Where did it go wrong for Marco Silva at Watford?
Surprise, surprise. Watford and the Pozzo family who owns the club, have changed their Manager (or Head Coach as they like to call it) less than a year into employment. The tactic of switching up their coaching staff has resulted in their Premier League survival over the last few seasons, but Silva's departure is unique in the sense that Watford, who even though started the league in strong fashion, could ultimately be flung into the mix of a relegation fight. We look at where it went wrong for Marco Silva and Watford. All aboard.
Watford in the Premier League
Watford were promoted from the Championship in the 2014/15 season, which means that the 2017/18 season is their 3rd consecutive season in the Premier League. Let's start by looking at their two previous league campaigns.
Manager: Quique Flores
Goal Difference: 40F, 50A = -10 difference
Manager: Walter Mazzarri
Goal Difference: 40F, 68A = -28 difference
Comparison between Flores and Mazzarri, and to a large extent with Silva, strike similar chords. Watford have a tendency to start a Premier League season strongly before packing their bags for a summer holiday earlier than the board would like.
Flores was heavily aided by Odion Ighalo's form in the first half of the 20115/16 season, and largely brought a solidity to their Premier League return.
Similarly, Walter Mazzarri was less-adorned at the club and started strong only to lose the dressing room shortly after the Xmas fixture list, with the Hornets playing squad and fans losing confidence on a weekly basis.
Capoue, Deeney, and Holebas, were highlights in a season that nearly resulted in relegation, with Mazzarri's side slipping to 17th place on the final day of the season.
You could argue that change has been necessary at the club to maintain its standard in the Premier League, and Marco Silva's appointment was set to take the club to that level.
Highly sought after in the summer, Watford's revolving recruitment door appeared to be the best place to cement a form of familiarity with the managerial coaching staff, but that was never going to be the case once Everton showed an interest in the club.
Marco Silva and The Everton Effect
With Marco Silva's arrival, and subsequent departure on Sunday 21st January 2018, here's what Watford stated on their website
"This has been a difficult decision and one not taken lightly. The Club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership. The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the Board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised. For the security and success of the football club, the Board believes it has to make a change."
2017/18 (After Gameweek 24):
Manager: Marco Silva
Goal Difference: 33F, 44A = -11 difference
Marco Silva was on track to score more goals for Watford than the 40 league goals managed by Flores or Mazzarri, but questions have once again been raised over the defence, and with Watford this conversation is usually had at the end of the season, not in the middle of January with the club hovering just 4 points above the drop zone.
On form over the last 11 games Watford have picked up just 5 points, and are bottom of the form table if you take those selective games into consideration.
Everton made an approach for Silva, and were willing to pay millions in compensation, after a Gameweek 11 encounter at Goodison Park, which saw Everton trump Watford 3-2, with the Toffees coming back from 2-0 down.
Marco Silva: Before Everton Links
GW1: Watford 3-3 Liverpool
GW2: Bournemouth 0-2 Watford
GW3: Watford 0-0 Brighton
GW4: Southampton 0-2 Watford
GW5: Watford 0-6 Man City
GW6: Swansea 1-2 Watford
GW7: West Brom 2-2 Watford
GW8: Watford 2-1 Arsenal
GW9: Chelsea 4-2 Watford
GW10: Watford 0-1 Stoke
GW11: Everton 3-2 Watford
Goal difference: 17F, 21A
Marco Silva: After Everton Links
GW12: Watford 2-0 West Ham
GW13: Newcastle 0-3 Watford
GW14: Watford 2-4 Man United
GW15: Watford 1-1 Spurs
GW16: Burnley 1-0 Watford
GW17: Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford
GW18: Watford 1-4 Huddersfield
GW19: Brighton 1-0 Watford
GW20: Watford 2-1 Leicester
GW21: Watford 1-2 Swansea
GW22: Man City 3-1 Watford
GW23: Watford 2-2 Southampton
GW24: Leicester 2-0 Watford
Goal difference: 16F, 23A
Somehow, Watford managed to pick up more points in the first 11 games of the season having played 4 of the 'Top 6' Premier League sides in the opening 9 matches.
The Hornets also conceded 6 of their 21 in a single game against Man City, which means they conceded 15 goals from 10 games if City are excluded.
Watford's concerns with Silva are obvious based off their last 13 matches, having lost to a host of clubs that are in and and around the mix for relegation - Crystal Palace, Huddersfield, and Brighton all in consecutive matches, as well as a sobering defeat at home to Swansea during Gameweek 21 shortly after.
A sole victory against Leicester during Gameweek 20 ultimately proved costly to a Manager, who no doubt will quickly find a new club to call home.
Another problem has been a vocal point in attack. Despite bringing Andre Gray to the club, and having Troy Deeney at his disposal, Silva couldn't make either forward tick, with Abdoulaye Doucoure positioned as Watford's top goal scorer... And it was Doucoure who scored Silva's last winning goal in the victory against Leicester.
The Arrival of Javi Gracia
One the same day which saw Marco Silva leave the club, Watford announced that Javi Gracia will be brought into the club on an 18 month contract as Head Coach.
If you're unfamiliar with Gracia, the best comparison that comes to mind is Mauricio Pellegrino of Southampton, though given the rate of Manager's leaving their clubs it looks highly likely that Pellegrino will be next on the managerial chopping block.
Pellegrino came to England's top flight promising defensive organisation and a team that will be hard to break down. Even though Pellegrino has struggled to achieve his vision as Southampton so far, these are the principles that saw Gracia have a decent spell whilst in charge of Malaga.
In the 2014/15 season, Gracia pulled off a brilliant 1-0 win at Barcelona's Nou Camp with a highly organised Malaga side, with Juanmi scoring in the 7th minute. If you cast your memories back far enough, the post-match analysis focusing heavily on Malaga's defensive organisation, and how a utility midfielder would drop into defence to support a back six.
On the whole Gracia likes to play with a 4-4-2 formation and likes to have a hard-working midfield creat a compact eleven. Burnley or Brighton much? This should give FPL players some indications on player favouritism. Deeney and Gray could have an extended spell up top together if the 4-4-2 is adopted.
Gracia's arrival in England might be completed out of the blue, with the coach unknown to most, but in Spain it was deemed inevitable that Gracia would be returning to management sooner rather than later.
Former Watford boss Quique Flores, who was linked with the Stoke job before Paul Lambert's arrival would have had an impact on Gracia, with the former Ruben Kazan coach tipped for the Espanyol job should Flores have opted for Stoke.
The main obstacles for Gracia will be motivating a squad, and players such as Richarlison, who appear to be visibly upset at Marco Silva's departure.
Gracia's first match is a trip to Stoke for Gameweek 25, and with Watford already losing to the Potters this season, this encounter couldn't be set up sweeter.
You can read more of our latest news from in the FPL, Premier League, and around the footballing world on our Football page by clicking here, or by clicking the image below.
Want to know more about The Hype Train?
The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
As well as providing FPL articles on our website, we are a founding Contributor to the new Fantasy Football Hub, where you can find more unique articles, including weekly Power Rankings, from The Hype Team. You can support us and read exclusive members only content for just £2 per-month by clicking here.
The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.