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Watford harsh to sack Marco Silva

Tuesday 23rd January 2018

How often do Premier League managers receive the chop for bettering their predecessor's achievements? Well, that's Marco Silva's tale. Currently 10th, Watford was on track for its best finish in over 30 years - third in history. Yet, the Hertfordshire club still got rid of its boss.

Watford's resolve to fire Silva wasn't unexpected. The Hornets have been on a downward spiral since November. One win in 11 league games is extremely poor by all standards. Without a clean sheet in those matches, defending was woeful. More than half the goals conceded thus far came during this period. It's incredible to think Watford sat fifth in the Premier League only a month earlier.

Beholding such an abysmal run, Silva showed no remorse whatsoever. He failed to instigate a positive response, offering little change in tactics or team selection. It seemed the Portuguese was setting his team out to fail. His only tactical switches were up top, alternating Troy Deeney and Andre Gray. It proved futile in the end.  

However, sacking the 40-year-old was a little too austere from a neutral perspective. Despite the current tailspin, Watford is three places higher than this time last year under Walter Mazzarri. They were playing better football this season, too. Meticulous, aggressive and expansive. Silva was determined to win at all costs. A polar opposite to Mazzarri’s dour conservative system.

Silva's obsession with detail is mind-boggling. He realises the importance of fine margins. To the extent that he would often clear out conference rooms at the team hotel on a match-day to hold shape sessions.

Silva is also a stickler for discipline. Etienne Capoue found out the hard way after reacting angrily to criticism during a pre-season training session. The regime was intense but enjoyable, though. Unlike Mazzarri's monochronic sessions.

Fingers will perpetually be directed to Everton's much-publicised interest in Silva. And rightly so. He seemingly lost focus on hearing the opening at Goodison Park. His selfish ambitions tripped him up. But in all fairness to the Portuguese, Watford's owners, the Pozzo family, knew what they were getting into. An aspiring top-level manager looking to further his career while heralded as one of "the most sought-after" in the Premier League.

Since leaving Estoril in 2014, Silva hasn't spent more than a year in any role. His exploits at Hull City last season saw clubs flock around. Most notably, Crystal Palace and FC Porto. He eventually settled for Watford. It was perceived as a stepping stone to something bigger in the near future. Especially as the Hornets rarely offer their managers assurances concerning job security.

If Watford felt hard done, why wait over two months after the Everton situation to cut Silva off? Perhaps a plan B was in action all that time.

Just eight hours separated Silva's departure and Javi Garcia's confirmation. An indication that it wasn't a mere snap decision. Rather, a premeditated one.

Furthermore, Silva's incredible start to the season may have forced the club's hierarchy into developing unrealistic expectations. Watford was punching above their weight. They picked up eight victories and a draw in the opening nine home matches. So when the tide turned, a rash decision was made. Above all, though, the former manager rarely had the luxury of selecting his strongest team. Various injuries deprived him of 12 key players throughout this campaign. 

Although Silva's conduct during his time at Vicarage Road is questionable, Watford's decision to sack him was extreme. 

Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 


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