17 bosses in under 11 years: The club where management has a sting in the tail

Slaven Bilic’s sacking after less than six months in charge of Watford is the latest in a long line of changes under the ownership of Gino Pozzo and his family.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the club’s turbulent managerial history since they entered the boardroom.

Bilic’s record

Slaven Bilic
Slaven Bilic was unable to break the cycle at Watford (Simon Galloway/PA)

Twenty-six games is actually one of the longer reigns in recent Hornets history, with Bilic outlasting each of the previous three managers despite lasting only from September to March.

His immediate predecessor Rob Edwards was sacked after 11 games and Claudio Ranieri 14, with Roy Hodgson succeeding the Italian to see out the last 18 games of last season on a short-term contract.

Bilic won 10 Championship games, with seven draws and eight losses meaning a record of 37 points from a possible 75.

They scored 30 goals, conceding 27 in the league and another two in an FA Cup first-round exit to Reading, and have won only one of their last eight games.

Constant change

SOCCER Watford
SOCCER Watford

Starting with Gianfranco Zola shortly after their July 2012 takeover, Pozzo and family – along with chairman Scott Duxbury – have made 17 permanent managerial appointments in less than 11 years.

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

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

Gino Pozzo, centre, and Scott Duxbury, left
Gino Pozzo, centre, and chairman Scott Duxbury, left, have never hesitated to pull the trigger (Mike Egerton/PA)

No manager in their time in charge has matched Zola’s 75 games, with Javi Gracia the only other man to break through the half-century mark in a single spell – Quique Sanchez Flores was appointed twice, serving first for 44 games and then 12.

McKinlay aside, only Slavisa Jokanovic and Xisco Munoz cracked a 50 per cent win rate, with Gracia’s 37.9 per cent the best record for a reign spent wholly in the Premier League. Bilic managed only 38.5 per cent in the second tier.

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.

Wild card

Chris Wilder
Chris Wilder has 11 games plus the play-offs to earn promotion for Watford and a longer contract for himself (Barrington Coombs/PA)

With Watford ninth and just four points outside the top six, technical director Ben Manga told the club’s website: “With the January transfer window over, to change coach is the only option available to re-energise for the final games ahead.”

Former Sheffield United and Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder is the man entrusted with that task, on a realistic-looking Watford contract covering only the remainder of the season – 11 games plus the possibility of a play-off run.

After earlier success in the lower leagues with Halifax, Oxford and Northampton, Blades fan Wilder led his boyhood club to the Premier League and a season of over-achievement ending in a ninth-placed finish, before being sacked in 2021 as they headed for relegation.

He won more than 48 per cent of his games with the club, 106 out of 227, and then 18 of 45 in a less impressive spell with Middlesbrough where he was sacked in October after nearly a year in charge. Successor Michael Carrick has lifted Boro from the relegation zone to third in the table.