Claudio Ranieri, Watford managers
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Watford managers: Ranieri joins long queue shown door by Hornets

| 25.01.2022

Short shelf life for Watford managers

Claudio Ranieri joined Watford’s long list of managerial sackings following a dispiriting 3-0 defeat by relegation rivals Norwich on Friday night – and he has already been replaced by former England coach Roy Hodgson. 

The club’s Italian owners, Gino Pozzo and his family, have gained a reputation for hiring and firing managers at will, and the loss at Vicarage Road saw Ranieri become the latest victim and the Hornets cut to 2/7 in the Premier League relegation odds.

We’re taking a look at the club’s turbulent history involving Watford managers under their current ownership.

Ranieri’s reign

Ranieri is best remembered for leading Leicester to a shock Premier League title in 2016, just a season after they had survived a fraught relegation battle – but Fulham and now Watford have unsuccessfully chased the same magic since.

His time in charge of the Hornets brought just two wins – both memorable, with Everton dispatched 5-2 before a 4-1 victory over Manchester United ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford reign.

Apart from those games, there was only one other in which Ranieri’s Watford scored more than once – a 4-2 defeat to his former club Leicester.

They scored 17 and conceded 34 goals under his guidance and lost 11 of his 14 games, with their seventh and final point coming courtesy of a late equaliser against Newcastle. Ranieri, meanwhile, has won 10 and lost 34 of 53 Premier League games since Leicester’s title win.

Constant change

Starting with Gianfranco Zola shortly after their takeover, Pozzo and family – along with chairman Scott Duxbury – have made 14 permanent managerial appointments in less than 10 years.

That included three in 37 days in one madcap spell shortly after Pozzo took sole charge in 2014.

That was admittedly influenced by Oscar Garcia standing down due to ill health after just four games in charge, though the decision to appoint Billy McKinlay on a permanent basis and sack him two games – and four points – later was Pozzo’s alone.

Billy McKinlay

No Watford managers in their time in charge have matched Zola’s 75 games, with only he and Javi Gracia breaking through the half-century mark in a single spell – Quique Sanchez Flores was appointed twice, serving first for 44 games and then 12.

Win percentages are an imperfect measure of success in that time due to the difference between Premier League and Championship football. Slavisa Jokanovic and Xisco Munoz, as well as McKinlay, cracked 50 per cent but Gracia’s 37.9 per cent is the best record for a reign spent wholly in the top flight.

Beppe Sannino, Walter Mazzarri, Marco Silva, Nigel Pearson and Vladimir Ivic are the other managers to work under Pozzo, as well as two-time caretaker Hayden Mullins.

Sliding doors

One of the Pozzo family’s first acts after taking charge was to sack Sean Dyche in July 2012 in favour of Zola.

While they have cycled through managers at a dramatic rate since then, Dyche was appointed by Burnley less than four months later and remains in his post.

Sean Dyche, Burnley, Burnley v Brentford betting tips

He has twice taken the Clarets up to the Premier League, in his second and fourth seasons in charge with a relegation in between, and has established them in the top flight until this season’s fight against the drop. So highly regarded is he in Burnley that a pub in the town – The Royal Dyche – is named in his honour.

Dyche is the longest-serving current Premier League manager, while in the EFL only Harrogate’s Simon Weaver – who spent 11 seasons with them in non-league before 2020’s promotion – and Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth have been in post longer.

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Warren Barner