Watford Urged To Appoint Manager With 40% Win Ratio

Watford made a bold decision to relieve Valerien Ismael of his duties last month, handing the reins to former player Tom Cleverley until the end of the season.

When Ismael left Vicarage Road, the Hornets had just suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to promotion-chasing Coventry City and were sitting in 13th place in the Championship, seven points above the relegation zone. Cleverley became the 21st man to take charge of the team since the Pozzo family’s takeover in 2012.

While the club have extended the gap to the bottom three to nine points, Watford have actually fallen to 14th in England’s second tier but are unbeaten under the interim boss, drawing three times and winning once in his four games in the dugout, including a 2-2 draw with Leeds United and a 1-0 victory over Birmingham City at St. Andrew’s.

Cleverley, a former Premier League winner with Manchester United and captain of the Hornets, has done an admirable job in his brief stint so far but the club will likely look to appoint a more experienced manager in the summer before the transfer window opens.

Some names have been linked with the job already, including ex-Bournemouth and Fulham head coach Scott Parker, who managed to get both clubs promoted back to the Premier League in 2020 and 2022 respectively.

However, EFL pundit and Sheffield Wednesday legend Carlton Palmer believes that Watford should look no further than former Sheffield United and Leeds manager Paul Heckingbottom, who has been linked with the vacant Sunderland job this past week.

Watford Eyeing Permanent Ismael Replacement With 41% Win Rate

Speaking in a recent interview with Football League World, Palmer said:

“Paul Heckingbottom is somebody who I admire, and he is available, despite links to the Sunderland job, so I’m very surprised that he still hasn’t been snapped up yet,” he said.

“He did a fantastic job last time he was in the division with Sheffield United and got that team promoted by playing some superb football.

“He managed brilliantly there too, despite the small budget, and I thought he was unlucky to lose his job in the end,” Palmer continued.

“Whether Paul would be interested in the job, given the way the Watford hierarchy hire and fire managers, would remain to be seen, but he definitely would be someone I would personally look at, given that he remains out of a job for now.”

Heckingbottom guided the Blades back to the Premier League last season but was dismissed from his position back in December after just one win in 15 matches in the English top-flight. Throughout his coaching career, spanning 262 competitive games, the 46-year-old holds a 40% win record. In comparison, Ismael’s win ratio stands at 50.4 percent over 347 matches.

Writer’s View

Cleverley has done a really good job in difficult circumstances since taking over at Watford as someone who had just retired during the summer and had little to no managerial experience. It would be wise to keep him on the coaching staff regardless of whoever takes the job permanently.

Heckingbottom would be a really good option. However, Palmer is correct in his assessment about whether he would want to take a job which has been a poisoned chalice in recent times – Rob Edwards and Marco Silva aside.


About Adam Scully 952 Articles
Deputy Head of Writing

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