Every manager hired and fired by Watford owner Gino Pozzo

03 October 2021 03:15

The weirdest job in football management - if you're based in England - is undoubtedly at Watford.

Famed for being owned by Elton John and guided into the UEFA Cup by Graham Taylor in the 1980s, the Hornets were a family club who once offered hope to those looking to disrupt the footballing elite that anything is possible with a bit of hard graft, perseverance and continuity.

Decline did follow, yes, but fleeting visits into the top flight meant Watford were never really out of the mainstream limelight by the time Gino Pozzo assumed control of the club in 2012.

That's where things have got a little weird.

Managers now come and go more often than you put the washing on, and the job of Watford manager permanently comes with the security status of 'precarious' - no matter how successful you may turn out to be.

Many have taken the challenge on in the decade that has followed, but there's yet to be a manager who has lasted longer than 594 days - the equivalent of just 20 months.


1. Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola was the first hire made | Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Tenure: July 2012 - December 2013 (526 days)
Games in charge: 75
PPG: 1.52
Achievements: Championship play-off finalist

Gianfranco Zola's time in charge is best remembered for that Championship play-off semi-final moment against Leicester in May 2013.

But the scenes of delirium at Vicarage Road evaporated pretty quickly after Watford lost in the final, and Zola was out of a job by Christmas of that year.


2. Giuseppe Sannino

Sannino was given eight months | Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Tenure: December 2013 - August 2014 (256 days)
Games in charge: 36
PPG: 1.50
Achievements: N/A

The Pozzo family also have a controlling stake in Udinese, so the appointment of Beppe Sannino was perhaps not a surprise to anybody who knew of those links

Watford's supporters, on the other hand, weren't so familiar, but they didn't get too long to get to know him. Still, eight months in charge wasn't bad going considering what followed.


3. Oscar Garcia

Garcia's tenure was unexpectedly cut short | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Tenure: September 2014 - September 2014 (27 days)
Games in charge: 4
PPG: 1.25
Achievements: N/A

Oscar Garcia's time at Watford was exceptionally brief, though his departure had nothing to do with matters on the field.

Unfortunately, the Spaniard was hospitalised with chest pains not long after his appointment, and he was forced to relinquish his position so he could prioritise his recovery.


4. Billy McKinlay

Billy McKinlay lasted just eight days | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Tenure: September 2014 - October 2014 (8 days)
Games in charge: 2
PPG: 2.00
Achievements: N/A

Billy McKinlay succeeded Garcia as head coach, marking his first role as the main man in the dugout.

Eight days, a win and a draw later, and it was already over - kicked to the kerb in favour of Slavisa Jokanovic. You'd say it was mental but.


5. Slavisa Jokanovic

Jokanovic was axed despite winning promotion | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Tenure: October 2014 - June 2015 (266 days)
Games in charge: 36
PPG: 1.89
Achievements: Championship runner-up (promoted to the Premier League)

.it actually worked for Watford.

Jokanovic took control, changed things around in terms of playing style and promotion was secured to the Premier League. Surely everything was happy days?

Turned out, no. Joka was sacked and didn't get to lead the club into the top flight.


6. Quique Sanchez Flores

Quique Sanchez Flores earned plaudits for his work at Watford | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Tenure: July 2015 - July 2016 (365 days)
Games in charge: 44
PPG: 1.30
Achievements: FA Cup semi-finalist

Next in the firing line was Quique Sanchez Flores, who perhaps knew what might be coming after he signed only a one-year contract.

His season in charge was steady rather than spectacular, keeping Watford in the top flight as well as reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup. He didn't stay, naturally.


7. Walter Mazzarri

Walter Mazzarri had one year appointment written all over him | Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Tenure: July 2016 - May 2017 (325 days)
Games in charge: 41
PPG: 1.05
Achievements: N/A

Not able to speak English? No problem!

That was the message sent out when Watford then hired Walter Mazzarri, even though his grasp of the language was clearly a solid 1/10.

He fudged his way through the year, but the Hornets didn't really do an awful lot. Was he surprised to leave? Doubtful.


8. Marco Silva

Marco Silva was courted by Everton | Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Tenure: May 2017 - January 2018 (239 days)
Games in charge: 26
PPG: 1.12
Achievements: N/A

Back when Marco Silva was regarded as the best thing since sliced bread, Watford fans thought they were onto something special when the Portuguese was appointed and he got off to a good start.

But that bubble soon burst when Everton, fresh off dismissing Ronald Koeman, started sniffing around in the club's laundry room. Things deteriorated sharpish and Silva was sacked - with Pozzo concerned that his head had been turned.

Silva ended up at Everton but that went wrong too.


9. Javi Gracia

Gracia was bewilderingly dismissed months after reaching the FA Cup final | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Tenure: January 2018 - September 2019 (594 days)
Games in charge: 66
PPG: 1.32
Achievements: FA Cup finalist

What do you get when you lead Watford into the FA Cup final and come 11th in the Premier League - the club's highest league finish for 33 years?

You get canned months later after losing a couple of games.

Yep, poor old Javi Gracia did a pretty good job, and although results from the start of the year indicated things were going south, he really didn't deserve the boot. Or did he?


10. Quique Sanchez Flores (again)

Things didn't go so well second time around for Sanchez Flores | Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Tenure: September 2019 - December 2019 (85 days)
Games in charge: 12
PPG: 0.83
Achievements: N/A

Why on earth Quique Sanchez Flores turned up at Vicarage Road is beyond anybody.

He survived just 85 days second time around, winning just two of his 12 games. Still, a nice little payoff never did anyone any harm.


11. Nigel Pearson

Nigel Pearson couldn't save Watford from relegation | Pool/Getty Images

Tenure: December 2019 - July 2020 (85 days)
Games in charge: 22
PPG: 1.18
Achievements: N/A

Sam Allardyce was half expected to turn up next, but instead Watford dove into the sand and extracted Nigel Pearson from his Premier League sabbatical.

But any momentum Pearson had generated was interrupted when the world of football was put on hold because of coronavirus, and things didn't go well when the Premier League's return was crammed into a mad few weeks.

Games were lost, heads were back in the sand and Pearson didn't last the season, with the club relegated under the caretaker charge of Hayden Mullins.


12. Vladimir Ivic

Vladimir Ivic's brand of football was labelled negative | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Tenure: August 2020 - December 2020 (126 days)
Games in charge: 22
PPG: 1.68
Achievements: N/A

After Mullins' ill-fated spell ended, Vladimir Ivic (who?) rocked up tasked with taking Watford back up.

What he brought to the table was pretty negative football which bored you into submission. It worked to begin with, but once a couple of games were lost, it was quickly apparent that he wasn't the kind of manager for Pozzo.

Binned after four months, despite Watford still being in with a chance of promotion.


13. Xisco Munoz

Xisco was a surprise appointment - but was very harshly dismissed | David Rogers/Getty Images

Tenure: December 2020 - September 2021 (287 days)
Games in charge: 36
PPG: 1.86
Achievements: Championship runner-up (promoted to the Premier League)

Ivic's successor was the barely known Xisco Munoz, who only had a four-month spell in charge of Dinamo Tbilisi on his managerial résumé prior to arriving.

But the Spaniard proved his doubters wrong, led Watford back to the promised land of the Premier League, and was then backed pretty substantially in the transfer market.

Surprised he was then booted out seven games into the season? No, we're not either.

Source: 90min