success in the long-term. While it provides short-term gratification — namely the ‘new manager effect’ — the wheels tread a thin line between stability and coming off the track completely.
Such a precarious position, moreover, not only creates a void between the club and their fans, but it discourages managers with long-term aspirations from taking an interest in the job.
The Pozzos should take heed: Rome wasn‘t built in a day. Nor will Watford be.
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