On this day in 2008: Watford part company with manager Aidy Boothroyd

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Aidy Boothroyd left his post as Watford manager on this day in 2008.

Boothroyd had taken over at Vicarage Road at the age of just 34 as the Hornets put their faith in one of English management’s rising stars.

He departed more than three and a half years later, having guided the club into the Premier League but then struggling to repeat the feat after an immediate return to the second tier.

Boothroyd became the youngest manager in the Football League when Watford, looking to replace the sacked Ray Lewington, secured his release from his role as first-team coach at Leeds in March 2005.

Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd tries to urge on his team
Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd tries to urge on his team (PA)

Lewington had lost his job barely three months after taking the Hornets to a Carling Cup semi-final against Liverpool, but having won just four of his last 24 Championship games.

His successor arrived citing Winston Churchill as an inspiration.

Boothroyd said at the time: “Winston Churchill was appointed as a cabinet minister at a very young age: in life you can always follow successful people.

“There are certain common denominators that you can use from their experiences, take what they learned over decades and put it into practice in everyday life.”

Watford sat just four points clear of the Championship’s relegation zone with seven games to play the day the new manager took over the reins and although they lost their first three fixtures under his charge, they collected seven of the final 12 points available to stay up by two.

Watford's players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Leeds in the Championship play-off final at the Millennium Stadium
Watford’s players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Leeds in the Championship play-off final at the Millennium Stadium (Mike Egerton/POOL/PA)

Twelve months later, they were promoted to the top flight following a 3-0 play-off final victory over Leeds at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, although their stay was to prove fleeting.

An abrasive and direct style of play failed to pay dividends among the big boys and they were relegated with three games still to play after a 1-1 home draw with Manchester City on April 21, 2007.

The following season, having opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the table as they attempted to bounce straight back, the Hornets suffered an alarming slump which coincided with striker Marlon King’s departure to Wigan. And although they eventually made it into the play-offs, they were soundly beaten by Hull in the semi-finals.

As financial problems bit hard, Boothroyd’s squad was dismantled and the club sat in 21st place in the table when a 4-3 home defeat by Blackpool prompted his departure, handing Brendan Rodgers the chance to guide them to safety and launch his own rise to prominence.

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