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Next Watford Manager Odds: Six summer replacements for Roy Hodgson

Diego Martinez (pictured) would be a real managerial coup for Watford
Diego Martinez (pictured) would be a real managerial coup for Watford

Watford’s decision to appoint Roy Hodgson certainly made a lot of sense at the time.

His vast managerial bank of experience, organisational skills, knowledge, and know-how was supposed to resurrect a sinking Hornets side out of the doldrums to the bright lights of Premier League survival.

Fast-forward a few months later and it’s a pretty fair assessment to say that Hodgson’s spell has been thoroughly underwhelming. And that’s putting it nicely.

It’s now only a matter of time until Watford’s fate is sealed down to the Championship. When confirmed, it will be the club’s second top-flight relegation in three seasons, and the first blot on Hodgson’s Premier League relegation-free CV.

Hodgson’s short-term contract expires at the end of the season, then the Pozzo family are fully expected to orchestrate a 16th managerial change since taking over 10 years ago. 

The owners have probably already drawn up a managerial shortlist, and while history shows that it can be an absolute lottery when it comes to predicting who they could appoint, TheSackRace has put forward six potential contenders for the imminent job opening at Vicarage Road…

VOTE HERE: Next Watford Manager Poll

The Championship Maestro: Daniel Farke

The next destination of Daniel Farke is sure to dominate many manager markets this summer.

As discussed in this piece on candidates for the Blackburn job, Farke’s record in the Championship is outrageously good. The German’s CV boasts two titles in the division, which were both 90+ point seasons, complete with a dazzling brand of football.

Unemployed after leaving Russian side Krasnodar, he’s currently one of the favourites to replace Tony Mowbray at Rovers, and is likely to attract interest from QPR, and others, while he’s entered the Hornets market at 25/1.

One concern is Farke’s ability to make the transition from Championship maestro to Premier League level, having failed to make an impact in the top-flight twice now. Yet, no one can doubt his second-tier credentials.

The Transformer: Diego Martinez

A favourite here at TheSackRace, this summer will mark a year since the impressive Diego Martinez surprisingly left Granada, where the 41-year-old performed minor miracles over the course of his three-year tenure: he won promotion to La Liga in his first season, finished 7th and reached the Copa del Rey semis in his second, then took them to a Europa League quarter-final final in his third.

Martinez, who has worked at Sevilla and managed Osasuna, will no doubt be targeting a top-flight return somewhere in Europe; he’s previously spoken of his love for England and has been linked with Watford in the past. Admittedly an appointment is a long shot, reflected in his 33/1 price, but if the Hornets project excites the Spaniard then an appointment would be a real coup for the club.

Neil Critchley has stamped his mark on Blackpool
Neil Critchley has stamped his mark on Blackpool

The Young British Boss: Neil Critchley

How about a change of tack? 

Experienced English managers such as Hodgson and Nigel Pearson have come and gone. The Claudio Ranieri experiment failed, while it was a rookie European in Xisco Munoz who won promotion to the Premier League last time out.

So, could we now see Watford change their managerial approach once again, and opt for a young British coach?

If so, then Englishman Neil Critchley instantly springs to mind. The former Liverpool coach has impressed in his first senior job at Blackpool, whom he’s completely transformed. In his first full season he conjured up a promotion to the Championship, and now has side three points off a top-half finish with one game remaining.

Critchley has successfully implemented his own blueprint and methodology, his coaching prowess has improved players, and he’s energised the fanbase by creating a team they can be proud of. 

Whether he’d want to switch jobs is another matter. But he’s definitely one to keep an eye on this summer, given the amount of clubs that currently are  - and could soon be - looking for a change in manager.

The Young British Boss (2): John Eustace

Similarly to Critchley, 36-year-old Swansea boss Russell Martin (25/1) has also been touted as someone Watford could be interested in, Liam Manning (25/1) has deservedly attracted outsider attention at MK Dons, while former Watford captain and current QPR assistant John Eustace has been the big early mover in the next Watford manager market, which he now surprisingly leads.

With Mark Warburton set to leave at the end of the season, assistant Eustace has been hotly linked with the new opening at Loftus Road. However, the 42-year-old has now been propelled into the mix to take charge of former club Watford.

The Englishman, who played for the club between 2008 and 2013, managed ​​National League side Kidderminster Harriers - labelled the ‘Non-League Barcelona’ by an opposing manager due to their style of play - while he’s been in QPR’s coaching set-up since 2018, a role he juggles with his position as assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland.

An appointment at Watford - or QPR (4/1) - would be considered somewhat of a gamble considering he’s never managed outright in the top-four tiers of English football, yet it’s one that has gathered significant interest, particularly in the Hornets market.

The Progressive Coach: Gerhard Struber

Barnsley may have got their last two managerial appointments all wrong, but prior to that the Yorkshire club got their recruitment spot on with Daniel Stendel, Gerhard Struber, and Valerien Ismael.

Struber masterminded the Great Escape in keeping Barnsley in the Championship on the final day of the 2019/20 season. He’s since jetted over to the Big Apple where he’s head coach of MLS side New York Red Bulls, having previously coached at fellow-brand club Red Bull Salzburg.

Struber is a progressive coach who has previously caught the eye of Watford, and was linked with a move to Man Utd as part of Ralf Rangnick’s coaching team. The Austrian employs a high-tempo brand of football, develops young players, and after a relatively strong finish to his first full season in NYC he’s carried the momentum into the current campaign. 

A return to England is likely to happen at some point in the future, but for the time being the 33/1 shot does appear fully invested in his American adventure. Yet if Watford could potentially pique his interest, they could have an outside chance of luring him back over to these shores.

The Pozzo Link: Gabriele Cioffi

Gabriele Cioffi’s varied coaching journey has taken him from Italy, to Australia, and the UAE, while over in England he was Gianfranco Zola’s assistant at Birmingham and managed Crawley, who booted Premier League Norwich out of the League Cup during his tenure.

In 2020 he returned to Italy where he became assistant manager of Udinese, where he’s been acting as caretaker since Luca Gotti’s December exit. The 46-year-old has subsequently won plaudits for holding leaders AC Milan (twice) and Jose Mourinho’s Roma to draws, his side have scored 4+ goals on five different occasions, and can still finish in the top-half.

Cioffi has done his managerial reputation no harm at all, and you’d think he’s given himself every opportunity to land the permanent Udinese job - a club the Pozzo’s also own - yet should he be overlooked he could potentially become a contender for Watford; a job he’s priced at 25/1 for.

Scroll down for the full next Watford manager odds market...

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