They say there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. However, you could probably add Watford sacking managers to that list. The Premier League’s basement club have just fired their second coach of the season, with sacking season now in full swing.
It seems that all is not well at Vicarage Road and you can point to the tail end of last season as the genesis for the Hornets woes. They are troubles that were worsened by the mauling they were dealt in the FA Cup final.
To say Watford’s performance against Manchester City was abject would be kind to the players that took to the field that day. Even though they earned a trip to Wembley, it is one that the club would rather forget.
Unfortunately, it seems as though the FA Cup hangover has been an incredibly stubborn one. After four games of the current Premier League campaign Javi Gracia was given his marching orders and replaced by a somewhat familiar face.
Step forward Quique Sanchez Flores. A man who had steered Watford to an FA Cup semi-final during his first tenure. If the board were hoping for a new manager bounce from their returning hero, those hopes are unfulfilled.
Whether the decision to move Sanchez Flores on for a second time was the correct one, especially just ten league games into his stint, is a point that will be argued and counter-argued over the next few days.
Soon the Spaniard will be a mere footnote in the club’s history, viewed as nothing more than a managerial commodity. Especially if the next incumbent manages one of Premier League’s greatest ever escapes.
Whoever Watford’s third manager of the season proves to be, he will be wary of the length of service afforded to him. With five separate appointments since June 2015, they may not expect to be employed for all that long.
There is no doubting that Watford’s revolving door policy has worked since Slavisa Jokanovic earned promotion to the top-flight back in May 2015. That said, you may only consider it working if avoiding promotion is the sole criteria.
The Watford board have clearly been guilty of short-term planning. At looking directly in front of them to make sure they get over the line in that current campaign. From there, it has been a case of rinse, wash and repeat.
In doing so they have failed to plan for the future. Although their trips to the managerial well have been plentiful in the past, it seems this same well is now dry. With just a third of the season behind us, the club are staring relegation in the face.
The overriding question in all of this, is what do Watford stand for as a club? You look at their Premier League counterparts and have an idea of what they are about, of the identity that they have.
For Watford though, it’s almost as if they have no identity. They are reduced to a collection of international mercenaries who take to the field each week. A group that interchanges with every new managerial appointment.
This means that there is little in the way of cohesion within the squad. Because the turnover in personnel is so large, and with young talent repeatedly overlooked, no foundations are being laid for the years ahead.
Ultimately it comes down to the fact that no manager in the past five years has been in charge long enough to bed young talent in. It is this law of diminishing returns that has finally caught up with the club.
If they are one of the three teams to drop down to the Championship next season, the decision to build this footballing house on sand is one that will worsen. Only then might they turn a new, long term approach be implemented.
That’s because these same mercenaries will not fancy the war of attrition that is England’s second tier. You can be sure that a mass exodus will be on the cards, as the likes of Gerard Deloufeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure call time on their Watford careers.
Every managerial appointment made by any club is deemed as its most important. Although, with Watford the magnitude is of the decision is greater than most. Quite simply, if they get this one wrong it could set them back a number of years and that short term gain will turn to long term pain.