Watford sacked Vladimir Ivic because his style of football was too dreary, and that they want a younger more dynamic coach. Will this latest sacking work…?
Watford are at it again.
At the weekend the Hornets dismissed Vladimir Ivic and appointed Xisco Munoz, making that their ninth change of manager since they were last in the Championship in 2015.
So, while Watford don’t necessarily need any reason to change managers, what happened this time? The Athletic’s Watford correspondent Adam Leventhal joined The Totally Football League Show this week to explain the thinking behind binning Ivic.
“The football wasn’t the best, and maybe he was overcomplicating things. Playing a possession-based game in the Championship is maybe just a bit unnecessary, especially when you’ve got a decent group of players like Ken Sema, Ismaila Sarr, and on the whole the attacking prowess of the team has been pulled back.
“The hierarchy were thinking that “we need to take the handbrake off here”, and show what this side can do on a level below the Premier League. They should be taking the game to the opposition a bit more, that was the overriding thing.
“In the climate we’re in, just having a bit more fun and bringing a bit more joy into the game, is what they were thinking.”
So what about the new man? Munoz’s previous managerial experience came at Dinamo Tiblisi, but other than that, we know little. Luckily, Adam has been asking around:
“I’ve been speaking to various people that know him very well. He shares an agent with Javi Gracia, which is one of the links, Gino Pozzo keeps tabs on a load of coaches that are having success all around the world.
“The main thing they wanted was a young coach who could motivate the team. He’s 40-years-old, and from everyone I’ve spoken to, from the captain at Dinamo Tiblisi to Rafa Benitez, who he played under at Valencia, is that he’s a good guy, he’s a player’s manager, on their level rather than being in a me/us situation, which seemed to manifest itself with Vladimir Ivic. He’s positive…we’ll only find out when we see his team flow.
“If he can come in, be less of a fun sponge and more of a motivator – maybe that’s what the players need. But we have been in this situation before: they’ve made brutal changes, sometimes it’s worked, but more often than not in recent history, it hasn’t had the desired effect.”
One thing Munoz will have to do is get Troy Deeney, the great survivor of Watford and club captain, onside. Deeney’s been fond of talking recently, on TalkSport and in his column for The Sun, but there’s a sense that he could do with talking a little less.
“He’s got quite a loud voice. He’s got a platform, which is a challenging subplot to the season, but it shouldn’t be a destructive element.
“Some of the things he’s said like “I wouldn’t want to be a Watford manager because I know I’d get sacked”, he shouldn’t have said, especially when the club have backed him to the hilt.
“But basically what he needs to concentrate on is doing it on the pitch. It can be a good thing to have a captain who have the players’ backs. He wants the best for the club and wants to get back into the Premier League, because it will be good for the club, but also for his ego.
“If he can play as good a game as he’s talking off the field, then everyone will be happy.”
You can listen to The Totally Football League Show ad-free on The Athletic – subscribe here.
Did you know The Totally Football League Show is now TWICE a week? You can listen to the latest edition here, or even better subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.