After suffering relegation from the Premier League last season, Watford’s owners have acted quickly as they seek to make an immediate return to the top tier of English football.
Watford have sacked manager Rob Edwards just 10 league games into his reign with the club sat outside the Championship play-off places.
Edwards had only taken over at Vicarage Road over the summer, replacing Roy Hodgson after the Hornets’ relegation from the Premier League. The club have also acted quickly to bring in a replacement, with Slaven Bilic confirmed as the new boss just minutes after the announcement of Edwards’ dismissal.
Watford have had a busy summer with plenty of ins and outs, but were able to hold onto key men Ismaila Sarr and Joao Pedro despite interest from the Premier League. That hasn’t been enough to save Edwards, though, with the manager told to pack his bags after just three league wins from 10 outings.
Bilic has been appointed in time for the Hornets’ next league game, against Stoke City after the international break, when a win could be enough to lift them back into the play-off spots. A statement from Watford confirmed the new manager’s coaching staff would be confirmed at a later date.
Edwards, who won 15 caps for Wales in his playing days, was appointed after leading Forest Green Rovers to promotion from League Two last season. However, after struggling for momentum in the league and suffering a dismal EFL Cup exit at home to MK Dons, he has been sent packing.
His final game in charge was a 2-2 draw at home to Sunderland, in which his team conceded a late equaliser from Jewison Bennette.”I thought for a 20-minute period in the second half we looked like a really good team, and the team I want to see,” Edwards said after the result. “That’s a team I know we can be, and we need to be that team for the full match.
“Watford FC has relieved Rob Edwards of his duties as Head Coach,” a club statement read. “The Board of Watford Football Club wishes to place on record its thanks to Rob for all of his work since his appointment and wish him and his assistant Richie Kyle – who will also leave the club – all the very best for their future careers in coaching and management.”
“As with all decisions taken by the Board, I believe this change to be in the best interests of the club,” owner Gino Pizzo added. “We felt Rob had enough time to show us the identity of his team, however performances haven’t reflected our hopes and ambitions. Now we must move forward, and, in Slaven Bilić, we have secured the services of an experienced coach who has recent experience of promotion to the Premier League.”
Bilic, a former Croatia national team manager, has spent time in England in charge of West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion. He has been out of work since leaving Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan in January.
The 54-year-old, who has also managed in Russia and Turkey, led West Ham to a seventh-place finish in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season. He also helped West Brom win promotion to the Premier League in 2020, but was sacked by the club early in the following season and his successor Sam Allardyce took them back down to the second tier.
Bilic will be the ninth different man to manage Watford since the start of 2018, and the club will hope a mid-season change can reap rewards, just as it did in the 2020-21 season. Back then, Vladimir Ivic began the campaign in the dugout before making way for Xisco Munoz, and the Spaniard took the Hornets up at the first time of asking.