Munoz Wins the Sack Race

Watford's Manager is the First Firing of 2021/22

Xisco Munoz has parted ways with Watford after only seven games of the season, the first managerial casualty of the 2021/22 Premier League.

Xisco Munoz
Xisco Munoz

Sitting 14th out of 20 after two wins, a draw and four defeats, Watford is not quite mired in a relegation battle, but the Hornets have been serial sackers for a while. The Pozzo family who run the Hertfordshire club have overseen a dozen managers at Vicarage Road since 2012.

The firing comes on the back of a dismal display at Elland Road, where Leeds beat them 1-0. The board's official announcement spoke of "a negative trend at a time when team cohesion should be visibly improving."

That is more than the usual platitudes a club spouts when sacking their manager but it still seems a little harsh when there are six clubs below Watford in the table and Munoz won them automatic promotion to the Premier League after taking over mid-season in the last campaign.

"It concluded in a way I neither expected nor wished for," Munoz replied on Twitter, reminding readers his reign had only been a year, less than ten months in fact. Seven games into the season seems too soon, although had the axe been wielded at Christmas it would not have come as a big shock had Watford still been in the bottom third of the table.

Claudio Ranieri seems poised to take the reins at Vicarage Road.

Watford's managerial merry-go-round mirrors that of Nottingham Forest, who are on their 30th manager in 20 years. The twice European Cup winners fired Chris Hughton a couple of weeks ago after six defeats in seven games.

But whereas Forest have been unable to mount a serious promotion challenge and seem marooned in the bottom half of the Championship, Watford have at least yo-yoed between the top two flights and reached the F.A. Cup final.

The Pozzos' business model entails a consistent recruitment structure but regularly replacing the head coach, whose lifespan in the job they estimate at no more than a couple of seasons, according to Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury.

Forest have had a similarly dizzying turnover of players and managers but persist, expecting a different outcome, the classic definition of madness.

A comparison of the two clubs seems to confirm that when it comes to running football clubs, one size does not fit all.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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